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post #1 of (permalink) Old 09-22-2018 Thread Starter
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Android-based plug-and-play, OEM-look headunit discussion

Ok, so as some of you know, I just purchased an Eonon GA9180A Android 8.0 plug-and-play, OEM-look, DVD/Navigation head-unit. I've only had it for less than 24 hours and haven't even installed it in-car yet, but here are some initial impressions after messing with it for an hour or two "on the bench".

First, I had to figure out how to get it running "on the bench". Simply applying power and ground did not work at all like it does with some of the other units I've tested on the bench. I had to remove the CANBUS module and figure out how to also apply 12V to the ACC/Ignition wire (I had to apply power to ACC/Ignition on some of the WinCE units as well, but they had a separate, easily-accessible wire for that use, unlike this Eonon). Since I couldn't find any pinouts for the unit, I had to do some tracing with my multi-meter and made some assumptions (which is a little scary when you are applying 12V to something and aren't 100% sure it is what you think it is!). I assumed the red wire was the ACC/Igniton wire and figured out how to apply power to it (normally, power is applied to it via the CANBUS module).

So once I finally got it powered up, I checked it out a little. Overall, it's VERY cool running a full Android OS on your car radio - especially since it's fully integrated into your car (which is not an easy task). Being able to run familair Android apps natively is just awesome. The eplit-screen function is cool, but a lot of apps do not yet support it, so that was not quite as useful as I had hoped (but still is useful and a great feature). You can set the color of the backlit buttons by mixing red, green and blue - so you can always match the exact color of any dashboard - which is awesome. Running waze along with Spotify is great since Waze has a built-in spotify interface, for picture-in-picture use of Spotify from within waze. VERY cool. Unfrotunatley, Pandora does not supply split-screen mode, so that was kind of disappointing.

There are lots of "car specific" options that let you customize how GPS instructions are heard - you can silence the music when it talks or you can have the music muted - and you can even control how much the music mutes. You can also adjust the "preamp" level of each "input", which is nice (so that some sources aren't way louder than others). The 9-band EQ seems great - but since I haven't connected the unit "in car" yet, I can't comment on the overall sound quality - but it does seem good coming from my standalone stock Impala door speaker. :-) There is just *so* much flexibility in EVERYTHING you do on these units that it's a little "overbearing" at first. No longer are you limited to the few functions and interfaces that the manufacturer gives you - you can install custom car launchers, use any Android app, etc. So powerful.

Now for the bad... I believe this Eonon unit has a TFT screen (instead of an IPS screen, for example). The TFT screens are the type that lose brightness and saturation when viewed from angles. I never even thought to check the screen type! It's not REALLY bad, but I do notice the brightness and color-shift as I look at the screen from different angles. Not yet sure if that is a show-stopper for me yet or not. Would need to install it in-car to be sure. Another issues I noticed right away is that the pre-amp output harness doesn't include an amp-turn-on wire?!?! That just makes no sense to me whatsoever. I've never seen a head-unit provide line-level outputs and not also supply a amp-turn-on wire... Just plain stupid.

I still need to mess with the unit more, but I love the idea... May end up returning it and getting the Hizpo unit - it does advertise an IPS screen and is like $75 cheaper (and DOES have an amp-turn-on wire!!)..

If anyone wants me to test anything specific, let me know... It does appear that you can root these devices and there are even some custom firmwares, but I will not be doing any of that until I'm sure that I am keeping the radio...
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-22-2018 Thread Starter
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Something else that I both like and dislike...

This Eonon unit doesn't appear to have any kind of true dual-zone functionality. So I can't, for example, play a movie to my headrest monitors while navigating on the head-unit. What is kind of cool though is that it will send ALL video to the video output jacks automatically, so if you have a navigation app on your radio screen, it will also be output to the headrest monitors. Basically, it just sends ALL video to the headrest monitors - so they *always* show the same thing as the headunit screen (one way to stop those damn kids from asking "are we there yet" - let them watch the navigation screen themselves!). :-)

I wish there were a way to do either function (send separate audio/video to the video outs or the same video that is on the main screen) - that would be the ultimate setup...

