The past several years have introduced many cutting-edge and grand technological advancements in the world of car audio. From complete iPod integration to Pandora interfaces, it seems like the car stereo has a solution for just about any type of audio source. If you take a look back a few years you will notice two great advancements that made connection of portable media possible: the auxiliary cable and the USB interface. The auxiliary input became a standard and quickly become popular. Any device with an audio source could then be listened to inside a car and throughout the car’s audio system. While this was a great breakthrough in terms of portable audio integration, the better was yet to come. Today we have USB ports on many of the car stereos and this opened an entire new world of audio integration.
So what can you use with an USB port on an in-dash car stereo? The technology was primarily driven by the consumers demand to have a iPod compatible Car Stereo. On the majority of units with a USB port, complete iPod/iPhone integration is made possible. Once connected, the user is able to have complete access to the iPod via the car stereo. That means you can hide the iPod in the glove box and still be able to play the music from it. But the technology doesn’t stop at Apple. USB interfaces also allow music to be played back from flash drives, thumb drives, SD cards (via USB-to-SD adapter), and even hard drives. Of course the stereo itself has to be able to read the files and formats in order for it to work properly, but this is becoming the standard for USB integration.
Another impressive features is the ability to connect a USB hub to a single USB port. Consider the Kenwood KIV-BT900. This single DIN unit has one rear USSB port. However, you can connect that port to a USB hub and that single port can turn into a 3 USB media center. Connect 2 thumb drives and an iPod and you are set for as much music as you could ever want. For those that have a “want it all” attitude, the new generation of USB capable car stereos are a must.