Android Car Stereo & Touchscreen Navigation Head Units

    Me and my partner use our phone as our go to computer in the car, mainly for navigational purposes and our little Panda only has a regular stereo where we can put CD's and listen to the radio. We thought we'd look in to some alternatives and see what was out there, boy did we not realise what we were diving in to.

    There is a whole world of android based head units, android car stereo options, fitted and not fitted tablet computers that can enhance your driving and journey time and we've spent the last 2 months finding out as much as we can, testing out some products and looking in to alternatives to your car stereo and replacement android devices.

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    What Did We Want Out of An Android Car Head Unit

    • Mapping - we certainly wanted to continue using mapping options such as Google or even offline based maps like maps.me.
    • Music - we wanted to be able to use stored music we have on our device, saved on a micro sd card or even connect to the internet or radio, half of these options would be great.

    Extra Features of an Android Car Stereo

    • Communication - If we could use hands free communication with voice control or talk to someone using the device, great.
    • Size - Would it fit in our car, either fitted or not, we don't want something too big. Although the Tesla cars use a portrait flat touch screen of about 15"
    • Ease of Install - We don't mind any DIY tasks and if it wasn't too hard we would think of fitting our own DIY android car stereo tablet system

    There are many many other things we could bring up, and we do, in the reviews of products below and in discussion with the technologies available just here, but we're trying to keep our 'needs' list pretty simple.

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    Types of Android Setups To Make Your Car Smart

    First things first, lets look at a quick summary of what you can get in your car right now, if it's android we'll bring it up and that also means, touch screen devices only and has to be the right size for most car fascias, which is approx 7-8" wide.

    Here we have a few different setup ideas and how to approach each one, whether you need something that you can get working within minutes or something you don't mind installing your self, we'll include it here.

    DIY Tablet Car Dash

    This is probably the most intricate way and long winded option to take if you want an android tablet device to run in your car. We found an amazing write up here which introduces the intracacies of this approach http://www.androidauthority.com/tablet-car-dash-install-631519/

    In the above tutorial on how-to fit a 7" tablet to your cars dash, they walk you through what tools you need, what you need to buy, as well as the tablet and even have images, videos showing you every step of the way. In total they suggest it will cost about £100 for everything, minus the tablet, but we have reviewed a couple below for around £70 which will more than do the job.

    If this isn't the approach for you, then move on, we have two other options and 5 devices below that we have reviewed that you can use today and have working in a matter of minutes.

    Pre-Built Android Based Dash Head Unit

    There are plenty of these out there on Amazon UK and if you don't know what they are, they are pre-fabbed tablets which are built in to a dash cage with all the wiring included. What you need to know is the size and space you have available to fit, 6", 7", 8" or 10" and then purchase one of the correct sized devices and fit in to your car.

    You get a touch screen device that is running on Android and should have all the necessary cabling. The advantage with this set up is that it should be more or less plug n play, again just make sure you get the right sized device for your cars dash.

    Here is a 7" version of this type of device.

    naviskauto car dash touchscreen tablet double din stereo

    If you are going to go through with an Android based double din stereo, a fitting kit might be needed for a inbuilt head unit and double din cage kits.

    We have reviewed a 10" Pumpkin Double Din Replacement Stereo and a 7" NaviskAuto Android Car Stereo. Both have their pros and cons and we go in to much more detail about them below too.

    Android Tablet As The Cars Computer

    Probably the easiest way to get in to any of this is to just buy or use a tablet you already own with a car tablet holder mount on your dashboard or windscreen window.

    tablet car dash android stereo navigation

     

    As you can see above, it's just utilising a tablet in your car. You need to use a strong car dash tablet holder and also a USB extension lead from a USB slot or a car cigarette lighter adapater. so you can continually power your tablet of choice.

    Once you have these 3 items, you'll be good to go.

