iPod in Your Car

Commentary: Victor suffers an auto-audio crisis: How to get sound from his iPod nano to his Subaru dashboard without having an accident. (ExtremeTech)

I recently bought a 3.5mm stereo plug to connect my 1GB iPod Nano to the Eclipse CD-5423 head unit in my car. My deck, despite being an older model, is relatively iPod-friendly right out of the box. It comes with a rear auxiliary input, a jog lever for navigating long track lists, and is capable of displaying text information like ID3 tags and radio station titles.

While I dont consider myself a "golden-eared" (or even "

The issue with connecting the iPod via the auxiliary cable connection is control: You still have to advance tracks and select playlists with the iPod itself. Unlike most car stereos with their illuminated buttons and tactile knobs, the tiny black Nano isnt well suited for use while driving.

Mine currently occupies a dimly lit niche in front of the shifter near the ashtray, making the buttons difficult to see at night. Before I can even get the backlight on, Im fumbling around with the controls, changing the volume when Im trying to advance to the next track or vice versa. Forget about switching playlists while keeping your attention on the road. I also have to remember to power down the iPod whenever I reach my destination before getting out of the car. All of these tasks should be handled with the head unit--thats what its there for. It has a lot more buttons and its better suited for this purpose.

Eclipse has a solution to some of these woes. Their iPod Interface Adapter iPC-106 is an add-on module that mates up a dockable iPod with an Eclipse head unit. For $119.99, you get playlist, album, artist, and title info streamed to the deck and power to the iPod. Unfortunately, a Crutchfield rep informed me over online chat support that my ancient deck of yesteryear (2003) isnt compatible with the iPC-106. More recent information posted on their site indicates otherwise, but its still unclear exactly what kind of functionality you get if youre not using a fully-supported 2006 model head unit.

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