External hard drives w/ USB-enabled head units
by make_or_break - 5/2/09 10:14 AM
Anyone had much luck with using them as a music source? Or is there not enough juice to power a drive that's physically that large?
by: make_or_break May 2, 2009 10:14 AM PDT
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My car's glovebox: where old iPods go to die!
Usually, there's not a lot of power flowing through the USB port on your average car stereo, which instantly disqualifies most portable hard drive enclosures from in-car use.
I have--using an external 12V/110V inverter--been able to power up an external hard drive in-vehicle and have a receiver recognize it when connected. However, once you're past the power problem, you run into the additional issues of formatting and read speed.
Many receivers will only read certain formats, folder structure (8 levels deep usually), or limit the number of files indexed, making complex directory structures an issue. Also, many receivers are dreadfully slow reading from hard drive based media (having been designed with the almost instant seek times of flash media in mind), so it's quite possible that it could take forever just to find the song you're looking for with the hard drive/receiver combo that you have in mind.
As an alternative, I find that an old iPod 5G/5.5G or MP3 player works best and doesn't require most of the trickery that it takes to get a HDD working in-car. Plus, units with broken screens can be found on eBay for super cheap!
Thanks for the tip
I sort of forgot that I've still got an 80GB 5.5G lying around. And yes I agree that my JVC Karmeleon h/u is a bit 'leisurely' at file reads (when using a 2GB Sandisk flash drive)...and it IS indeed finicky when cooperating with various sundry USB devices (Creative and Sony PMPs need not apply (sigh)).
Now I've only got to figure out where to stash the iPod (my USB port is in the center console...a fair bit away (and with open air in between) from my car's glovebox.
Why don't you use an USB flash drive?
You can get them in 16 GB nowadays, holds a lot of music and takes less space. No cable lying around.
250GB vs 32GB
That about says it...I think.
I have been using a 4GB stick for some time, but since I like using 320k or even WAV files it fills up pretty quickly. However with the price of external HD units these days it seem stupid paying $60 or $70 for a 32GB flash stick when for a few dollars more 250GB, 320GB or even 1TB (depending on which sale one catches at the right time) is readily available.
Hell, I don't mind wiring up the car for it if I have to; I've certainly done more than enough mobile mods in the past. Of course I'm lazy enough to prefer a lesser, non-lower back pain inducing route. So far the 80GB 5.5G iPod works reasonably well and I've found a good resting spot for it, and because the JVC h/u is one of those Made For iPod units it it actually has better navigation capabilities with the Apple player than it does with just a simple storage device (but only just). That said, even 80GB with uncompressed files only goes so far.
USB HD and USB Car Decks
If you format a Western Digital passport USB hard drive to FAT32, a car stereo with a USB input will read it. I tested this on a Sony CDX-GT540UI at BestBuy yesterday. Out of the several decks I tested, the Sony did the best job. Sony had the fastest boot time, where the Alpines were slow (about 50 seconds) and even faster browsing and playback from reselect. The SONY's CDX-GT540UI Quick BrowZer feature with Jump Mode gets you to the song you want by category, selecting from Genre, Artist, Album, or Play-list. Control-wise, you simply push the scan button and turn the dial to select a folder. Then you push the dial to confirm the folder and turn the dial again to select the song and push to play the song. Worked so well I was sold on it and made the purchase. Even the BestBuy mobile electronics sales guy was impressed.
In case you still have this Passport can you tell me the model of it? I can't find any hdd that is compatible with that Sony deck you mentioned. Thanks!!
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