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    What Can You Run On An Android Car Stereo & Navigation Device

    Anything you can run on your own phone, tablet that you already own, you can run on an Android tablet or the pre-built dash devices, like the Pumpkin and the NaviskAuto.

    Android Auto

    We have to mention Android Auto though first https://www.android.com/intl/en_uk/auto/ this can be installed on any of the devices we have mentioned, the DIY tablet build, or the pre-built android car stereos or just a normal 7" android tablet that you use with a car mount.

    More Android Auto basic info here www.androidcentral.com/android-auto-basics

    What Is Android Auto

    It's an app that you can use on any Android device later than 5.0 Lollipop which gives you a new home screen which evolves around the popular applications and features you may require whilst driving in your car. It will show distance, time info to your home, the weather, music player, etc

    The main navigation you get from this new home screen is navigation, calls, and music. From within each of these options it will show you apps that relate to these, eg, in the music menu choice, it will show you Pandora, Spotify or other apps you have installed that relate to music.

    Another great feature is the voice control you can use with Google, you can send texts to family without even pressing the screen or find your nearest petrol station or restaurant. It will then link to navigation using Android Auto Google Maps.

    Messaging In Android Auto

    If you receive a message whilst you are driving, it will override what you are looking at and show you that message or you can reply using voice commands with minimal input using your hands.

    Android Auto Display

    It uses a card display, one of the downsides of this is that every action you do comes up on the new home page it creates for you.

    If you are currently navigating to a destination and using the phone for something else, when a junction comes up, half of your screen will show what you are about to do at the next junction, it's bold, big and easy to see, and after a few seconds will disappear to what you were previously checking out.

    Android Car Stereo Apps for Music, Audio Books & More

    So you want to still play music or audio books on your device. We go through some of the best android audio book applications and android music player and radio apps to keep you entertained on your journeys.

    Online & Internet Streaming Music Applications

    Are you going to be connecting your device to the internet? Either via a sim or making your phone a wireless hot-spot? Here we have listed some great options for you to look at to play music via an online streaming service using your android car stereo.

    • Amazon Music - You can stream and download music from Amazon music it has over ten million songs, so you're bound to find what you are after. You can download the app and you'll get extra benefits of Amazon Prime compare to the likes of Google Play and Apple Music.
    • Google Music - Has over 35 million songs, another big catalogue, you can have music online and offline, so this can work well with an android car stereo. It's quite cheap at about £7 a month but for not much more you can have a  family of 6 each saving over 50,000 songs on their device offline or the full catalogue to stream online.
    • Spotify - Probably the most used in the UK, certainly amongst our friends and family. It costs £9.99 a month or for a family subscription of £14.99 a month for 6 people. They also have a free option which has ads and you won't be able to download any tracks for offline use.

    Offline & Downloaded Music Playing Apps

    Do you like and prefer to own your own catalogue? You can use some of the above services to download music and then use a different music player if you so wish, a couple we have checked out and like are:

    • BlackPlayer - A very simple free android app to play the music you own on your device. You can download here.
    • Media Monkey - We are huge advocates of Media Monkey! We have used the desktop application/program for years and it has one great advantage over the others here. If you take your device on to the same wifi connection as your desktop or laptop, where you might have your music library, you can sync and move music from one to the other.
    • Neutron Music Player - Probably the most sophisticated music player out there for Android, it wants to make your music sound better and if you have a great stereo system and want to get he most out of it, we recommend you have your music in flac file format and use this android app to play your music.

    Online Radio Music Apps

    • iHeartRadio - A huge catalogue of online radio stations for all tastes, if you are after a radio station to listen too rather than personally selecting the music, give this a try.
    • Internet Radio - Just what it says it is, internet based radio stations and even local FM stations which have gone online, free and paid version.

