Friday, July 13, 2012

DVD Player and Navigation System For Cars - The selection process and a review

Apart from the windscreen view of the beautiful roads through the woods ahead, do you notice anything in particular in the dash. 

I am talking about the in dash DVD Navigation system which looks like an OE fit. But it is an after market attachment. Want to know more about it. Continue reading. (In between, if you want to know more about the place through which I am driving just visit here - Duke's Forest Lodge

This post describes in detail 
 - The selection process of In car Entertainment system (DVD Player &  Navigation system with bluetooth and reverse cam) for Toyota Innova 
- A review of the selected product - Fly Audio 

This might help buyers of such a product in India as I am based at Kerala in India

The Pioneer 5050 car audio player did it service meticuously for 3 years. The audio quality was good even with the stock speakers of Toyota Innova. The extensive usage of the audio system made its buttons fade a little as we had the habit of mostly using the controls on the console rather than using a remote (mostly because of the laziness to change the remote's batteries which gets drained out fast). 

The look of the front console was not so good since Pioneer 5050 was a one din player, while the vehicle has a two din slot. 
The need for a DVD player was increasing due to amount of long travels we undertake and one way to keep kids entertained is to play some movies. A navigation system was also becoming more of a necessity, since we travel long distances mostly on night when there will be no one around to ask for routes or directions. 

I began the search for an integrated system, the requirements were 
1. It should be 2 din, should perfectly fit the space in the dash of Toyota Innova 
2. Support for DVD playback 
3. Video output (to connect to an LCD Monitor) 
4. A navigation system 
5. USB Audio playback 
6. Bluetooth pairing desirable 
7. Reverse cam desirable. 
8. Touch screen interface, most desirable 
9. Budget less than 25K Indian rupees. 

Searched around for such a system, through the web and did window shopping in local accessory shops, the results are listed below. 

Options available 
1. The dealer for Toyota Innova in Thiruvananthapuram was having a 2 din system supporting all the above features. It seemed to be a Chinese Import, but the dealer was offering a warranty of 1 year. The system seemed to be perfect fit. But the price quoted was Rs. 55000/-, way over my budget. So dropped it. 

2. Local accessory dealers(Car Shoppe, Car Palace etc) had two models available with them, both Chinese imports, one named Motevo (the popular one with dealers) and other named Caska. It had all the features mentioned above. They were not ready to audition the system. I had to buy it to hear how it sounds. Price quoted was in the range of Rs. 38,000/- to Rs. 42,000/-. No product warranty, only service warranty for one year. (Note that the term service warranty does not imply anything as mostly when their is a damage the service centre people will be replacing the system and the customer will be charged fully) 

3. Map my India, the popular navigation system provider in India was having an integrated system meeting all my requirements. Again the unit which they were using seemed to be a Chinese Import, but they were offering a warranty of one year. Cost quoted was Rs. 42,000/-. Again out of budget. 

4. Sony was having the cheapest of the models with DVD player. But to get navigation, a small module has to be separately bought. Together the cost comes to around 40,000. 

5.From a popular automotive forum website in India, got to know that some people got such a system as a direct import from China. Started an email communication with one of the guys who promptly offered help. He had imported a system from China for his Volkswagen Vento. 
The supplier a company called witson, had a nice website, got quick response for the emails and was not hiding any facts. Infact based on the emails, found out that none of their models properly fit in the dimensions of my vehicle. They even sent me snaps of the models which they said will be a perfect fit my vehicle as the width was about 2cm less than the space available. These models were called "Navi system - General fit". Meanwhile one of my local friends bought a model from witson, for his new volkswagon vento and he was pretty happy with the delivery process and the unit. 
Naturally I was inclined to buy one such system. 
The process was 
a. Get the email invoice of the item from the supplier. While getting invoice, get the quote for shipping via DHL 
b. Pay the money via Western union money transfer or pay using pay pal account. 
c.Send the payment details to the chinese manufacturer. 
d. They will ship the item to India through DHL. 
e. The DHL fellows will give you a call to pay for customs duty when it arrives in India. Sometimes they will deliver the item and then ask for reimbursement of the duty which they has paid to the customs. 

The total cost of the Chinese item, including shipping charges and duties will come to around 20K. (Anyone seeing a business oppurtunity here) For warranty claims, the system has to be send back to China 

6. Along with the option of buying directly from China, had a discussion with one of my close friends in Gulf and he promptly suggested "Fly audio" from whom he too had purchased such a unit for his Honda CRV, which was a perfect fit. Got into their website and found that they had specifically mentioned a model for Toyota Innova. Got a quote from their dealer at Dubai. Even though the cost was slightly higher than a direct import from China, the advantage was that we could check the unit before delivery itself. Decided to take a plunge with flyaudio, my friend promptly ordered one. The dealer showed him all the functions. 

My friend took some snaps from the showroom itself and I got a feel of what I will be getting soon.

