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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I accidentally high jacked this thread: Phone Holder

So I thought I'd start a new thread to talk about Android head units.

My SL has cutting edge AV and nav technology... for 2012. But, quite frankly, it sucks compared to modern car infotainment systems. There's actually a dedicated DVD player under the passenger seat just for the Nav system's maps on DVD! The display is small and it isn't a touchscreen (entering destinations with the little joystick is SO slow!). It has Bluetooth for phone, but not for streaming music. There's no back-up camera.

While shopping for my used Titan, I found that the technology leap form 2012 to 2013 was pretty big. Still not up to modern standards, but a big leap forward. But, I got the right deal on a 2012, so here I am. On my particular Titan, the OEM nav screen as all scratched up from previous owners using the ledge in front of the screen as a tray to hold things. I looked into getting a replacement screen, and a used screen in good condition is $200. Plus, I want to add a back-up camera. Adding a good one with a display in the rear view mirror would cost another $150. Buying a map update from Nissan would cost $80. So after spending over $400, I'd still have 2012 tech in my truck.

I've been looking at Android head units with oversized displays for a while. I can get modern technology (Android 9.1 or 10) a big touchscreen, GPS, video, Android Auto, screen mirroring, apps like Waze & Google Maps, video playback, front and reverse cameras, OBD2 dashborad and a whole bunch of other cool stuff for $150-$250, depending on the model. Reviews on these units tend to be pretty good. I can also get a 3-year protection policy through Amazon for about $30, so the risk in trying one of these units is pretty small.

What is probably the hardest part of this, at least for my SL with factory nav and the Rockford Fosgate stereo, is getting rid of the original stuff. I need a new, non-nav bezel for the center stack and a new radio faceplate with a standard DDIN opening. The bezel is $289-$420 new, depending on source. The radio kit is pretty cheap, but won't have the woodgrain finish like the original. (I'm ok with that, since Nissan's woodgrain looks awful anyway.) Then there's the issue of whether to de-Fosgate the truck or keep using the Fosgate speakers, amps and subwoofer.

I've been watching Fleabay and managed to find a center bezel for $150. After I receive it and make sure it's in good enough condition to put in my truck, I'll decide on which head unit to buy .

Ok, that's my long-winded introduction to this thread. I know there's a thread on the Phoenix "Tesla style" head unit for Gen 2 Titans. Has anyone here already bought and installed an Android head unit in a 1st Gen Titan? Anyone else thinking about it and have some research to contribute?
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, I ordered my Android head unit and should receive it on Saturday. There was a price drop from $299 to $245, plus a 5% off coupon. I also got the 3 year electronics protection for $33. I figure it's a small risk to try out this type of stereo, since my worst-case scenario is that I lose $33. It comes with a dash cam, back-up cam, and Bluetooth OBD2 scanner. I'm going to add the Android Auto dongle as well. It should be a fun setup to play with!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
The cluster surround and head unit both arrived today. I ordered the mounting kit and assorted wiring harness adapters, but they won't be here until late next week. Just for kicks, I did a quick mock-up too see how the screen will fit.

IMG_20200711_214542 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

IMG_20200711_214516 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

IMG_20200711_214528 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

IMG_20200711_214553 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

I'll be able to fine tune the fit after it's installed, as the screen is adjustable for height, as wells as up/down and right/left tilt. I'm looking forward to getting it fully installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Part of the deal with this head unit are the included accessories... But they aren't included. You get a forward facing dash cam, back-up cam and OBD2 dongle, but you have to order them separately.



The explanation is that Amazon ships these items from different warehouses, blah, blah, blah... Anyway, this is the first snag I've hit with this unit (just a small annoyance, really). The seller emailed me the product link and a discount code for the back-up cam and the OBD2 dongle and said a third link and code for the dash cam would be forthcoming. The links and codes from the first email didn't work. I contacted them and they emailed and they sent me new links and codes. These worked, but not completely. The discount codes left an amount of $2.71 and $2.49, respectively, for me to pay for the dash cam and backup camera. Not a huge deal, but still annoying. I still haven't gotten the link and code for the dash cam, so I emailed them again this morning. Hopefully, I'll get that code soon so I can get all the pieces of this puzzle together. I want to do the install all at one time, not piecemeal.