    Online and Offline Audio Book & Podcast Applications

    If you're more in to audio books, prefer listening to posdcasts about your favourite hobbies, there are plenty of apps to enhances your android based car stereo set up, some we enjoy using are:

    • Audiobook Player - if you have audiobooks on your device already, this will play audio offline and will do a good job at it.
    • Adventure Audio Book - Interested in adventure stories, all of the audio books here are in the adventure category and are public domain so all are free to download and play through this great app, perfect for long journeys or family car adventures.
    • Audio Books Free - 21,000 audio books for you to download for free, from speeches to stories and more.

    You can also just use a normal audio/music player app you already have and head to any of the free audio book download websites, put them on your device or sd card to transfer to your car head unit and you'll be good for hours. Here are a few websites you can download audiobooks for free.

    • Project Gutenberg - Oldest and biggest collection of audio books online and for free.
    • Digital Book
    • Mind Webs - SciFi based audio books
    • Open Culture - Learn whilst you listen to these educational audio books
    • Learn Out Loud - Again, another educational audio book website to download free audio books for your car journey
    • Story Nory - Stories for the younger audience, play audio books for children from your android car device.
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    What Other Benefits Are There To Using An Android Tablet In My Car

    There are plenty of benefits to using a smart device in your car instead of it's built in car stereo. Even if you have a touchscreen already, you probably can't use application you might want to or you might just hate the keyboard that comes with it and the user experience, if that is so, we'll look at the benefits of an android device and how it trumps most other choices.

    DIY Tablet Car Dash & Mounting A Tablet In A Holder Benefits

    There are very similar benefits to these two options, you can put anything you want on to these devices, you can choose any tablet you want, if you want something that will last a few years you can choose a very powerful tablet now and it will last for years to come. If you already know Android, then you will be fine accessing and using their interface.

    Another benefit of a mount held tablet, is you can pop it in and pop it out of your car with no trouble, if you want to use that in the evening, why not, you can do that. You can save locations and destinations on an offline map of your choice and then use it in the car the next day to navigate there.

    With newer cars, you can use bluetooth to connect your tablet to the cars stereo and play any music or audio books you want straight from the tablet and through the cars stereo. You will get a much better sound quality than listening through the tablet itself and if you install a tablet in to your dash, connecting it up to your cars speakers means you don't even need to use bluetooth, which is even better.

    Downsides To Using An Android Tablet In Your Car

    There are also downsides, if you build your own tablet in to your cars dash, once it has been fitted, it's not an easy process to get it out. If you want to put in a bigger SD card, you'd be better putting the biggest you can fit from the off, otherwise you would struggle to add more space. If you are just mounting a small tablet to the front of your cars dash you will have to keep on plugging it in to the USB power that comes from the cigarette lighter or via a usb socket in your car just to keep it powered.

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    What About Electric Vehicles

    Electric vehicles can benefit from using a tablet that has a good power supply and battery life, as you can unplug the device, so it wont pull power from your electric vehicle and you can use apps like https://www.zap-map.com/app/. Zap map has the biggest database of UK based electric plug in points for charging your car.

    Other apps include Renault Zoe range calculator http://appcrawlr.com/android/my-renault-zoe-range-predictor which means you can show what range you will get from a certain distance driven and there are many other applications specific to driving an electric car that only an android device could enhance and help with.

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    Other Things and Applications To Consider

    Is GPS available or not on the device you choose, here are a list of maps that you can use on your Android device.

    Online & Offline Maps for Android Navigation

    Other Android Car Related Apps

    • Waze is great for traffic updates, if you notice a problem on the road you can add your input too and update other drivers of what is happening
    • ReadItToMe lets you stay handsfree in your car, if you are driving a lot and what voice updates on texts and other important messages, this will help
    • Turn your tablet in to a dashcam, you can actually make use of your camera and use this app as a driving recording feature, the app is called CamOnRoad
    • Car diagnostics tools such as Torque, it's a bluetooth enabled car diagnostic tool that sits in your OBD2 connector and you connect to it using your phone.
    • GasBuddy helps you find the nearest and cheapest place to fill up with petrol in the UK and rest of world.
    • Alternatives to Android Auto include Drivemode and Car Dashdroid, both make it simpler to use a tablet device whilst driving and prioritise navigation, music, your comms with your phone.
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    There Are Other Android Based Navigational Options

