I don't know how to google for the car stereo features I'm looking for
October 21, 2013 10:05 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy a new car stereo, but have no idea how to google for the features I'm looking for. What I really want is a double din stereo that has a usb port on the front where I can plug in my iphone 5 and play it through the stereo. Now comes the hard part, I want to control the iphone from the iphone. Not through the stereo interface. In otherwords, I want to use the USB port as an Aux out.

I recently rented a car, a 2012 Hyundai Elantra, that had this feature and just loved it. However all the stereos I find force you to control the iphone through the radio interface which I find clunky and annoying.

Particular stereo recommendations would also be appreciated. The car in question is a 2005 ford focus.
posted by bswinburn to Technology (10 answers total)
Why not just get a stereo with an aux-in and do it that way?
posted by LarryC at 10:13 PM on October 21, 2013

Is there a particular reason you don't want to use an Aux input for a headphone jack?
posted by czytm at 10:14 PM on October 21, 2013

Many USB steroes will let you do that. Crutchfield.com is probably the easiest way for you to find a specific model that will fit in your exact car.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:16 PM on October 21, 2013

Is there a particular reason you don't want to use an Aux input for a headphone jack?

Using USB is handy as it usually charges the iPhone as well.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:29 PM on October 21, 2013

Best answer: I just installed a cheapo Kenwood that lets me control the iPhone through the iPhone. Every time I plug it in to the USB port, I have to tell it that I don't want to install the app, but it's one click - not a big a deal. (And I could probably just install the app but refuse to use it, but I'M STUBBORN.) I bought mine at Crutchfield. From the research I did, nearly all USB stereos these days have this option. An important note: in setup, I had to tell the stereo that I didn't want it to override the iPhone. It would seem this feature is a thing you actually need to turn on, which might be why it appears hard to find a stereo that'll do this.

Also, eff aux in. USB is WAY better sound-wise - and also it charges the phone!
posted by incessant at 10:32 PM on October 21, 2013

Best answer: I think most aftermarket stereos should allow that these days. If you're looking for specific models, I liked the JVC KD-HDR50 that I put in my truck a few years back. It was only single DIN, and the on-stereo UI was kind of terrible, but there was a setting that allowed you to use the iPhone as a controller, and it does have the front USB port.

The higher-end Pioneer X5500BHS double-DIN that I just put in my Sprinter van also has this feature, though not the front USB port that you're looking for. Actually, on that one you can control the music from either the phone or the stereo at the same time, and the stereo will display all the song and playlist data from the phone (it's pretty neat, at least for somebody like me who's never had an expensive stereo before).
posted by hackwolf at 10:51 PM on October 21, 2013

Oh, one other note - I think all the Pioneer AVH series stereos will do this, so if you can find an older one with a front port like you want (AVH-3300, AVH-P1400, etc), they'd fit your requirements.
posted by hackwolf at 10:56 PM on October 21, 2013

Response by poster: Yep, it turns out all the stereos I looked at do what I want, I just had to go into the downloadable manuals to find out as it's completely unadvertised. Thanks for the info.
posted by bswinburn at 11:43 PM on October 21, 2013

What about just getting one with bluetooth? (and getting a tiny usb charger for your cig lighter to charge the phone) I just got a new used car and the music/podcasts via bluetooth is working surprisingly well for me.
posted by Spumante at 5:49 AM on October 22, 2013

I've installed two different car stereos and they both let me switch control between the iPhone and the head unit when the phone's plugged into the USB port.

A 2-DIN unit will limit your options. You can get a 1-DIN and fill the empty space with a bin. A DIN bin, you might say (this is exactly what I did in my car). I previously had a Pioneer, which had a crappy interface and crapped out on me; I recently installed an Alpine.

Also, I second the advice to get one with Bluetooth. USB is nice for long trips, but Bluetooth is more convenient.
posted by adamrice at 7:19 AM on October 22, 2013

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