Fortunately, I don't use my headrest monitors all that much anymore, so this isn't a deal-breaker, but it does kind of suck that I can't send movies to them separately if I wanted to...
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I am having a ball with this Android head-unit and I haven't even installed it in the car yet! :-)

I really didn't plan on installing it in the car until I spent some time messing with it "on the bench" and got everything setup (for the most part). To much of a PITA to run down to the car all of the time to test stuff, so having it on the bench is REALLY nice. Only problem is that I can't test stuff like actual in-car sound quality and CANBUS-related stuff (warning chimes, backup camera, RAP functions, etc).

Really, the only thing holding me back from keeping this unit for sure is the fact that I think the screen is a TFT screen (I'm waiting for confirmation on that). I'm just not sure I like the off-axis brightness and saturation loss. If it weren't for that, I'd install it in-car for sure for further testing (once I mess with it some more on the bench).

This kind of system defintiey benefits greatly from having always-on internet access - so to get the most from of a unit like this, you're going to need an "unlimited" (or high data cap) phone plan with hotspot functionality. You basically setup your phone as a hotspot and have the head-unit get to the internet through your phone - or install a full-time 4G USB wirelss dongle (that would be the best option, but also adds monthly expense). I do have an "unlimited", hotspot-capable phone plan, but it's through a second-rate provider (MetroPCS), so my reception isn't as good as an AT&T or Verizon plan. My plan would be to setup my phone so that it automatically enables hotspot mode whenever it detects the cars blueooth signal - and then turn it off when it no longer sees it. This would make internet access always available. There really is no need to use bluetooth streaming because all of your music apps are installed directly on the head-unit itself - and you are better off using it that way to avoid the poential sound-quality loss from using blueooth.

I've installed and tried a few different on- and off-line GPS apps (Google Maps, Waze, Sygic, iGo Primo Nextgen, etc). I'd probably go with iGo Nextgen for offline GPS and Waze for online GPS. Unfortunatley, it looks like iGo Primo doesn't work on Android 8.0 for some reason, which kind of sucks since that is what I'm used to. But I can get used to Primo Nextgen.

The built-in music player has a nice interface (album art is in a cirle and spins like a record), but limited functionality (no playlists or anything like that) - it will play full directories or even an entire SD/USB device - in regular, random and repeat modes. I will have to figure out which music app I'd want to use permanently (I want to be able to setup playlists, pick one and have the unit play the songs in the list in shuffle mode (for "offline" music). Would use either Pandora, Spotify or SiriusXM for "online" music. Honestly, I would probably dump SiriusXM in favor or Pandora and Spotify. SiriusXM is expensive for what it is - especially considering it's online only at that point (since these units don't support XM tuners at all).

Unit seems to play video files fine. Haven't tested HD files yet - just the SD files I had on an SD card already. Youtube works great.

Unit is very fast and fluid - and doesn't seem to heat up nearly as much as the WinCE units I've used.

Next I need to find my favorite "car launcher"... Lots of choices. I absolutely LOVE the flexibility these units offer...

Why in the world don't the big names like Pioneer, Kenwood, JVC, etc have full-Android units??? Makes no sense to me.
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JT,

Thanks for diving into the murky waters of Android head units.

Once you have the unit installed in your car, I'll be curious to hear how it performs.

Always having the same video output to all screens isn't an issue for me, since I have no headrest monitors. No need for them, since I've carried back seat passengers only twice in the two years I've had this car, and only during short in-town drives. For highway trips, it's always just me and the wife.

However, one complaint I've read about the backup camera functionality of many Android units is that they mute the audio whenever the vehicle is in reverse. Please let us know if this unit works the same, and if so, is there a workaround?

EDIT: The CarWebGuru launcher looks pretty interesting.

Cheers!

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You can enable/disable the auto sound mute when in reverse, so that is not a problem.