    Such as the Easy SMX android navigation tablet and if you don't to install a tablet or buy an android stereo set up, we can recommend the Easy SMX or other tablets and a car dash or windscreen holder, you wont get the same functionality but its a cheaper option and you dont have the hassle of fitting anything either. In a nut shell, they are similar to a tablet, but they have been set up with navigation in mind and everything else comes second. So you can use it as an android device, it will just come with the Easy SMX home screen rather than the Android base.

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    Running A Tablet or Phone As Your Cars Computer

    We recommend keeping the android device to a minimum of apps and uses, this will keep it going faster for longer. We have a 10.1" we occassionaly use for really long drives and it only has a handful of apps installed and then all of our media sits within the sd card we have added.

    Keep them uncluttered, find what works for you and stick to it then when you're running these apps make sure that you are only running the ones you need, this goes for all android car stereo devices that we have mentioned in this guide. These devices, albeit powerful for their size have mostly entry level phones and tablet hardware which is a couple of years old now.

    And one last important point is that if you are using a tablet, you may need a protective sleeve for it to hide it away on an evening or to protect it when you are carrying it to and from your vehicle.

     

     

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    Comparison

    Why have we chosen the Lenovo as our number one android car stereo is simple, it's powerful enough, is a brand name you can recognise and we at TheCarStuff trust and it will do probably everything you will want of it. Yes, if you aren't wiring it in to your car you do miss out on some of the benefits that gives you but if you have Bluetooth you can connect to that to play music and navigation directions from the Lenovo tablet through yours cars speakers.

    It is a good price and you can move it from one car to another with ease and even use it at home. We love this little thing and with a good car tablet holder or mount, you'll be set for a few years with great navigation gps choices and all the music you could ever want to listen to.

    One of the things it does not do, which is connect to your cars aerial, means that you won't be able to get a radio station broadcast, out of the box. Unlike the Pumpkin, which we have ranked 2nd of our car android stereo replacements.

    You will need to check that it fits, after that, its a great device. It's sat on Android like the others so can have new applications added but the bonus of this device is that it is wired in to your car, you can play DVDs, its more of an entertainment system with the bonus and features of Android.

    Out of the other three devices, none of them are bad, we really enjoyed using them all, they are of varying sizes so hopefully one of them will fit your cars set up and your needs. The biggest let down was the Hauwei, it is on an older Android version, 4.4, Kitkat. This means that Android Auto would not work with it and a few other apps.

    The DJC and NaviskAuto can both use Android Auto and any other app you may want to download and are both powerful little devices, they aren't going to break any hardware or speed records but they don't need to. If you are after your first in car smart device, either of these will suffice.

    Especially if you want to go the DIY route, the DJC would be perfect, the 7" version is less than £70 brand new, has a great screen and would perfectly well in your cars dash as a replacement android stereo and navigation system.

    Lenovo Tab 2 8" Tablet for Car Navigation Device

    We are reviewing this Lenovo Tab 2 8" black tablet to see how well suited it would be as an in car android stereo, navigational tool and smart device.

    lenovo tab 2 8" black tablet for car smart device

     

    Technical Details
    Portable
    Yes
    Self Inflating
    No
    Fits 3 Door
    No
    Fits 5 Door
    No
    Rating
    4.7/5
    Price
    ££
    Cordless
    Yes
    Battery
    Yes
    Hand held
    Yes
    Warranty
    No
    Vehicle
    car
    suv
    truck
    van
    Brand
    Lenovo
    Number of seats
    0 seats
    Weight
    950 g
    Washable
    No
    Next Day Delivery
    No
    Maps
    World
    Lifetime maps
    Yes
    Map software
    maps.me
    Screen size
    8 inches

    Another IPS diasplayed  tablet, this time by Lenovo, so you should be sure that the screen you'll be looking at will be crisp and clear. Like the DJC it also has a 1200 x 800 pixel screen resolution so you are getting better than HD.

