Cheap Android Head Unit? 20 year old Buick

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Hey guys...

2001 Buick LeSabre - Want to replace stock head unit with Double Din Bluetooth Stereo.

Well... I've been looking around and doing some research on this. Yes, 100% knowing "you get what you pay for". I've been on the Crutchfield site and they have have some Boss, Dual, Jensen units for around $159 - $270. And, they also have some high-end units. (Don't want these.) My requirements are a volume knob and Bluetooth.

Not looking for a high-end system by any means! Keeping the speakers and don't want back-up cams and all of that.

Based on the Crutchfield website... I'm not thinking $200-300 is buying me any more in quality than an $100 unit from Amazon. Have any of you had experience with a cheap unit like this one -

My car was inherited and I don't want to spend much on the stereo. (Stock has a Cassette and a few functions stopped working)

Anyone have experience with these units? Here's another from Walmart - https://www.walmart.com/ip/Double-D...Wheel-Control-Backup-R/889618482?athbdg=L1700
 
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Is there a reason you're going Double DIN on a basic stereo? A single DIN with a mounting kit would expand your options. In a Crown Vic I had (and have since sold) I used a Kenwood like this one with no issues:


It came with a wired mic for better voice pick-up during phone calls, which was nice. Note that it does not play CDs - I didn't see that in your list of requirements.

It looks like Crutchfield is having some stock issues at the moment, but Best Buy seems to have them available.
 

JGmazda

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Is there a reason you're going Double DIN on a basic stereo? A single DIN with a mounting kit would expand your options. In a Crown Vic I had (and have since sold) I used a Kenwood like this one with no issues:


It came with a wired mic for better voice pick-up during phone calls, which was nice. Note that it does not play CDs - I didn't see that in your list of requirements.

It looks like Crutchfield is having some stock issues at the moment, but Best Buy seems to have them available.
The stereo is the size of a Double DIN unit and I didn't want to go with a single DIN unit. (Wanted to fill the unit with touch screen vs. cubby hole for example.)

The wired Mic option is a nice feature. Yes, correct, I don't need to use a CD player anymore. (OEM has both CD & Cassette).

Another feature of NOT going with another CD unit is the "Depth of Install" is much less. (4-5") This leaves more room for the wiring harness and so forth.

I've watched numerous YouTube videos where guys would "carve-out" the back of the radio enclosure to make room for all of that stuff. UGH... NO WAY AM I DOING THAT.

The Buick has a ribbon cable mounted in the back and the head unit just pops-out with clips on the side. I can get a harness that clips-in and should be go to match-up everything.

Honestly, I know I'm asking for something that probably does not exist...but figured it might be worth investigating. I've read some good reviews but am very cognizant of the idea this is "going cheap"! :)

I may just end-up biting the bullet and going with a name brand.... but really... there's not much inside these units (guts) to warrant $200 more. It's not until you get into the $400-plus range that things seem to improve. Again... I know how cheap this may sound... Just trying to see if I can get a small step-up from unit from twenty years ago without spending a bunch of money.

I'd rather put that into maintenance etc... Thanks for you input! (y)
 
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Are you just looking for something to play songs from your phone vs bluetooth? Lots of lower cost radios can do that.

If you want to store songs on the unit you can get one with a read USB input and an extension to run the to glove box. Use a cheap thumb drive to store the songs.

If you want to use other features like Maps, forward/reverse camera, basic internet etc, then look at the reviews closely. In particular youtube reviews where they show how smooth the interface is. Cheap radios use low cost processors and little RAM. That will make it slow and clunky. also more prone to crashing since the little memory in it needs to be shared. Also tech support on some of the lower cost units is non-existant.

A friend of mine uses ATOTO from amazon is it works fine. not the cheapest but seems to function like the big names.
 
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Of the cheap brands Boss gets a bad name because they massively "overstate" the power of their amps by a factor of 10. On benchmarking channels where they tear their units down as part of the reviews, the internals are usually quality parts and expertly assembled. With Boss you will actually get good parts but you'll be supporting a dishonest company. If I had to I would chose them over junk.

 

JGmazda

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Are you just looking for something to play songs from your phone vs bluetooth? Lots of lower cost radios can do that.

If you want to store songs on the unit you can get one with a read USB input and an extension to run the to glove box. Use a cheap thumb drive to store the songs.

If you want to use other features like Maps, forward/reverse camera, basic internet etc, then look at the reviews closely. In particular youtube reviews where they show how smooth the interface is. Cheap radios use low cost processors and little RAM. That will make it slow and clunky. also more prone to crashing since the little memory in it needs to be shared. Also tech support on some of the lower cost units is non-existant.

A friend of mine uses ATOTO from amazon is it works fine. not the cheapest but seems to function like the big names.
Thanks. Makes sense... I suppose if I look at it reasonably, I'm hoping to have a USB connected (Songs) and Bluetooth for calling. A smooth interface is preferred, but knowing how cheap they make them. I'll look at the ATOTO... Thanks!
 

JGmazda

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Of the cheap brands Boss gets a bad name because they massively "overstate" the power of their amps by a factor of 10. On benchmarking channels where they tear their units down as part of the reviews, the internals are usually quality parts and expertly assembled. With Boss you will actually get good parts but you'll be supporting a dishonest company. If I had to I would chose them over junk.


Didn't know that... Good take on this.
 
