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July 18th, 2006

Chrysler’s In-Car Hard Drive: Half-Baked

A few weeks ago Chrysler announced that a few of its new cars would have an in-car entertainment (ICE, baby) system called MyGiG. It’s a really nice idea: a 20GB hard drive can store navigation info, a Gracenote database, preferences, and – most importantly – around 10GB of WMA (gak!) or MP3 files, so you can play them while driving. And it imports music from your CDs (rips!) or a USB drive.

Nice idea, but it’s absolutely half-baked.

Chrysler’s “innovation” would be great if the year was, say, 2000 or even 2002. But there’s a little device called “iPod” that you might have heard of that complicates this situation and, ultimately, makes it a futile effort.

The reason’s simple: I already have my music in two places (portable music player, computer). I’m not going to add it to another place. That’s asking a hell of a lot of your customers, don’t you think? And not supporting any format (even unprotected AAC, come on) that the iPod specializes in shows its shortcomings, frankly. And sure, sure, I can plug my iPod in via the aux jack but that doesn’t do anything any other car with an aux jack does. Big deal.

Let’s face it. In 2006, the iPod is the de facto standard when it comes to portable music players. Any car that doesn’t at least have an aux jack is missing out. But any car that offers an ICE system that ignores the iPod? That’s just stupid.

I won’t even touch the enclosure a 20GB hard drive needs in order to not destroy itself. Let’s hope Chrysler puts great suspensions in these cars, too.

Posted in Cars

FROM: Aanen
DATE: Tuesday July 18, 2006 -- 7:55:20 am
another piece of expensive electronics that'll cost a fortune to replace.

FROM: Fernwall Feckless
DATE: Wednesday July 19, 2006 -- 6:31:33 pm
Back arround l956 Chrysler came out with a woman's car called the "La Femme" or something like that. It was pink and had a record player. Believe it or else.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday July 20, 2006 -- 10:14:10 am
The Highway Hi Fi of which you speak was a Chrysler option and was available in Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth vehicles. The Dodge La Femme, being available at the time as an option package to a standard model, would have had the record player offered as an accessory.

I first heard about this accessory as a kid when going through my Dad's record collection. He has a compilation album that features photos of Steve Allen's 45 rpm playing Chrysler Imperial. This album can be seen on the above website.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Saturday July 22, 2006 -- 9:32:35 am
Although *cough* obviously it does not have to be an iPod. Any MP3 player with a headphone jack, which all have, would work fine with an aux jack in the car.

FROM: Adam [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday July 23, 2006 -- 1:12:51 am
Thought the same thing when I read about this. I have an iPod - though I could easily switch to another device if the right one came along. My car has a AIWA stereo with a line-in jack. When I bought it last year, AIWA was the only company I could find with a line-in jack in the front. Everyone wanted me to get a more "premium" system and then rig some system that would plug into the back of the stereo. Stupid.

The stereo cost me about $125 and works perfectly. Unfortunately, I'm thinking about getting a new car and I'd really hate to swap out the stereo since my new car will likely be an Infinity G35, which I think it too nice to put in a non-factory stereo.

I think it's crazy that very few of the car companies have started supporting mp3 players - they have only been around 8 years or so. Even the car companies that do only have it on a few models.

For example, my friend bought a new Isuzu truck. It came with either a premium system that included a 5-disc changer or a basic system that included a line-in. The only problem was they didn't have any models with the basic system so he had to take the changer.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday July 23, 2006 -- 10:44:10 am
Adam: no kidding. Cars are freaky. The only time I purchased a new car, I looked through the seven paint colours they offered. I kept thinking: "what? that hardware store down the block has two hundred colours, and you losers only have seven??".

I would not worry about putting in a non-factory stereo. It is your car, not theirs. Unless the stereo is a fluorescent purple and clashes with the interior, few people will notice (and if they do, you can say it was a custom upgrade -- as it was!).

FROM: Adam [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday July 28, 2006 -- 1:21:51 am
Yeah, but the G35 that I want to get has the stereo controls on the wheel, which wouldn't work if I switched the stereo. Not essentially, but a bummer just because they can't figure out how to put in a stupid line-in jack. Can't imagine it would add that much to production costs.

Semi April 4, 2007, 2:36 pm

iPod? Pfff! So my dream of an in-car unit that can hold all of my music starts to develop and I get this Apple-acolyte pissing on it. mouthing off about the one true portable music box like some “Church of Steve” evangelist. YOUR CAR IS YOUR PORTABLE MUSIC DEVICE! The proprietary, closed source code iPod is just a novelty. Once you’re out the of the car your attention is on communicating with bro’s and ho’s.

What you’re comments really bring up is a needed WiFi transfer solution between your home PC (or Mac) and your in-car HDD. Your home and car are music listening areas. Walking or biking about is NOT. Unless you WANT to get hit by a car… or falling house.

And AAC is not even a standard (though maybe a poorly crafted acronym). It, and iTunes, will be replaced soon enough with better quality/compression MP formats and simple drag-n-drop wireless music transfers, respectively.

Vernon Stephens May 4, 2007, 9:16 pm

I think having an in-car mp3 device is a great idea However, I agree that it needs more thought. What do you think? DC can introduce an ipod or mp3 deck or dock. The deck or dock sould be able to control the ipod or mp3 functions, the volume, ff, rw, menu and so on. The deck or dock sould double as a charger. In addition, the deck should be able to pivot in any direction, allowing the operator to view the screen, for videos. It would be nice if the device’s screen could be view on the LCD screen.

It is possible that DC would save money.

As a consumer of e-gadgets, I want my devices to be portable. I don’t want to be tide down to my car. We have become an, on-the-go nation. DC needs to keep up that idea, and they will be successful.

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