    The immediate bonus of this over the DJC though is the internal 16gb storage, so you have double what the DJC offers and this should be more than enough for the apps, maps you will need. We still suggest an SD card with all your favourite audio books and music on though as the 16GB can easily be filled up with audio files.

    You get your usual features, mic jack, microSD card slot, GPS, and even micro Sim card slot so you can plug in a sim and be connected all the time.

    lenovo tab 2 8" black tablet

     

    So you're interested in using a small tablet as your cars navigational tool and car stereo, this Lenovo might be perfect for fitting in to your cars dash and replacing your current car stereo entirely or by using a tablet holder connected to your dash or windscreen.

    We would rank this the same as the DJC and it's a very similar price too.

    Pros
    • Great screen resolution and IPS display
    • Fairs a little better than the DJC when direct sunlight is on it
    • Fast tablet with double the space storage as the DJC, with 16GB (more like 12GB once you've installed Android and other needed apps)
    • Good brand name
    Cons
    • There are a lot of Lenovo models so make sure when you order accessories that you order the screen protector, bag, etc for the exact model you have, just check in the box when you receive it.
    Verdict

    Another great little offer by Lenovo which we think would suit your cars needs easily. You can navigate in offline maps or even use the inbuilt GPS to use google maps or similar mapping applications.

    You can sync with bluetooth to your phone to make/receive calls and we really like it

    Pumpkin 10" Double Din Android Head Unit

    This is a review and look at the Pumpkin 10.1" Double Din Android Head Unit. It's 10" so for those cars with more space in the middle and powered by Android, just like the others we are reviewing. It's another plug and play type device which you should be able to fit in your car with minimal input.

    pumpkin double din head unit android touchscreen

     

    Technical Details
    Self Inflating
    No
    Fits 3 Door
    No
    Fits 5 Door
    No
    Rating
    4.6/5
    Price
    ££££
    Warranty
    Yes
    Warranty length
    18 Month
    Vehicle
    car
    suv
    truck
    van
    Brand
    Pumpkin
    Number of seats
    0 seats
    Weight
    3700 g
    Washable
    No
    Next Day Delivery
    Yes
    Maps
    World
    Lifetime maps
    Yes

    This is the Pumpkin 10.1" Android Car Interface, a device that you can push straight in to your cars head unit, replacing your current car stereo.

    Lets check out it's sepcification:

    It comes with Android 5.1, this is great as you can use Android Auto and any of the latest apps available on the Google Play/Marketplace. It is quad core but only has 1gb of ram like the NaviscAuto. Inbuilt memory of 16gb which isn't too bad but this can be extended with an sd card. The screen resolution isn't quite HD, with a 1024x600 pixel screen res. It's touch screen, had adjustable colour settings and you can tune in to UK radio stations as well.

    As well as it's specs, there are a few things that are inbuilt and these features seem to be mainstay on these devices and this is no different.

    Mirror-link you can watch what is on the Pumpkin device on your smart phones, either via wifi or usb mirror. With usb connection you can control the Pumpkin but on the wifi connection you can only watch what it is showing.
    GPS which is inbuilt, so you can use online maps like iGo, Google, Copilot, etc and it gives voice guidance, this also depends on the application you use for your maps as they all differ a little.
    AV Output means you can link to other displays or tablets that you can put on your headrests for the rear passengers, we didn't test this but it's a good feature if you have a family car.
    DVD player is inbuilt in this device, being 10" wide means it can use more technology and adding DVD is one of them.
    USB/SD storage so you can add your biggest collection of music, movies, audio books, extra maps and much more.
    DAB+ radio, as well as FM/AM, you can connect to your favourite digital radio station, like BBC Radio 6 in the UK which is digital only.
    OBD2 means that you don't need a car diagnostic tool, you can solve some errors using this device
    WIFI/3G support, as it's an android device means you can connect to local network or even wifi connections.
    Cam-In allows you to link a camera, for the front or rear of your car to help with parking

    pumpkin double din universal in dash android stereo

     

    There it is, the full 'plug n play' set up that you get when you purchase the device. Make sure you check the size of the available space in your cars head unit/dash area to make sure this fits. With the device you get instructions on how it all works and fits together.

