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Thread: Hardware Review: Car/Droid Double Din All In One Car Multimedia System

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    Hardware Review: Car/Droid Double Din All In One Car Multimedia System


    What is it?

    The Bybyte Car/Droid is a fully featured double DIN multimedia system with a detachable 6.5" Android Tablet.

    The Verdict:

    As a whole, the Bybyte Car/Droid is a feature packed multimedia system giving you the bits of the best things a car PC has to offer. The device harnesses the power of a standard head unit with the power of Android, and sprinkles in a little iPod connectivity on the side. When viewed separately, the double DIN head unit still manages to incorporate most of what the device was made to do, while the Android tablet is crippled by its hardware limitations.

    What’s in the box?

    The Car/Droid comes jammed packed with every cable needed to connect the system to your vehicles audio wiring harness and other support devices. Included is the double DIN radio, the detachable Android tablet with case, a separate 12v power brick for the tablet, external GPS, a proprietary iPod connector, radio wiring harness, and a host of cables for optional accessories like rear DVD and rear camera support. An instruction manual is generously included, but strangely omits information regarding the head unit.


    Description:

    A double DIN radio, created to house an Android tablet with the backing of the popular Android Market. What's not to love about it? The idea behind the Bybyte Car/Droid is quite clear up front. The device can be used simply to play music, allow hands free phone usage in the car, or allow the kids to watch a DVD through a rear screen (not included). Bring the tablet with you, and do all of this, as well as just about anything that an Android device can do. Stream Pandora, listen to Sirius, or perhaps play a game. When factoring all this with the idea that you can easily connect your iPod device and control its music playback all through the 6.5" touchscreen the tablet provides, it seems that the creators of the Car/Droid have considered everything. Heck, you can even easily connect your built in steering wheel controls to the Car/Droid and configure their usage right from the tablet's interface.


    Sounds like everything that anyone that doesn't want to hack into a dash would desire from a multimedia vehicle system. The Car/Droid is technically just that, but beyond the surface is where you could find the device is not the dream system that non-hobbyist yearn for.


    Let's start with the good. The "Car" portion of the Car/Droid device is rather satisfying in itself. While not particularly modern looking or stylish, you do get a head unit that is absolutely jam packed with available features. In fact, the only features that the head unit does not allow for is the use of the included GPS receiver, and the rear camera connection. Because there is no touchscreen, and save for the small VFD on the face, no screen at all, you could hardly use or control a navigation system. The head unit will obviously allow CD playback, but will also accept a DVD and feed it to a rear screen, or you can connect a TV antenna and feed that through to a rear screen. You can accept phone calls with the device and speak through the built-in mic port (that surprising works well), and will even accept a micro-SD card for auxiliary playback.


    On the rear of the head unit, you'll find connections for all of the optional accessories, as well as your standard looking wiring harness for your speaker and power connections. There's also a fan which keeps the unit cool under the wildest of temperatures ensuring you have all features regardless of the weather conditions. The creators of the Car/Droid were wise in considering the mounting depth of the device and making sure the wiring will not interfere with installations in cramped DIN openings.


    The face of the head unit is sprawled out with control buttons for all of the media device options. You get six presets for radio, and can control Radio/TV/DVD/Audio with the same sets of buttons. Again, the device doesn't look as fancy as most aftermarket radios out today, but it at least has all of the controls needed without having to do too much hand surfing. Below the tablet dock mount are the volume and mute buttons, a source/power button, a host of buttons for some of the advanced features like phone and "pad" mode (more on this later), as well as the built-mic and IR receiver for the included remote control.


    The obvious key feature of the Car/Droid is the Android tablet dock, and plugging the tablet into the dock is done without fuss. Once docked, the Android tablet instantly displays your main menu in a touch friendly interface that I will call "radio" mode. Here you have options to change instantly between sources like Music, Radio, iPod, and Phone. While the main menu works well with the head unit to present you with whatever source you want, here is also where the first problem is presented. The Android tablet, at its best, displays a 800x480 resolution. To us car PC users, this is pretty standard, but the "radio" mode of the device does a very poor job of utilizing that resolution to its fullest. The main menu, and each screen under this mode uses colors and gradients you could easily find something manufactured by ColecoVision in the 80's. It's obvious that more work should have been done in the interface design of this mode.


