Music Player Tech Checklist for Car Shoppers

Music Player Features To Look for When Buying a New Car


Review the owner's manual to find out if your device is compatible.

Starting Out: Music Player Connection and Interface

How does music player connect to the car?
Aux-in jack
USB port
Proprietary plug

How do you access music player content?
Dedicated button
Multifunction button that toggles through various audio sources

How do you control music player functions?
Center console/dashboard buttons and switches
Steering-wheel controls
Voice recognition
A combination of the above

Does the system allow you to:
Quickly and easily access content on the device?
Minimize the time your eyes are off the road and your hands are off the wheel?
Quickly get to the most often used controls/features?
If the system has voice recognition, is it accurate?

Features To Look for

Which menu items are available?

Does the system pause/start audiobooks or podcasts at the same place after the car's engine is turned off? After a connected device is unplugged and then plugged in again?

Does the head unit correctly identify tracks by providing info such as artist, song and album?

Does the system display album art?

Is it easy to quickly scroll through a menu category that contains hundreds of items?

Is music information displayed so it's easy to read while driving and in all types of lighting?

Does the system offer Bluetooth audio for wireless music streaming?

Can the vehicle play music files on a USB "thumb" drive? If so, which of these formats are compatible?

Is it easy to access music on the USB drive and is the same artist/album/song menu format used?

See the related articles in the Car Technology 101 series.

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