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I unpacked the head-unit a week or so back but hadn’t powered it up because I was thinking more about getting the old Bose unit out of the car. My “buyer protection” was close to expiring though so I thought I better power it up and make sure it worked.

Luckily I had a mains – 12v transformer that was left over from an earlier car computer project that didn’t work out as planned. This was perfect for a simple plug-in test to make sure the new android unit powered up properly. After a few turns of the screwdriver to connect the main wires the unit purred (actually it was entirely silent!) into life and presented me with the main “desktop” display.

My first impressions of the unit were favorable. Everything worked as anticipated though I couldn’t hear anything as I didn’t have a way to plug my speakers to the head unit (I’ll pick-up an adapter to do that though). The physical buttons work well and make switching between the different main functions very simple. Similarly the control knobs are great for the volume and station setting.

I started to do a little bit of basic customizing (this is a toy after all!) and install some of the android apps I use and this is where some small problems started to appear.

My usual nav app is Sygic. It’s a good navigation system and works well on my phone. After installing it and downloading maps etc. I opened it up to check it worked and was greeted by this:

I’m not sure what language that is, it looks like Arabic or possibly Indian. Certainly not English, which is the locale setting on the head unit. I tried to navigate through using my phone as a guide but the screens don’t match at all. I even uninstalled and re-installed but nothing changed. I’ve put in a support request to Sygic to see if they can shed any light on the matter.

The next thing I tried was Poweramp. Again I use it on my phone without a problem. This time when I try to install it I’m told it can’t be installed because my “device doesn’t support it.” I’m not sure why that could be the case, it’s only an MP3 player after all – hardly bleeding edge technology. Again I’ll try to get some idea from support as to why.

The software that comes with it is not fantastic (as expected), The navigation software looks like it might work but doesnt look as good as Sygic. The MP3 player is awful and like so many will not play all music at random (my preferred way of listening) but instead limits me to playing a single album or waste my life building playlists. So I need to find a solution to at least the mp3 player side of things.

While poking around I noticed an icon that simply said “Color” I opened it and was presented with a color wheel and wasn’t sure what it did. Initially i thought that it might change the color of the desktop but after selecting a bunch of different colors with no effect I realized that wasn’t the case. Then, as I carried on poking at the colors I noticed something unexpected. It was changing the background illumination on the physical controls! I hadn’t realized that the unit supported this and it’s cool that I can match it to my vette’s instruments to make it look “stock”.

I haven’t found out how to reprogram the physical controls yet. I hope that there’s an easy way to do this as I’d like to make a couple of changes (depending on the MP3 player and Sygic situation). I also found a couple of neat items for potentially doing further customization for the bot-up and desktop.

Tasker – provides a way to automate and customize most things in Android.

Live Wallpaper Creator – makes those nifty “active” live wallpapers.

Boot Animation Creator – for building animated boot sequences

I think I’ve figured out the wiring at the head unit end as I mentioned. This weekend I’m going to try and figure out the connection at the other end to where it plugs in to the car.

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