The launcher you mentioned and Car Launcher Pro are the ones that I want to try next...

I have already confirmed that the screen in the Hizpo unit is IPS. I'm waiting for confirmation that the screen in the Xtons is IPS (they look identical, so I'm assuming it is). If I find out that the screen in the Eonon is definitely TFT, I will most likely return the Eonon and just buy the Xtrons unit with the added DSP chip from China.

I've read that the 9 band EQ in the non-DSP units is really just bass, mid & treble with some "Q" adjustments. They call it a "fake" EQ. So the first 3 adjustments are for bass and bass "Q", next 3 are for Mid and Mid "Q" and the last 3 are for treble and treble "Q". Apparently, the Xtrons with the DSP chip is a REAL *15-band* EQ (plus you gets the other cool audio adjustments). I've decided that an EQ is an absolutle must - and the more bands, the better. All of these Android 8 units use the same processor chip ("PX5") and they probably use the same radio tuner chips, etc. I'm still learning about these Chinese Android head-units - it's a lot to learn...

The screen on the Eonon is generally OK, but if I look at it far enough from above or below, the color shift is pretty dramatic (a screen with a white backgroud will sort of look like reverse-video). I'm pretty sure it's a TFT screen. I just think an IPS screen would perform much better.

I'll probably put the Eonon in the car before I return it just to get a feel for the sound quality, RAP, CANBUS features, etc But based on the sound quality I get from the single Impala door speaker, I think it will be fine (sounds really good actually). I also want to make sure I don't get any alternator whine or anything like that. A lot of people go complain about blueooth noise with these radios (although I'd only use bluetooth for phone calls, so probably not a big deal either way for me).

But generally speaking, the Android system exceeded my expectations - it is just so flexible that it's hard to go back to a "basic" WinCE unit. Now that being said, some people may prefer the simplicity of the WInCE head-units. All depends on what you are looking for... I like flexibility, levers, dials and settings, so... :-)
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Here is a down-and-dirty video I made of the Eonon GA9180A screen viewing angles. It's especially apparent on screens with a white background and grey/black text.

I've only seen this type of issue on the older, cheaper TFT screens, which I believe this is (still waiting for confirmation).

Thoughts?

https://youtu.be/EesX8irojZU

I don't think this would be a huge problem in day-to-day use, but I'd rather not have the color and contrast change from different angles like that at all...
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It's not too bad from below, but pretty bad from a high angle.

How are the color shift and washout from side to side, especially from the driver's and seats?


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From side to side, it's more of a dimming effect than the huge color/contrast change that you get from up and down angles... Since I have not yet installed the unit in the car, I'm not sure how much it would affect actual real-world usage. Eventually, I need to install the unit in-car to get final impressions of sound quality and this screen issue. I have a feeling that it's not going to be a huge deal since you're not 'up close' to the screen when using it in the car - you'd basically have to go out of your way to get the angles that cause the major issues.

And I should clarify. It's not IPS vs. TFT - it's actually, IPS vs. TN. Both IPS and TN are both types of "TFT" screens (I'm not a screen expert!).

I did get some more answers back about the screen type used in the other Andoird head-units. So far, the only one that seems to use an IPS screen is the Hizpo unit (which can be had for only $299!). Here are the differences between the different brands:

Eonon: TN screen, no DSP, video-out from all sources all of the time - ~$360 (Amazon/Ebay)
Xtons: TN screen, no DSP, video-out only from DVD/Aux - $400 (direclty from Xtrons)
Hizpo: IPS screen, no DSP, video-out only from DVD/Aux (I believe) - ~$300 (Amazon, ~$320 from Ebay)
AndroidAudioStore (Xtrons w/DSP): TN screen, DSP chip, video-out only from DVD/Aux (I believe) - $400 (only available via AndroidAudioStore)

At this point, I'm tempted to order the Hizpo and then return either it or the Eonon, depending on which one I like better.

I *really* hate returning items, but unfortunately, in this case, the only way I can see what I'm getting is to order it and return it if I don't like it.