To their credit, they have been quite responsive to my e-mails and I whoever is typing them actually writes very clear and understandable English. I understand that snags happen and, especially right now with COVID, anything that has to be imported is moving slow. I manage a Best Buy store, so may patience and understanding with this sort of thing is probably higher than average. Getting all bent out of shape doesn't accomplish anything other than making the person you're asking for help NOT want to help you!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The accessories, once I get them, look to be pretty cool!

The back-up camera:

It's nice and compact. Should fit up in the tailgate handle area for a stealthy installation. It's waterproof, has a 120 degree field of view, and has the reverse guide lines.


The OBD2 scanner:

Meh, what can I say? It's a bluetooth OBD2 scanner. If you've every played with one of these you know how cool it is to have access to all of your car's data at your fingertips. But that's really all about the app you use. I have Torque Pro. Don't be a cheap-***... Pay for the full version and you'll never regret it. The only real differentiators for these can tools are reliability (won't know that until I've had it for awhile), strength of the Bluetooth signal (same thing), and whether it powers down when the car is off or keeps using power when you're parked (that only matters if you have a weak battery or leave your car parked for weeks at a time).

Finally, the dash cam: (This is the piece I have yet to get ordered)


It's 720p, so nothing special as far as resolution. It does have a slot for an on-board microSD card, so you don;t use up the head unit's memory for recording. It has built-in Driver Assist features such as lane departure warning and collision warning. I'm intrigued to see how well those work. 30 FPS, loop recording, file locking, time and GPS stamps. Overall, it's pretty full-featured, but nothing that stands out above other similar cams.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I took the new head unit to work yesterday and gave it to my Autotech to play with. He powered it up on his bench and, so far, he's impressed. The screen looks gorgeous and responsiveness is great. He's excited to get to play with it more after I install it.

To that end, I'm slowly (or so it feels) gathering all the installation parts. I ordered all of the Metra parts (installation kit, wiring harness, steering wheel control interface, factory amp interface) from Best Buy and they should all be here about the end of this week. I also ordered the two cams and the OBD2 scanner from Amazon. The backup cam and scanner arrived yesterday. The dashcam should be here by the weekend.

Along with the backup cam and scanner, I also received two USB extensions that I ordered.
IMG_20200714_074020 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

One is your typical extension with socket that you mount by drilling a hole.
IMG_20200714_074129 by
IMG_20200714_074055 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

IMG_20200714_074045 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

On my truck, there is one unused space in the center switch panel, so I can replace that blanking plate with this to get a convenient stereo input and a charger. Now for the " * sort of" part... The Amazon listing says this is made to fit Nissan, but doesn't say which models of Nissan. So, It may very well fit some Nissans without modification, but not the Titan. One of the reviewers on Amazon had the same issue, so I was expecting this. IF you're handy enough to do this sort of installation yourself, you can handle the fitting needed to get this part to work.

What I had to do was grind off the ridges of both sides of the part and save the larger detent a little to make it small enough to engage the notch that holds it in place .

IMG_20200714_074113 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

IMG_20200714_074119 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

With that done, it pops right in and holds firm. The fit is not perfect, but it's acceptable. There are some small gaps at the sides, but I'll stick some black foam on each side of the socket and those will disappear.

IMG_20200714_081408 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

I'll mount the other USB extension either in the glove box or the center console. I'm leaning toward the glove box for that one, since I rarely have anything in there anyway and use the center console storage area daily. I'd hate to have a USB drive break off in the socket because I threw something on top of it in the center console.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
More parts for the install arrived today:

Line output converter (to integrate with the factory amps) and antenna adapter:
IMG_20200715_182123 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

Mounting kit with new radio bezel:
IMG_20200715_182113 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

Now, I'm just waiting for the main wiring harness to arrive.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Got the harness, then today I got one more piece of the puzzle: the front-facing cam. Just need to get the steering wheel control interface and I can install everything!
IMG_20200718_190557 by Rex Keely, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I got what should be the last two pieces of the puzzle. The steering wheel interface and the part that allows me to keep the factory bluetooth controls. I'm not sure if I really need that last piece, but I'd rather have it and not need it than have to delay the installation

IMG_20200721_201902 by Rex Keely, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm planning on doing the radio install this weekend. The only real negative with getting rid of the RF system is that some of the "advanced features" like speed sensitive wipers, door re-lock time, and headlight auto-off time delay are all controlled through the factory head unit. I'm assuming that I will need to set those features how I want them, and then they will be locked at those settings when I change the head unit. I strongly doubt that I will be able to access the menus to make any adjustments through the new Android head unit. While that is a (very) little bit of a bother, I imagine most don't adjust those settings frequently, anyway. I think it's a pretty small trade off for all the features I'll be adding with the new unit.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I spent the last 2 days cleaning and reorganizing my garage. Then I finally got started on the stereo install today.