    Review of Pumpkin 10.1" Android Head Unit

    So how does this all add up in reality? We tested it to see how it compared to the other android car stereo devices and how its features worked in the real world.

    Android Operating System

    We've said plenty about this, it has android 5.1 so is ready to download what you need. This device does have a few problems but having android more than makes up for them, if you have a problem or something doesn't work, there is generally an app that can resolve your problem.

    Comms & Microphone

    Again, we have found a problem with this and it's microphone being used for communicating. This device has an inbuilt microphone and a mic on a lead. Neither of them work very well, if you want to use the device with Google voice and command the head unit by voice, you will struggle.

    The same problems continue in to phone calls, you will be able to hear whom you are calling but you'll struggle to get your message across clearly. We talked to other mobile devices using this head unit and they basically struggled to hear us.

    Radio

    We had problems finding a working radio station, we did get it working every now and then but driving along gave bad reception so we didn't use this feature. We got around this by using an android radio and bbc android app which meant we could still access radio stations we liked.

    We didn't get the device for this reason though, we prefer our own music and audio books, we drive really long distances sometimes and audio books are the best for our journey types.

    Look & Styling

    It has a plasticy finish, unlike android tablets which don't have any real buttons, these car stereo replacements usually have a few physical buttons and it takes away from how they look and feel. It makes sense having them as you need to at least turn the device on and off but other than that everything else could be done using the touch screen, especially when you can configure android so much now. You could easily set up volume level or your favourite most used apps on the home page.

    Pros
    • Easy to fit and install, connects to other devices in your car, speakers, car controls etc
    • Doesn't cost too much compared to high-end devices
    • Comes with Android 5.1 so you can use the latest apps to do what you like
    • Navigation, music, this will do it
    • This device has a DVD player so if you still have a CD collection this will play your music and audio CD's
    • micro SD slot will enable you to enlarge storage space
    Cons
    • Plasticy, flimsy look and feel to it
    • Radio did not work too well out of the box, maybe it was the connection to the device as it worked fine before
    • Not the fastest hardware in the box
    • It does not support DAB functionality
    Verdict

    A good introduction, like the NavicsAuto to android car stereo replacements and for use with navigation and connecting your smart phone for extra features.

    Its price indicates it's not a high end digital accessory but it does do quite a lot, more than just a general radio stereo will do on your car.

    DJC Touchtab 6 8" Android Tablet for Car Navigation

    We're reviewing this sub £100 8" DJC Touchtab to see if it is suitable as a replacement for car navigation and as an android car stereo.

    djc touchtab tablet car navigation android

     

    Technical Details
    Portable
    Yes
    Self Inflating
    No
    Fits 3 Door
    No
    Fits 5 Door
    No
    Rating
    4.4/5
    Price
    ££
    Battery
    Yes
    Hand held
    Yes
    Warranty
    No
    Vehicle
    car
    suv
    truck
    van
    Brand
    DJC
    Number of seats
    0 seats
    Dimensions
    22 x 16.5 x 8.2 cm
    Weight
    699 g
    Washable
    No
    Next Day Delivery
    No
    Maps
    World
    Lifetime maps
    Yes
    Map software
    Google maps
    Screen size
    8 inches

    Two things that really impress us off the bat with this DJC Touchtab 8" tablet is that it has an IPS screen, they are simply the best you can get, the screens contrast will be better and everything on them looks better with their colour correction.