Do you think it's "wrong" of me to order another unit (the Hizpo) knowing that I'm going to return it or the Eonon?

I just have a feeling that the IPS screen in the Hizpo will be significantly better than the TN screen in the Eonon...

Last edited by jtrosky; 09-25-2018 at 07:13 AM. Reason: Added prices and correctly AndroidAudioStore detail (it's an Xtrons unit w/DSP, no Hizpo)
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Originally Posted by jtrosky View Post
From side to side, it's more of a dimming effect than the huge color/contrast change that you get from up and down angles... Since I have not yet installed the unit in the car, I'm not sure how much it would affect actual real-world usage. Eventually, I need to install the unit in-car to get final impressions of sound quality and this screen issue. I have a feeling that it's not going to be a huge deal since you're not 'up close' to the screen when using it in the car - you'd basically have to go out of your way to get the angles that cause the major issues.

And I should clarify. It's not IPS vs. TFT - it's actually, IPS vs. TN. Both IPS and TN are both types of "TFT" screens (I'm not a screen expert!).

I did get some more answers back about the screen type used in the other Andoird head-units. So far, the only one that seems to use an IPS screen is the Hizpo unit (which can be had for only $299!). Here are the differences between the different brands:

Eonon: TN screen, no DSP, video-out from all sources all of the time
Xtons: TN screen, no DSP, video-out only from DVD/Aux
Hizpo: IPS screen, no DSP, video-out only from DVD/Aux (I believe)
AndroidAudioStore (Hizpo w/DSP): TN screen, DSP chip, video-out only from DVD/Aux (I believe)

At this point, I'm tempted to order the Hizpo and then return either it or the Eonon, depending on which one I like better.

I *really* hate returning items, but unfortunately, in this case, the only way I can see what I'm getting is to order it and return it if I don't like it.

Do you think it's "wrong" of me to order another unit (the Hizpo) knowing that I'm going to return it or the Eonon?

I just have a feeling that the IPS screen in the Hizpo will be significantly better than the TN screen in the Eonon...

Lots of good info.

Is it "wrong" to buy an item knowing that you may return it? Well, people do it all the time. I just bought an amp from Amazon that had obviously been bought before and returned. It was still like new and works perfectly, so I didn't really mind. But if it's okay for Amazon to sell an item as factory-fresh when it obviously isn't, how can it not be okay to buy something knowing you may return it?


On the other hand, Costco sells fresh-cut trees during the holidays. After New Year's, they get a bunch of them back with tinsel still hanging from them as "unwanted" returns. I think that's a little sketchy. And you should see all the big screen TV's that get returned after the Super Bowl!

Cheers!

T-

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Yeah, the problem is that it's not like I can go to Best Buy and actually look at the units in order to make an "informed" buying decision. I can only go by what is listed in the ads and what info I get on-line and from the manufacturers (which is not always accurate - and getting the info from the manufacturers is kind of like pulling teeth!!) - and without being able to touch/feel the unit and check out it's features first-hand like you can in a retail store, there is just no way to judge the quality of these things without actually buying them.

Like I said, I hate returning things, but for stuff like this where the quality level is questionable, I really have no other choice.

So I think I'm going to order the Hizpo via my Amazon Prime trial membership (it's "fulfilled" by Amazon and eligable for Primo shipping), spend a few days with it and then return one of them. I don't like doing it, but at least I handle them very "gently" and make sure they are returned in the exact same condition that I received them in (I never even took the "factory" screen protector off of the Eonon, for example) - I would make sure it looks just like it did when I received it if I do end up returning it.
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Wow. JT, thank you for doing this. I know you're doing it mostly for yourself but the fact that you go out and spend your own hard earned cash to put out these very detailed reviews for the rest of us is very much appreciated.


I am eagerly awaiting your next review of the android unit(Hizpo)
the next one will have DSP right? or will it only have a 9-band eq?