First, I got the harnesses wired up, as well as the radio connections for the steering wheel control interface. unfortunately, the included screws are too short for me to mount the radio to the mounting kit, so I'll have to find slightly longer one tomorrow.

Next, I started yanking out all the original equipment. Since I'm replacing the full center cluster surround, it took more disassembly than if I was just replacing a standard radio. I had remove the trim around the storage bucket in the center console and the shifter. That gave me the chance to replace the failing bulb that illuminates the shifter position markers. Off came the original radio/climate control face plate. Damn, there are a LOT of plugs to remove from that piece! Then I had to take off the glove box and it's housing and the kick plate under the steering wheel. That let me finally remove the center cluster surround. After that, I pulled the 6 CD changer, stereo, GPS unit and the display screen (lots more plugs!). It's kind of funny how many components it took in 2012 to do less that what a single head unit can do in 2020.

After all of that, I needed switch over some of the components to the new face plate and surround. Those included the row of switches at the bottom (plus my new dual USB plug), the blank plate where the 4WD switch would go on a 4X4, the climate controls, and the air bag decal. On the dual USB plug, I ran the USB extension cable up to the head unit location, then wired up the charging port to power and ground. Finally, I plugged in the climate controls and reinstalled the glove box and kick plate.

That's it for tonight. I know it reads like a short bit of work, but it actually took a fair amount of time. I was going slow, learning where things are under the skin of the interior and making plans for the next steps.
Before:
IMG9582241 by Rex Keely, on Flickr
After:
IMG_20200729_222202 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

It all looks very normal, which I consider a success. Hopefully, I'll get the time to install the radio tomorrow. I'll probably wait to install the front and rear cameras another time. Those will be projects in and of themselves. I know the woodgrain around the shifter is going to bug the hell outta me. I'm going to have to find a replacement that is the "lower end" silver to match the new stereo/climate control face plate. I kinda think Nissan's "woodgrain" looks like crap, anyway. Plus, Nissan only added woodgrain in the center of the dash, with no other bits (like on the steering wheel or doors) to make it fell integrated. Who knows, maybe I'll add my own woodgrain dash kit later on.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I spent the last 2 days cleaning and reorganizing my garage. Then I finally got started on the stereo install today.

First, I got the harnesses wired up, as well as the radio connections for the steering wheel control interface. unfortunately, the included screws are too short for me to mount the radio to the mounting kit, so I'll have to find slightly longer one tomorrow.

Next, I started yanking out all the original equipment. Since I'm replacing the full center cluster surround, it took more disassembly than if I was just replacing a standard radio. I had remove the trim around the storage bucket in the center console and the shifter. That gave me the chance to replace the failing bulb that illuminates the shifter position markers. Off came the original radio/climate control face plate. Damn, there are a LOT of plugs to remove from that piece! Then I had to take off the glove box and it's housing and the kick plate under the steering wheel. That let me finally remove the center cluster surround. After that, I pulled the 6 CD changer, stereo, GPS unit and the display screen (lots more plugs!). It's kind of funny how many components it took in 2012 to do less that what a single head unit can do in 2020.

After all of that, I needed switch over some of the components to the new face plate and surround. Those included the row of switches at the bottom (plus my new dual USB plug), the blank plate where the 4WD switch would go on a 4X4, the climate controls, and the air bag decal. On the dual USB plug, I ran the USB extension cable up to the head unit location, then wired up the charging port to power and ground. Finally, I plugged in the climate controls and reinstalled the glove box and kick plate.

