Monday, 12 February 2018

Xtrons 3" Single Din Car Radio

This was something I bought for my wife as a present, to upgrade her car radio. She has a Vauxhall Corsa and wanted similar to mine to play music from an SD-card or USB stick.
I searched and found the XTRONS 3" HD Car Stereo 1 DIN Head Unit Radio MP3 Player USB SD AUX FM + Camera input.

This looked ideal, single DIN to fit a facia for her car, inputs for USB, SD card and AUX too, FM tuner (No CD but that's generally not a problem) and it had phone buttons too.

It was at a decent price too (Under £80), so I ordered it as a present. It was only when I got to fitting it that the problems began.

Firstly, no i hadn't noticed the writing along the bottom of this photo stating "Attention: this car stereo doesn't have Bluetooth function", so I'd missed that, my fault, so I was annoyed at myself already!
After powering it up for the first time, I found the first problem. It's so non-intuitive to use. The arrows don't search/scan on FM at all, there are two preset station buttons 1 and 2, there are up to 10 but you have to get to them by cycling through using the arrow buttons.
It also doesn't have RDS, Radio text or anything like that, so whilst tuned into a station you only get the frequency displayed. This also means it won't auto-hop between frequences if you cross regions or anything like that.

The physical buttons are clicky and rattle in their sockets, which doesn't give a good feel, but it's a nice positive click when you press them which is good for driving. The multi functions of the buttons aren't very intuitive, so you have to work out long-pressing and short pressing do two different actions which isn't always obvious to get into the menu you want.

The volume button presses in, and a short press allows tone and balance control, a long press gets you into the setup menu.

I fed a rear camera into it, and selected reverse (I already had the wiring in) and the radio did switch to a video input and muted the audio, but no matter what I did, I constantly had "NO SIGENAL" showing. Yes that was spelt incorrectly! I'm going to investigate further to verify the camera signal input, but it did work (from a dashcam) so I'm not sure if there is something wrong with the head units camera/reverse input signal.

After tuning to the FM stations I wanted, I stored them into 1 and 2, the signal was good (The antenna conversion kit I used had an inline booster so this probably helped get a really good signal) and the audio was decent quality with a good bit of volume.
The volume adjustment wasn't great, it uses a huge volume scale, so you have to twist the volume knob many turns before you went between very quiet to very loud!

Going into the setup menu, there was little to configure, date/time, language and audio preferences (balance, fader, equaliser settings) so nothing really needed to tweak in there. You can set brightness and contrast separately though to get the best out of the 3" screen, which was back-lit well and pretty clear.

Boot up speed was quick, from standby and from completely disconnected, which you'd expect as the unit isn't running any complex operating system, it appears to be running it's own custom firmware from xtrons.

All in all, I'm pretty disappointed, it was supposed to be an upgrade but I'm sat wondering if due to it's difficult to navigate UI and clunky buttons that it's not really an upgrade at all. I was even contemplating putting the Vauxhall unit back in as I was that unhappy with the results I'd achieved in an afternoon of wiring.
(The Vauxhall wiring is not great, there is no switched +12v from ignition so you have to manually wire into the aux/cigarette lighter socket)

UPDATE1 - The very next day after installation we went out to the car and was going to show the unit off to my wife for the first time. Turned ignition on, radio powered on and the radio channel I left it on started playing, but the screen was totally white. Several power on and off's and it just wouldn't do anything. So this wasn't a good sign, it appears the screen has given up, with less than 1hr of use!
The next day my wife used the car and the screen came on, so I'm not sure if this is related to temperature or it's got an intermittent fault.

UPDATE2 - The screen has failed again with a totally white display.


UPDATE3 - March 2018 - It's a pile of trash! Don't waste your money. The white screen issues continue and more often than not it's a white screen (I think it's related to temperature, cold temperatures) and even when it's not the biggest problem.
You cannot navigate folders/choose songs from folders. The music from SD/USB simply searches the Sd card/USB for all music it can play, and then gives that to you in a huge list. You can skip songs, but without being able to jump, search or choose with any more refinement, that's as good as it gets.

Avoid at all costs is my advise on this one!

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