Wednesday, January 24, 2007

USB in the SUV? JVC car stereo lets you plug in MP3s via USB as well as iPod

When I first saw this idea I knew I had to check it out: a car stereo with a USB port on the face plate. In other words, you can put tunes on a USB thumb drive and play them in the car. In fact, I liked the idea so much I now have a JVC KD-G720 installed in my Jeep, as shown here.

Oddly enough, JVC seems to have dropped this particular model. When I went to get a link to listing at Circuit City (which is where I got mine) the search came up empty. Over at Crutchfield the model is listed as "no longer available." There are some links here that might work. Note how happy the reviewers sound--so it is not just me. I gave the unit a good write-up on epinions and also put in aq good word for Circuit City which had the unit installed in under an hour, for under $240 including the iPod connection in the glove box.

Obviously an iPod playing through the car stereo can be a life-saver on road trips and a lot of units are now offering this, either via a simply AUX connection, or through an intelligent link, like this unit, where you can select songs and functions, like shuffle, through the faceplate controls. But it was the USB port that really caught my eye. By using a USB adapter I can quickly take the SD card of tunes out of my Treo 650 and plug them into my car radio (there is a one gig limit ,but that is still a decent chunk of music). I can do the same thing with Sony Memory Sticks--drag a bunch of songs from iTunes on my Vaio laptop to a stick and stick it in the car.

Why would I do that instead of use my iPod? Just seems easier sometimes. Several mixes that I really like are already set up on SD cards for my Treo. Besides, I have my iPod docked in my home streo a lot of the time and it is a lot heavier than a USB key...and oh heck, maybe I'm just lazy.

Anyway, if you do like the idea of using a USB drive for tunes, this is the unit to play them. If you set up six different folders on the USB device the JVC KD-G720 will treat them as different CDs (the same holds true with MP3 CDs, which this unit also plays). You get song title info displayed and a number of shuffle options (within folder, across folders).

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