Alternatives to Microsoft Sync Car Audio and Communications System

My wife and I are inching closer and closer to settling on a used car...current front-runners are Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion.

Being that we're going used, the trick is getting the stars to align and finding one with good mileage, the engine package we want, and at a decent price...and that's without considering one of the few "toys" that I'd actually really like for the vehicle to have: built-in, set-it-and-forget it Bluetooth for my wife to use. I really want to get her to the point where she doesn't have to fumble with the phone while driving to make/receive calls and listen to music, or at the very least, doesn't have to hold it to her ear for calls. I've bought Bluetooth earpieces for her They all are either a little too much fuss to use, are too uncomfortable, get lost in the car or all three. I'd like something that allows her to plug her iPhone in when she gets in the car, and the technology takes care of the rest.

So, the Microsoft Sync sounds really great, and Altima has a Bluetooth option...and of course, both vehicles have packages that include a USB port for using and charging the iPhone/iPod. But like I say, it's beginning to look like we're not going to find a car that hits all the "important" notes that also has these options. So, I'm casting about for aftermarket solutions.

I'm skeptical that either of them will allow for a full replacement of the audio system...both stereos seem to be too well-integrated into the aesthetics of the console for that. I don't know, though...I know very little about car audio, so maybe the industry has overcome that hurdle by now. We stopped by Best Buy yesterday to ask about this, but the car electronics staff was out. Doubt we'll have time to go back today, nor do I think we'll get a chance to go by a dedicated custom audio place.

One option we did see on the shelf that seems interesting is the Parrot i9200. Looks like it can be "installed" in the car using a harness to the back of the existing audio (as opposed to running an auxiliary cable to the aux in jack), would give her a visual display of caller/track info, and a controller to manipulate it all.

Anyone had any experience with that unit, or have any alternate suggestions? Since we're sort of considering this to be part of the expense of buying the car...I don't want to say money is no object, but we are willing to shell out a few hundred, if that's what it takes.

I don't really have any suggestions. But I am interested to hear what you end up doing.

Hmm, I'm not sure any of us have any particular expertise in this area. Plus, "Ghetto Sync" makes it sound like a backup solution, so you may not be pulling the eyes in that you want.

If you retitle it so that it's obviously about car audio, Bluetooth, and iPods, and still don't get any useful responses, you might try checking car forums.

You could also check with Ford for how much it would cost to retrofit Sync to a Fusion that doesn't have it.

Thanks for the suggestion, Malor...title changed!

You might even want to get more specific, perhaps adding "in car audio" or something like that. Even "Microsoft Sync" sounds like, say, SyncToy or some other backup utility.

There. Good enough for you now, Mr. Bossy-boots?

LOL! If you don't get a useful response to that, I don't think the knowledge exists in the GWJ crowd.

I have been on a similar quest.

I want a bluetooth receiver in the car that connects to my phone and allows me to make\answer calls, and stream pandora or mp3s to the car stereo.

The parrot stuff is the closest I've found to being able to do it, but they all had a high cost of entry and too "fiddly" an installation. I just want something that'll connect to the aux input of my center console and look pretty unobtrusive.

I haven't found anything like it. I had an approximation with a solar-powered-charging bluetooth speakerphone and a kensington iphone kit, but there were too many components, and the solar-charger was clearly not rated for South Carolina summer car interiors... the battery swelled dangerously.

What I don't understand, though, is why this space in the market isn't being serviced. It seems to me that this is something people would really like to have, but no one is making it.

Depending on the year its possible that both used cars will stream Bluetooth Audio.. in general around 2008-2009 Cars starting having that option for the bluetooth connection to your phone/pmd. But you need to check to be sure.. I've for sure rented Altima's and Fusion's that did Bluetooth streaming.

My 2007 Infiniti G35x did not.. they added it to the 2008 and above models (go figure) my 2011 VW Tiguan does. My girlfriends 2008 BMW 328xi does not... I believe the 2009 and up models do.

Additionally as well many newer cars have a full iOS cable control to directly plug your iOS device into a cable that hardwires somewhere in the car and allows you full dash control of your device (skipping tracks etc..)

Nevermind cross posted web pages.

Filthy skimmer here, but have you looked at any Mazda 3's? They have some nice BT syncing for phone/music; unfortunately without all the bells and whistles of Ford's Sync. Not sure when they started putting BT in, mine is a 2011 and my friend's 2010 has it (same generation), don't know when our generation started.

My 2008 Toyota, by the way, will do calls over Bluetooth on the car audio system, but doesn't seem to support music streaming at all. I have to do that with the aux input jack.

Fortunately, the CD changer supports MP3, so I just burned a bunch of tracks to disk instead.

Update: car's bought--Altima won, and it just has the basic stereo, not even steering wheel controls. So, the search is on for an aftermarket solution. Looking pretty heavily at the Kenwood Excelon KDC-X995 or the Kenwood KDC-BT948HD. Any thoughts? Since I only look at them maybe once every 10 or 15 years, I'm even more clueless about head units than I am about most things. For instance, it's only since I started looking last night that I learned they are referred to as "head units."

Pretty stupid name, innit? They don't dispense any.

I think you may need to ask on car forums. You could also ask in the Car Lover's thread in Everything Else. Car geeks tend not to hang out here that I've seen, they leave it to us pasty computer nerds.

Behold, the winner:

JVC Arsenal KW-ADV794


We got a really good deal on the car itself, so we decided we could splurge a little on the stereo! Not paying nearly the listed price, though.

Another rationalization reason for getting it is that it should be a lot easier for my wife to control while driving...nice, big buttons on that touchscreen that shouldn't take her attention off the road any more than steering wheel controls, and certainly better than dealing with a single-din head unit (lookit how I know all the terminology now!) scroll wheel. It goes in on Monday or Tuesday.

Just have to make her swear a blood oath she won't play movies while driving by herself...