That's it for tonight. I know it reads like a short bit of work, but it actually took a fair amount of time. I was going slow, learning where things are under the skin of the interior and making plans for the next steps.
Before:
IMG9582241 by Rex Keely, on Flickr
After:
IMG_20200729_222202 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

It all looks very normal, which I consider a success. Hopefully, I'll get the time to install the radio tomorrow. I'll probably wait to install the front and rear cameras another time. Those will be projects in and of themselves. I know the woodgrain around the shifter is going to bug the hell outta me. I'm going to have to find a replacement that is the "lower end" silver to match the new stereo/climate control face plate. I kinda think Nissan's "woodgrain" looks like crap, anyway. Plus, Nissan only added woodgrain in the center of the dash, with no other bits (like on the steering wheel or doors) to make it fell integrated. Who knows, maybe I'll add my own woodgrain dash kit later on.
[/QUOTE]
Okay... I'm not done, but I'm done for today.

Here's what I got done:
  • Got the stereo hooked up and mounted.*
  • Hooked up both USB inputs.
  • Got the Steering Wheel Control interface wired up.*
  • Got everything put back together enough to go to work tomorrow.
Here's what I have left to do:
  • Hook up and decide where to mount the WIFI & GPS antennae
  • Run the wire for the remote microphone
  • Hook up the front and rear cameras
  • *Get the damned SWC interface to work correctly
  • * See if i can get it to mount a little deeper into the dash
Thankfully, there is a lot of open space inside the Titan's dash, because there is a crap-ton of wiring harness that has to be stuffed back in there. I can certainly understand why many would pay to have this job done professionally. I'm just too cheap, stubborn and impatient to wait for an appointment (even though I can get it done for damn near free, lol!) I'l have my Installer double check my work when he gets back from his vacation.

Sound:
  • It sounds okay right now. My right dash speaker is blown right now, so it'll sound better in a few days when I receive the replacement and get it mounted.
  • I Viunhooked the front center speaker based on advice I read on this forum. I might plug it back in, though. When using the bluetooth for phone calls, most of the sound is directed to that speaker, so right now phone calls are barely audible. That impression may change when I replace the blown dash speaker, so we'll have to wait and see.
  • This head unit has a DSP built in that allows an amazing amount of sound customizing. I'll play with it a bit after I get all the speakers installed.
  • I haven't verified 100%, but I think the RF subwoofer isn't working now. That kind of makes sense, since there are outputs on the stereo for Front R/L, Rear R/L and Subwoofer, but there was no place on the Metra wiring harness adapter to hook up the subwoofer. Oh well, the RF subwoofer sucks anyway. I have a Kicker Hideaway HS8 that I bought for another project and never used. It can't be any worse than the RF sub and it would be very easy to hook up in the same location.
Visuals:
  • The display is gorgeous! Light years ahead of the old display. (Plus it's not all scratched up, lol!) 10.1 inches of screen is a major improvement.
  • The unit sticks out of the dash a little more than I would prefer. This is a give/take situation, as that extra distance gives you enough room to tilt the screen. It tilts to adjust up/down and right/left. If it sat flush to the dash, you wouldn't be able to do that; you'd have to keep the screen flat to the dash. So this might just be a function over form kinda of thing. It actually looks really nice from the driver's seat. It just looks a bit weird from the other side, I'll have to decide if it bugs me enough to do anything about it.
  • The display is also height adjustable. I have it set about 1 notch down from the highest setting. I like that I don;t have to look way down to see it, but it doesn't stick up into my line of sight while driving.
  • The color of the controls on the right side bezel can be adjusted. It was pretty easy for me to match the orange of the other lighting on my Titan's dash.
What you all care about... pictures!

Radio tuner
IMG_20200730_173142 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

Sound control panel
IMG_20200730_173203 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

Adjusting for driver position
IMG_20200730_173211 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

Adjusting color to match the instruments
IMG_20200730_173638 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

Lowest height setting
IMG_20200730_183248 by Rex Keely, on Flickr

Highest setting
IMG_20200730_183302 by Rex Keely, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter #15

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Wow nice thorough review. I have a 2005 that I purchased new. It's really behind the times in the tech department and I've been considering something like this. Why didn't they make it so the screen would bit "in" the bezel, it kinda looks funky hanging out there like that, no? Do you have better pics of how that's in there?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
You can buy units with different sized screens. A 7" screen would fit inside a standard DDIN bezel. There's also a 9" version and I bought the unit with a 10.1" screen. I'm going to fab up my own brackets to allow the unit to mount about and inch further inside the dash, so that the screen doesn't stick out quite so far. I'm okay with it sticking out of the bezel in order to get such a big screen.
 
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