So, if you like the next android unit, you're going to replace your current Rosen unit?
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Trust me, it's my pleasure - I *love* messing with this kind of stuff! It's just dealing with the wife part that usually sucks. :-)

I did NOT order the unit with the DSP chip (that is the unit that is only available from China via AndroidAutoShop). The main reason is that it does not have an IPS screen - just the older "TN" screen with "bad" viewing angles, just like the Eonon that I already have. Since I'm running an external amp with DSP auto-tuning (the Kicker KEY180.4), I'm not as worried about the DSP chip as I am the screen. While I would like to have a "real" 15-band EQ (and the other adjustments the DSP chip offers), I'm just not sure it's worth giving up the better display (assuming the IPS screen is significantly better than the TN screens) - at least for me. Unfortunately, there is no unit with an IPS screen *and* the DSP chip as an option - at least not yet.

Absolutle worst case, I return the Eonon *and* the Hizpo and get the DSP chip model. But since I hate returning things, I don't see that happening unless the sound quality is just horrible once I get them installed in-car. But based on what I hear from the single Impala front door speaker the Eonon is connected to "on the bench", I don't think sound quality is going to be an issue - even with the "fake" 9-band EQ, it still seems to sound great. I still think the "fake" 9-band EQ is way better than regular bass/mid/treble (I probably would have never ever realized it wasn't a "real" 9-band EQ if I didn't read it somewhere - adjusting the sliders still seems like it does the same thing as a "real" EQ) - but I'll know more once i get it connected in the car.

I don't even have a Rosen installed anymore. About 5 or 6 months ago, I bought and installed the Dynavin N7 - a brand new WinCE-based plug-and-play unit. But it has issues that Dynavin cannot seem to fix and I'm not 100% happy with it - especially for what it costs ($699!). I've always wanted to try one of the Android head-units and based on what I'm seeing, I don't think I'll be going back to any of the WinCE units. The flexibility of these Android units has won me over already. It's a completely different experience - especially when you consider what they cost.

My wife just recently realized I bought the Eonon, just wait until she sees yet *another* head-unit coming in the mail on Thursday (I already ordered the Hizpo). :-) So if you no longer hear from me after Thursday, you'll know that she "took me out" after I bought yet *another* car radio. :-)

I must have 10+ head-units (Rosen/Advent/Dynavin/Eonon) in my "office" right now... I need to put some of these things up for sale!
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Also - I just want to mention that I don't recommend that anyone rush out and buy one of these Android head-units just yet. While I'm "gushing" over it "on the bench", I still have to see how it performs "in car". Things like screen readability due to glare, sound quality, how well GPS works in the real world, testing things like RAP, warning chimes, etc...

I do love the idea of a full blown version of Android in the car - but if the unit doesn't perform well in the "real world" it's all for nothing.

I *so* wish that there was a really high quality Android unit availble (IPS anti-glare screen, high-quality internals for audio, etc) from an American company. I hate the fact that I have to deal with Chinese companies instead of a US-based company. I wish they offered "high end" versions of these units...

Hizpo unit will be here tomorrow - will report back with my findings.
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How's this for a car launcher home screen? LOVE IT! You can also touch items to change them - like if I touch the clock, it will cycle between analog clock, digital clock, speedometer, etc (or whatever else I set it up to). If you touch the date, it will show the current address you are at. Every area is also a "hotspot" and you can have to change to whatever you want. :-) All FULLY customizable... This is the kind of stuff that makes an Android headunit awseome... Can change songs right from this screen as well (for wharever music app you want - or at least most of them).

This is the Car Launcher Pro launcher... Also has other "themes" built in, but this is the one i like... Not the greatest picture, but you get the idea. :-)

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That's one of the things that intrigues me about these units. You can literally customize everything on them!

The other thing that has me wanting to try it is the fact that I can use Google Play Music where I have almost my entire 70 Gig music collection uploaded so when I'm rolling around town, instead of using bluetooth I'll just stream all of my music directly from Google Play! Of course it'll require the use of my hotspot but like you, I have pretty much unlimited hotspot with my cell service.
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