Well, I've no problem with cheap car radios being the best, but it is a bit surprising.
Thought I'd mention my new Roadstar 852USMP/FM which cost me ~ 85 euros.
Late 2004 I bought a Roadstar 650UMP car radio for 180 euros. I chose this model because at the time it was the only CD/MP3 player I'd seen which could read USB keys.
Unfortunately, the USB key functionality didn't work very well even with the supplied 64MBy USB key - very frustrating, so I quickly stopped using it. I contacted Roadstar to see if firmware updates were available/possible for the USB problems but got no reply. Not good.
Nevertheless, the CD/MP3 functionality was very good and the sound quality was fine.
I had a few niggles with the user interface, having separate play/stop/ff/rew controls for USB and CD player for example but I could live with those. Also, I'd much rather have a smaller display which shows lots of info rather than scrolling a few characters (especially as they don't show full names - id3 tag length limitation?).
I also read a lot of reviews on the web of people who were very happy with very similar Roadstar models.
So I figured I just bought too early - bleeding edge and all that and so I hoped to replace it someday.
Recently I had an excuse to put the old radio in a camping car leaving me free to order a new one. I looked around a bit and still felt that Roadstar was the best to go with (assuming USB would be OK this time!).
So I went for a Roadstar 852 which I ordered from clust.com here in France.
I'd give this model 9/10.
It's not perfect but it's extremely good value at 85 euros!
Below I've put in bold what to me are the more important good/bad points.
- Now has USB key and SD/MMC card functionality
A 1GBy USB key (unknown manufacturer) and a Kingston 512MBy 3.3v SD card each played the MP3s on them without a problem. Both had a FAT32 partition on them, though I hadn't prepared them particularly (the SD card had also an ext2 partition and both keys had executeable files as well as MP3s) but they still played fine. This is excellent.
- No longer a USB key included - I don't care, I'd rather that any USB key works, so far so good. - Plays CD/MP3 perfectly as before.
- No longer (useless!) duplication of play/stop/ff/rew controls
- Different layout fascia black and silver (prettier maybe?)
- Has RCA audio inputs to connect some other player
(would have been nice to have an RCA to 3.5mm lead in the box).
- Still the constant scrolling of few characters on the display
- removable fascia is a little delicate because of the arguably nice spring loaded/damped opening. I prefer the old removable fascia.
- the plastic covering on the USB input is a bit of a pain but I guess you need to protect it.
- As before, the user manual is terrible, very basic with a minimum of information and definitely not written by a native english speaker.
- As before, unfortunate that skipping between folders isn't simpler (it's possible, but I'd have to read that manual!)
Anyway, the most important point was that USB+SD card item and the price.
This is an excellent car radio.
I'll probably use SD cards now as I like the way they sink into the device rather than a USB key which sticks out like a sore thumb from the radio.
I'm now wondering what size/make/speed SD card to buy to use daily. I'd like to go for something large but not too expensive but unfortunately here Roadstar are extremely cowardly giving no indication of tested products, recommended max., speed, max. size etc.
So I'll have to buy with fingers crossed. Come on Roadstar, make a little effort !
So I think I'm renting car radios now ... I'll buy another one in a couple of years when the features are right ...
Thursday, July 20, 2006
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