After a long time of running a custom PC in the car for my audio, navigation, and data needs, I finally decided to convert the car back into running a standard head unit. After much searching of web sites, I found a stereo that did exactly what I wanted. It was the Pioneer DEH-P7050BT.
This unit offered just about everything I wanted on my wishlist.
- MP3/AAC/WMA playback
- Direct playback from CD or USB storage (ie memory key, portable HDD)
- Bluetooth hands free car kit
- RCA outputs for a sub woofer amplifier
About the only thing that the stereo was missing was the support for playback of MP3s from DVD-R media.
I made the inquiries, and found that the stereo would go on sale at the end of March. March came and went with the stereo nowhere to be seen. April came and went. June came and I happened to see a single DEH-P7050BT in a JB Hi-fi store. After 30 seconds of contemplation, I snapped it up.
I wish I hadn't.
To say I have a gripes list about this stereo is an understatement. I wrote to my contact at Pioneer and spelt out a number of my concerns, and I'll include them below for public record.
Issue 1: When switching between a song playing from USB source to a different source (ie TUNER) and with the song title scrolling on the display, the unchanged part of the screen will continue to scroll until the last character being scrolled meets the new text from the new source.
This issue seems to be caused my sloppy code in either the scrolling or section for printing text to the display, as only characters to the right of the updated display text will continue to scroll until they scroll up to the new text.
Issue 2: Randomly when dialling a phone number via the voice dial feature on the stereo, the call will proceed, the display will say DIALLING, then when the call is answered, the audio will not switch to the handsfree kit on the stereo. This has only happened to me twice in the last 24 hours, but this never happened when using my previous BT car kit - hence I believe it to be a compatibility issue with the head unit.
Issue 3: I'm not sure if this is designed behaviour or not, but if you are currently playing audio from a USB stick and the USB stick is removed, then the unit turns off. It may be nicer to fall back to the tuner or last selected source.
Issue 4: There are many grammatical and spelling errors in the PDF file being the manual. This looks very unprofessional and also makes things very hard to follow. There is also no mention of menu structure - for example, in the section regarding pairing a BT phone (page 25), there is no mention of the requirement to press the phone button to switch to TELEPHONE mode before using the multifunction button to obtain a menu.
I seriously doubt that the manual or documentation was written by someone who had English as their first language. We would expect better from people just leaving high school...
Issue 5: The BT AUDIO source should have a function to always be active. This allows all audio to be piped from the phone to the head unit - even when the tuner is currently active. For extra style points, this should allow either a MUTE or ATTENUATION option to affect the volume of the current source while the BT AUDIO source is active. This would make things perfect for use of GPS navigation on phones.
While not a bug, this is a major design issue in my book - as you effectively still accept audio output from the phone without outputting it anywhere - effectively muting audio on your phone until you manually disconnect it.
Issue 6: When navigating folders on the USB stick (would probably also apply to an MP3/DATA CD), even though the track numbers are named 01xxxx.mp3 02xxxx.mp3 etc etc, they are not always loaded or played in that order... Also when changing folders, if you select a folder, the first MP3 file shown should be the lowest number- ie 01xxxx.mp3. This is not the case at present.
Issue 7: When pairing from the phone to the DEH-P7050BT. To duplicate this, put the stereo in pairing mode (CONNECTION -> STANDARD -> PAIR FROM PHONE). Then search for bluetooth devices on a PDA. When the device is connection, use the stock '0000' pin code. If you select BOTH the 'Wireless Stereo' and 'Hands free' profile in the pairing mode, the pairing will fail.
To work around this, on the STEREO, switch to "BT AUDIO" mode, then pair with your phone device. When you select services to pair, ONLY select WIRELESS STEREO. Then switch the stereo mode to "TELEPHONE", repeat the pairing steps and ONLY select the "Hands Free" service. This will succeed. On the PDA/phone device, edit the bluetooth properties for "PIONEER FLAP BT" and make sure BOTH the services are selected (only one will be).
This is just sloppy coding.
Issue 8: I sat in my car tonight and called myself from a different phone and was shocked at the poor quality of audio the other party hears on this Bluetooth kit. The audio quality was weak, and full of crackle - with many times during the call having the car kit audio completely replaced with static for a second or so... The best I can describe it was like on an old cordless phone when it's starting to get out of range of its base station.
The quality of audio of the hands free kit is just - well - pathetic. If I get calls while I am on the road, it usually means I need to pull over or call back when I am no longer using my car kit as most of the time the other person just cannot hear me.
While I applaud Pioneer for putting together a stereo with all these features, I seriously have to question their QA processes - as these basic errors should have been fixed up well before any units were shipped.
I do have some hope however - as the stereo is software upgradeable, it may well be possible for Pioneer to update the software on the device and fix 99% of these issues. In the meantime though, steer clear of this unit - and hold off until either the issues are fixed, or the next model comes along.