My adrenalin began to rush as was getting ready to get something which will make my vehicle more addictive. I kept my fingers crossed as my friend was planning to send it along with his relative who was expecting to come down after one month. This one month felt a little longer, but the wait was worth it as the system soon came to my homeland as safe as it could be. 

 The initial joy was shortlived as I soon found out that the local accessory shop guys were completely not interested in helping me fix this system as I did not buy it from them. One guy agreed to do it, but kept on changing the schedule by telling lame excuses. My patience was tested to limits, but soon I found out that there is no point in losing my temper, but rather keep on hunting for the shop which will entertain my demand. 

Finally got one, and the installer did a decent job, but right through the installation time, the owner kept on cribbing how bad a system is this and was yelling out the advantages of the system which he was having. I gracefully accepted all what he said for the sake of getting the system installed. At last the set up was ready and raring to go. The two din system just looked as if it is factory fitted. Just watch the comparo. 

Switch on the system and the Toyota logo makes it look real OE.

It takes a while to boot up the system, which is based on Windows CE, the boot time is approximately 5 seconds. The menu is neat, font size and icons have a professional look.

This is one area where I could find difference from a chinese import. The chinese import system's software is not so well aesthetically designed. This system eventhough Chinese made has a good software. The controls and touch screen are pretty easy to use. The automatic scanning feature for radio tuning is nice. Selection of available channels also is a cakewalk.

The blue tooth microphone was placed near the A pillar on the driver's side. The microphone also looked neat and does not look out of place in the interior.

Bluetooth pairing was easy and the sound quality is exemplerary. MP3 playback is good, audio quality is OK. DVD clarity is superb.

Overall the dash of the vehicle got a real facelift because of this system.

Purchased Map My India Software, and installation was as easy as one could get. This system had a micro SD card where the map software has to be loaded.

Insert the micro SD Card into your PC's micro SD card slot. Install the software with the install location specified as the micro SD card. After installation insert the micro SD card back to the card slot of the navigation system. Swich on the system.

Once map software is loaded, there is a menu option to browse and locate the executable corresponding to the map software. Once this application location is set, whenever GPS is invoked this application will run. Needless to say, map my india software is awesome as it has got very good coverage.

The GPS antenna was hidden inside the panelling of A pillar. I had doubts over the reception quality since the antenna was positioned inside the A pillar. But so far reception is good and I could see that system is able to get a GPS fix unless the sky is really cloudy. 

The reverse camera also is working like a charm. Put in the reverse gear and this gives a wide angle shot of what is happening at the back of the vehicle. Watch the reverse camera view while I was reversing during one of my recent offroading trip. 

Advantages of Flyaudio 

1. Touch screen response is good 
2. Navigation through the software is quite easy 
3. GPS set up is real easy 
4. Sound clarity is superb 
5. DVD play back is of good quality 
6. System switches automatically to reverse cam video input when reverse cam is powered up 
7. Bluetooth pairing works like a charm 
8. The screen can be switched off separately 
9. The navigational buttons outside the touch screen is a thoughtful addition 
10. The navigational buttons are backlit, making it easily accessible during night when screen is switched off 
11. The touchscreen navigational buttons color profile can be changed. Simply changing this once in a while gives a feel that the dash has been changed. 

1. No remote 
 2. When connecting to Ipod, the response is a tad slow. This happens when a hard disk of high capacity is connected too. 
3. While browsing through folders in USB, if we delay the selection inside any one of the folders, the screen goes back to the folder from the where the current song is being played. 
4. No phone book sync function along with bluetooth pairing. 

Next in line is an additional screen for video playback for the benefit of second and third row passengers. Review of the same will follow sooon. 

Do let me know your queries about the system. I will be happy to help.

Last but not the least a zillion thanks to my dearest friend "Niran" for facilitating this purchase.


in car DVD said...

In good DVD player there are many options enter the destination with a mere touch on the screen and the GPS wide screen navigator properly takes you, there through turn-by-turn voice directions.DVd player said...

thanks for the comment "In car DVD". The destination search and turn by turn voice directions are all features of the mapping software used in this.
The DVD player which I menitoned has Windows CE operating system. The map my india software is having all these features too.
If they upgrade the software with more features, I stand to get more options.
All this is made possible by the adoption of a standard OS in the DVD player, due to which user themselves can add new software to increase the functionality.

Claire Sage said...

The reverse camera also is working like a charm. Put in the reverse gear and this gives a wide angle shot of what is happening at the back of the vehicle. Watch the reverse camera view while I was reversing during one of my recent offroading trip.

VW Car Stereo GPS

Ronaldo said...

What is the reverse camera builtin or it is later used?

car dvd player direct said...

When you install a GPS device in your car, you are actually increasing its re-sell value. Your car is not an ordinary vehicle anymore. It now belongs to the elite group of cars employing high technology security and navigation gadgets.

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Unknown said...

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Pooja Rathor said...

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