    The alternative mode is "pad". Pressing the pad button on the head unit instantly transforms your tablet into a standard Android-style tablet. You get Android 2.1.x with the "Droid" portion of the Car/Droid device. To this date, the latest publicly released build of android is in the 2.3 range, so the Android tablet which comes with the Car/Droid is a few years out of date on the software side. Aside from the touchscreen friendly Home, Menu, and Back buttons which always display in the notification area on the tablet, it appears to be a "vanilla" Android experience. Still though, with Android comes the power of Android applications. With the Android market, you can download a host of applications which enhance the tablet's ability to act as a vehicle multimedia system. Google Maps can use the head unit's external GPS for navigation (internet is still required however). You can get better music applications, download Facebook, and most anything else you'd want to do while driving in a car. Because of the version of Android available to the tablet, some pretty large enhancements are not allowed. You can not use the popular Google Music streaming service, you can not get Adobe Flash. Good luck flinging your angry bird around.


    The top of the tablet has buttons for Android functions Power, Menu, and Back, as well as the button which releases the device from the head unit. The side of tablet has connections for power, USB, USB-Host, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and strangely enough an HDMI output. It's odd to see an HDMI output on a device which such small resolution. A plus of the tablet is that it too has a micro SD port for external storage. It also charges while docked into the head unit.


    Despite the appeal of the head unit, the centerpiece for the Car/Droid is the tablet and it's touchscreen. Sadly, you're restricted far too much by the tablets specifications to actually enjoy using it anywhere other than the car. For starters, you are limited by a restrictive touchscreen, which is particularly hit-or-miss when it comes to presses and debilitated when scrolling. It is also extremely reflective to sunlight or other light sources.

    The other specifications for the tablet aren't as impressive either for the most part. Inside you get a 720mhz processor, 256MB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage, most of which is occupied by Android and pre-installed applications. Also of note, the battery life of the unit I tested was very poor. In fact, in the amount of time needed to post this review the battery meter went from 90% to 40% with minimal use. While the tablet is removable and this is a pro, i'm afraid you won't get much use from it outside of the car.


    The Positive:

    • Device capable of doing everything a All-In-One is made to do
    • Detachable screen ensures portability and security
    • Offers a very good hands-free phone experience
    • Head unit automatically controls and powers tablet when docked
    • Tablet can use the GPS connected to head unit while docked
    • Head Unit is feature rich and can do most of what the device does without the tablet installed.
    • SD Card ports on tablet and head unit allow for abundance of storage options
    • Simple iPod hookup and control


    The Negative:

    • Tablet is running outdated version of Android and is not upgradeable
    • Tablet specs limit the effectiveness of the Android experience in the car
    • Included controlling application uses poor resolution and poor graphic interface
    • Tablet as tested had a poor battery and is not replaceable
    • Low resolution and sunlight readability


    The Verdict:

    As a whole, the Bybyte Car/Droid is a feature packed multimedia system giving you the bits of the best things a car PC has to offer. The device harnesses the power of a standard head unit with the power of android, and sprinkles in a little iPod connectivity on the side. When viewed as separately, the double DIN head unit still manages to incorporate most of what the device was made to do, while the android tablet is crippled by it's own hardware limitations.

    For more pictures on the device, please check out my album.

  2. #2
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    Sorry for the long review gents, but it honestly should have been longer. There are many pictures that were omitted because of the post limitation so please feel free to check out the album linked to in the blog post for more.
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    Great review! A pretty BOLD concept from Bybyte and they are to be commended, but as you so clearly point out, the "Devil's in the details". The limitations of the Android hardware and the decision to use Eclair rather than Gingerbread or even Honeycomb (Ice Cream Sandwich would have been nice too) really limits what you're going to be able to use vis-a-vis the Android market. I've been working with a number of low-cost Android tablets, custom ROMs and upgraded builds, and market compatibility is a BIG issue. with a custom (read HACK) install, a lot of times the Android market will not recognize your device as a valid Android device and many apps will not install.

    Very interesting!