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I’ve done over half a dozen with Crutchfield. You can now pay an extra fee for them to do the soldering and it is truly plug and play. My son recently did one using a Boss unit and it was fine. I’d be fine with anything Crutchfield sold in the 2 to 3 hundred range and have done so in the past.I actually did one one on a 1989 Delta 88 and it went fine. Good luck.
 

JGmazda

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Just helped my nephew install a Boss unit from Crutchfield. Fairly straightforward with the exception of a few things...

Some of the components delivered were apparently newer versions that didn't correspond to the directions. (Quick Call to their Tech Support team solved that. )

The directions and multiple parts (Steering wheel controls, modules etc.) were confusing in that there were many ways to integrate each one into the assembly.

Again... Great Tech Support help from them. Worth buying from them if you have never installed a car stereo before.

Overall, Lot of patience needed and testing before finally putting it back together again. The days of a simple install are gone... Lots of interface and it's very easy to get "wires crossed". (Pun intended.)

The Boss unit is okay... nothing like I thought it would be... It works... but does not blow me away as I thought it would.

I have been looking at a few different units on Amazon that have gotten really good reviews. I may just try one how it goes. Can't be that bad if I just did a modern vehicle.

Thanks for all your help and advice guys!
 

dishdude

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I'm in the same situation, have a free Corolla I really don't want to put any money into but would like to replace the radio. If I do, I am thinking of this Sony. The cheap units just seem to have the chance of being more trouble than they're worth. I want wireless Android Auto but you have to spend big money for that 💸💸💸

 
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I'm in the same situation, have a free Corolla I really don't want to put any money into but would like to replace the radio. If I do, I am thinking of this Sony. The cheap units just seem to have the chance of being more trouble than they're worth. I want wireless Android Auto but you have to spend big money for that 💸💸💸

Since around 2010, Sony hasn't been regarded very highly in the audio industry. They make excellent if not the best gaming consoles, but home or car audio I would suggest doing lots of research on audio forums as some of their products have a reputation for failing on the store shelf.

Ilike how this person summed them up.
That, in a nutshell, is the story right there. Their stuff is mostly good, occasionally poor, rarely outstanding, and always top dollar (high margins from manufacture to retail, with dealer pressure to discount protected by SONY stores that sell everything at full MSRP) but in the end not good enough if you actually care about audio (or video).

https://www.diyaudio.com/community/threads/why-so-much-hate-for-sony-car-audio.198597/post-2747244
 

dishdude

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Since around 2010, Sony hasn't been regarded very highly in the audio industry. They make excellent if not the best gaming consoles, but home or car audio I would suggest doing lots of research on audio forums as some of their products have a reputation for failing on the store shelf.

Ilike how this person summed them up.


https://www.diyaudio.com/community/threads/why-so-much-hate-for-sony-car-audio.198597/post-2747244

I'm not a Sony fanboy, I agree most of their stuff is crap. The only Sony items I own are two clock radios, but I think that head unit I linked is decent for the price.
 

JGmazda

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I'm in the same situation, have a free Corolla I really don't want to put any money into but would like to replace the radio. If I do, I am thinking of this Sony. The cheap units just seem to have the chance of being more trouble than they're worth. I want wireless Android Auto but you have to spend big money for that 💸💸💸

I agree! I actually am looking very hard at the ATOTO lineup on Amazon. They have some really cool units with great features for less than $200. Plus... They apparently have awesome customer service by the reviews. Their $300 units have specs that make 90% of the Crutchfield units look like bargain basement leftovers. They are running higher processors and so forth. The sub $200 unit I'm looking at actually runs a Linux base (More stable OS).

Thanks to danez_yoda's post above for recommending them.


I must say... I wasn't very impressed with the Boss Unit my Nephew purchased. Almost $300 and if I dare say... No better than a $100 unit. It's not until you get into the $800 plus range that things change a bit. Otherwise... It's all in the software and programing, screen quality, features and components.

Nothing in the $300-$500 range stood out to me on the Cruthcfield site... They all seemed "average". The Sony was boring but had the quality factor that made it look palatable. (Does anyone remember the 80's and the days of component stereo equipment? Those were the days!)

Anyway... I'm going to give the ATOTO a whirl... they seem innovative on the software side... (Read some of the features and you'll see what I mean.) The Kenwoods, Pioneers, JVC, and Sony stuff just seems like a cosmetic shell built on the same components. (They don't even go into the specs that much.)

Yes, there's crap out there... but going with the minimal options on the Crutchfield site, I wanted more bang for my buck. And yeah, warranties are basically the same as the others on Amazon.... I'm not going to spend $500 on a Sony or similar to get the same interface as that mundane Boss unit. The OS is what makes the difference in the whole Double DIN world. Functionality.
 

JGmazda

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You have come a long way from your first post. "My requirements are a volume knob and Bluetooth " 🤔
Correct... By the time you spend $79+ for a cheap unit.... and then realize it offers not much but an On/Off feature with subpar components, I reconsidered the offerings from of the larger online vendors. I began to realize that replacing the stock head unit with something less capable didn't make sense. From there, I really took note that most of the time I'm using my steering wheel controls and therefore... the "knob" became less important.

From there.... I was disappointed with the Sub-$200 offerings and then went down the proverbial rabbit hole. More ressearch into head units let me to the point of -
If I'm going to spend X-amount... why not spend a few buck more and get something that modernizes the driving experience.

So yeah.... all over the place...but didn't know what I know NOW. ;)
 
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