Mon 25 Aug 2008
written by Jeff
I finally decided to take the plunge even though my car is an older model 1999 Honda CRV. I was going to upgrade the CD player radio that came standard with the car. I must confess right up front that I am not an audio geek. I am not too demanding since I am no longer a spring chicken and my hearing doesn’t demand too much as far as broad spectrum sound is concerned.
Step 1 – Initial Research
I had no idea of what the current state of car audio was so I did what I usually do, I Googled “car radio ‘what to look for’ purchase” and several sites with related articles appeared. Among them were:
Introduction to car stereo – http://www.crutchfield.com/learn/learningcenter/car/car_stereo/intro.html
CD Players Shopping Guide – http://www.crutchfield.com/Learn/learningcenter/car/car_stereo/cd_players.html
Car Speakers (for those who are interested) – http://www.crutchfield.com/S-u1egK3uQR6H/learn/learningcenter/car/speakers.html
Edmunds also has a good series of articles related to car stereos:
Understanding Car Audio Systems
Understanding Car Audio Systems: What to Buy, What to Avoid and What to Add
After reading some of the introductory articles, I had a good idea of what was being offered as “standard” and what I did and didn’t need. As I said, I was looking for a rather simple, low-to-mid-range priced unit. I wasn’t going to upgrade my speakers, get a separate amplifier, have satellite radio and I didn’t want HD audio. The features I focused on were:
- Ability to play WMA, MP3 and standard CDs
- An auxiliary input jack for an MP3 player
- A decent set of controls
- A detachable faceplate for added security
I also needed to keep the price around $200 since I didn’t know how much longer my car would hold out although I do anticipate having the CRV for at least five more years. It currently has 150,000 miles on it and my mechanic expects it could exceed 250,000 miles.
Step 2 – What’s Out There
I visited the Circuit City (CC) and Best Buy (BB) sites to see which radios they had in my price range and which came closest to matching my limited criteria. When I saw a model that had some potential based on CC or BB customer reviews, I Googled the make and model of the radio followed by the word review, i.e. brand name model XX1234 review
I read the customer reviews when I visit store sites. It has been my experience that more people are apt to complain than to praise so a customer who doesn’t like something is more likely to write a review than one who finds the product satisfactory. With that in mind, if most of the customer reviews for a specific model provide moderate to high praise then that is one to be considered.
Customer reviews are quite interesting since they offer insights from those who have actually used the product. Notice how long the person has owned the product and keep that in mind when reading the remarks. A day or two of ownership doesn’t qualify one to make many insightful comments.
Users often point out features that work well or that do not work well. They also highlight features that one might have overlooked until it was too late. A number of people commenting about the Pioneer model listed below (see next post) indicated that they felt the controls were not as easy to use as they should be since the main knob was used for too many purposes. This sent up a bit of a red flag for me because one part of a product that is over worked is liable to break more quickly.
I also read customer reviews at Epinions.com and Amazon.com before making my final decision.
To be continued …
This post was originally published by Gardening on the Moon