Solutions to Navigation difficulties and poor interface

Introduction

First of all: If you JUST bought a Pioneer head unit that has the navigation problems about to be described, consider returning it immediately and getting something else. Either a newer Pioneer product or something from another brand. This writing isn’t meant to bash on Pioneer, though they arguably have done some wrong things with the iPod adapter product. Personally I like their products. But there is a design flaw here. This page is for those of us that upgraded to the iPod adapter after already owning an older model head unit, or got stuck with it after having it ‘sold’ to us not realizing its shortcomings are are now stuck. (Unless we want to eBay it and spend more for something else.)

Anyone that’s come here to deal with the poor interface and navigation controls in Pioneer’s car stereo head unit products in association with the iPod adapter CD-IB100 knows frustration. My head unit is DEH-P4700MP and I’m using the Pioneer CD-IB100 iPodĀ® Interface Adapter for Pioneer Head Units. I bought it at Circuit City and they installed it. After trying the bulky cordless options to get my iPod on the older radio, I was thrilled to have a direct connection.

Until I tried to navigate my playlists and such. It’s all but effectively unusable.

The History

Apparently, the CD-IB100 adapter was created for more advanced models of head unit – such as the AVH series – than the ones “we” are using and having problems with. Apparently, it just happens to turn out that the interface does “work” with many of their pre-existing units. So the product is justifiably sold as a solution. Though no one will tell you of the playlist navigation challenges.

The Basic Problem

The most basic problem is probably that salespeople don’t know exactly what they’re selling or how the products really work. Essentially though, the head unit where all the typical control buttons are for radio, CD player and so on, doesn’t have either display or control buttons that work the iPod well. The display is understandable as you easily can see that going in. (Though you’d think it would scroll the available data as it seems the product will overscroll other data not from the iPod.) Anyway, the core issue is that to navigate through longer lists, you have to use a down press on the rocker control for every step down. Holding it down does not automatically scroll or acclerate a list scroll. Either by design or some likely fast and vocal customer feedback, newer models have what they call the “Rotary Commander.” They seem quite proud of this in their literature, when it’s actually just a solution to a design flaw they as likely as not became aware of based on complaints. One could argue that it’s not really Pioneer’s fault as they maybe didn’t intend to have the iPod adapter work with some older head units. Those units just happen to be able to handle the interface. But then they should be telling their dealers to either not sell it for such units or MINIMALLY, at least be clear as to its limitations. And also at the very least, have better documentation as to how to handle the obvious and known challenges in using the product.

If Pioneer had any serious marketing brains, they’d offer any existing customers of older head units who also purchased the iPod adapter a drastic discount on newer units. It’s more likely than not that even after adapting to the interface, such customers are unlikely to ever buy another Pioneer product without some consideration.


Some Solutions

Trick the Radio to Allow iPod Control Use

Description:

Trick the head unit to let you use the iPod to navigate your iPod instead of just showing the charging screen.

Instructions:

  • Shut off auto ignition.
  • Make sure iPod is not connected to the adapter.
  • If the unit was on, the Pioneer message should go away and the iPod menu should display.
  • Turn the Ipod off.
  • Use the Hold switch to put the iPod in HOLD mode.
  • Plug in the iPod adapter.
  • Wait at least 5 seconds.
  • Turn the automobile on.
  • The Charge message will come up on the iPod.
  • Switch OFF the HOLD mode switch.
  • This should now show the Pioneer display.
  • Press MENU on the iPod and you should now be at the iPod menu.
  • Use the iPod to navigate your playlists, songs, etc.
  • Obviously, only navigate with your iPod once you are safely pulled over on the side of the road; not while driving.

NOTE: If this trick works for you, you may want to consider NOT updating your iPod software. It’s possible some software upgrade could accidentally elminate this workaround.

Customize Your Playlists for Car

Description:

Since you can use, (in at least some Pioneer head unit models), the Band Button to access and then scroll down in the top level Music menu, setting up Playlists for auto can save you from having to tediously navigate deeply into alphabetical artist and song lists.

Instructions:

  • The head unit’s navigation uses the same stack control features as a huge hidden CD changer would use.
  • So first, set up Playlists for your car.
  • You will most likely not go to the effort to print or otherwise try to become aware of the specific track numbers for all of what may be thousands of songs. That’s ok. You’re just going to be able to mitigate your problem a bit, not solve it.
  • Once your in a Playlist, use the remote control to make an educated guess as to about how far forward you want to go and type in a number, then press the [OK] key. So if you’re in the Artists section, and have 2,000 songs and you’re looking for something starting in the R’s, try entering 1,000 and see where you end up. Once you’ve done your intial iPod load, it’s unlikely additional updates will radically change about where the artist breakdowns are. Over time, you should be able to get close enough that it’ll still be a hassle, but it won’t be effectively unusable.

Manual Single Song Selection

Description:

If you just absolutely have to listen to one particular song and you haven’t set up a playlist or have an easy way to get to it.

Instructions:

  • Unhook the iPod from the adapter.
  • Navigate to the song you want using the standard iPod interface.
  • Start playing the song.
  • Plug the iPod back in the adapter.
  • It should play from that song. You can use the left/back button to back up to the beginning of the song.

Random Shuffle

Description:

This is not really a solution to the navigation problem. Just another option that’s available to you. The instructions for this should be in the product manual under the MP3/WMA/WAV Player chapter under “Repeating Play” and “Playing tracks in a random order” sections. In my manual anyway, these are the instuctions…

Instructions

  • Press FUNCTION to display the function names.
  • Press repeatedly until you get to RPT.
  • Press the < or > buttons to select the “repeat range” which will be FLD – Repeat the Current Folder, TRK – Repeat the Current Track, or DSC – Repeat all tracks. Perhaps obviously, you’re going to want to select either FLD or DSC, (probably DSC), not TRK.
  • Now press FUNCTION again, repeatedly if necessary, until RDM is in the display.
  • Press the up button ^ to turn Random Play on. RDM:ON should appear in the display.
  • Press the down button to turn random play off. RDM: OFF should appear in the display.

You’ve Tried These Hacks and They Don’t Work or Stopped Working

Description:

An iTunes or similar upgrade, possibly to Version 7, MAY break the ability to use these workarounds.

Instructions:

  • The following MAY fix the problem…
  • Start iTunes
  • Find the “Revert iPod Back to Factory Setting” option
  • Select it
  • See what happens (may work, may not. If it doesn’t, I don’t have any additional solutions for this one.)