    VegasGuy

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    great review! you know it is plenty detailed when you hit the word-per-post limit

    unfortunately, you confirmed my first thoughts of the device-- great concept, great looks, poor software..

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    Quote Originally Posted by soundman98 View Post
    great review! you know it is plenty detailed when you hit the word-per-post limit

    unfortunately, you confirmed my first thoughts of the device-- great concept, great looks, poor software..
    The thing is, I can develop an application for android that could do a better job, but because "radio" mode software is built into the OS kernel, i couldn't replicate all if its functions without the source. That, and the fact that it'd probably take a lot of time to do and it'd only really work for this device kinda makes it useless.

    I'm hoping perhaps that this will be a version 1 scenario. Maybe i'll see some similar products at CES in a few weeks.
    Last edited by Sonicxtacy02; 12-15-2011 at 08:18 AM.
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    I've never seen this unit before. I'm still waiting for a review on these http://ca-fi.com/en/ . I can't wait to get a price on the ca-fi 701200.

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    Looks like a good start for the android OS to break into the auto media industry.

    I have not had a good experience with android tablets especially the touch screen which this product does not do too well in. When you are mobile whether walking or riding in a car you want fast response time and precise touch. Bybyte does not seem to come through here with this, you can have a great media system in the backbone but if you can't access it or enjoy it the point is kind of gone.

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    You left a few things out of this review that were dealbreakers for me. (I purchased the unit and then sent it back.) When you turn on the unit, the startup screen says "I love you" with some random website address (somebody's blog). According to the company, it cannot be removed or changed.

    Additionally, getting support from the company (which is in China) is absolutely AWFUL. They are slow to respond and they sometimes don't even respond at all. The company I purchased it from had put their email onto the unit just to test it. However, once it was there, it couldn't be removed from the device and it was the default for Android market purchases. The reset procedure that the company provided didn't work. So they had to send out a completely different unit.

    Finally, the response time of the tablet is very slow (in addition to the bad accuracy for key presses). Granted, it's primarily used for the car so maybe that's not an issue. But don't expect to use the tablet for anything else but in the car. It's not even close to powerful enough. If you're thinking that you get the bonus of a tablet with this, you really don't as it would function much too slowly as a tablet.

    My advice is don't buy this unit. They have a 2.3 version supposedly coming out, but it will have the same processor so it will also be very slow. They need to fix all of these problems AND DRAMATICALLY improve their customer support before you should take a risk on this unit.

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    As an aside, if you're looking to do research on the manufacturer of the unit, it's Erisin Electronics in Hong Kong. It's probably not ByByte's fault that the customer service is so poor, as they have to rely completely on Erisin. But, when you're paying a $250+ premium on the unit, you'd expect to get much better support. ByByte ultimately made me whole (sans shipping it back), so they deserve some credit for that. But it wasn't without a lot of pushing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by black_or_white View Post
    You left a few things out of this review that were dealbreakers for me. (I purchased the unit and then sent it back.) When you turn on the unit, the startup screen says "I love you" with some random website address (somebody's blog). According to the company, it cannot be removed or changed.

    Additionally, getting support from the company (which is in China) is absolutely AWFUL. They are slow to respond and they sometimes don't even respond at all. The company I purchased it from had put their email onto the unit just to test it. However, once it was there, it couldn't be removed from the device and it was the default for Android market purchases. The reset procedure that the company provided didn't work. So they had to send out a completely different unit.

    Finally, the response time of the tablet is very slow (in addition to the bad accuracy for key presses). Granted, it's primarily used for the car so maybe that's not an issue. But don't expect to use the tablet for anything else but in the car. It's not even close to powerful enough. If you're thinking that you get the bonus of a tablet with this, you really don't as it would function much too slowly as a tablet.

    My advice is don't buy this unit. They have a 2.3 version supposedly coming out, but it will have the same processor so it will also be very slow. They need to fix all of these problems AND DRAMATICALLY improve their customer support before you should take a risk on this unit.
    The first thing I did was factory restore then remove that boot screen through abd. I figured it was something that was only applied to my test unit lol. Very odd that they would ship it with that screen.

    Curious what you thought of the head unit portion of the device
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