    The 2nd thing we are impressed with is that this tablet is 4G ready, now you may not want to put a sim in the tablet but if you ever do, you have the latest technology available at your hands and you can turn this offline android car navigation device in to an internet ready, more smarter car gps, music playing, tool. If you do wish to put a sim card in, you will require a full, normal size sim, not a micro, it takes two normal sized sim cards, so it's dual sim too.

    You also get GPS built in, which most devices do now as standard but this means that you can use any Android mapping software or app straight out of the box. We highly recommend Maps.me for it's offline mapping, just make sure you download the area and the maps you require using wifi before you set up in the car.

    djc touchtab 6 8" tablet car android navigation

     

    As well as the IPS display, the resolution is one of the best we have reviewed for an 8" tablet, 1200 x 800 pixels means that you are getting better than HD and it will make everything much clearer. This is great, especially if you are stopped off somewhere on the side of the road or a motorway services and you want to watch something or even do some work online, it just opens up more options to you with it's better display.

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    Using The DJC Touchtab 6 8" Tablet In Your Car

    This has been a great little tablet straight out of the box, but how would it work in your car, answering calls, playing music and navigating you on your latest adventure?

    We didn't install this tablet fully in to our car and replaced the original stereo unit. So we missed out on a few extras you would get from that, no sound to our car speakers, a wire would dangle from the tablet to the charger and a few other things but we still tested it we would have anyway.

    As soon as we put it in the car we noticed our first problem, luckily it wasn't one of many. It was a really bright day and we couldn't see the screen that well. We had put the brightness up, we tried everything and we couldn't really do much about it. It didn't end the testing though, the device was plugged in to the car charger and was sat in a secure tablet holder and we found as we drove, the light would move anyway and it was only for a few seconds at a time that we had the problem.

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    Does It Work As An Android Car Stereo

    It works very very well, even without the sim card and no data allowance, I could connect a sd card in to the side and improve the storage space from 8gb (actually 4gb) to 16gb, 32gb etc. This is more than enough for thousands of songs and what is even better are audio podcasts and audio books. Something you just can't do with a normal stereo, we downloaded a few in the home, put them on the SD card and then managed to play great podcasts and audio books whilst we were out driving. This is the real advantage of an Android device being the main hub of your car.

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    What About As An Android Car Navigational Tool

    We are fortunate that we are used to using Android devices, mainly phones as our go-to navigation tool when driving about and we've never had any real issues with Google Maps. With this tablet, because it's on Android 5.1 you can download Android Auto which will enhance your phones user experience just for driving, we have written more about it up top.

    As well as google maps, you can use maps.me which is actually our favourite, all round offline mapping software. It recently got a big improvement regards driving about and navigation on the roads in the last few months too. We write about many more up top too.

    The biggest problem with this android which we briefly mentioned above, is the storage space, it's another sub £100 tablet and we believe can be a really great android car device, but you will have to upgrade that microSD as soon as you purchase it. Then you can have more apps, more maps for your navigation and GPS and more music to play whilst driving about.

     

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    Pros
    • 4G ready and has GPS so you are good to go if you want to run the tablet both online or solely offline
    • Amazing better than HD screen, real good clarity and sharpness
    • Android 5.1 so you can use Android Auto and the latest apps on the Android market place
    Cons
    • Screen isn't too good with direct sunlight on it
    Verdict

    A great contender for use in your car as an android navigational tool and car stereo. Not a big brand name but the price does not reflect that and you get something which can do each of the things your car already can and more.

    NAVISKAUTO 7" Android Touch Screen Car Stereo in Dash

    This is a review and look in to the Naviskauto 7" touchscreen android car stereo and navigational tablet that you can fit in to your cars dash replacing your original stereo.

    naviskauto car dash touchscreen tablet double din stereo

     

    Technical Details
    Self Inflating
    No
    Fits 3 Door
    No
    Fits 5 Door
    No
    Rating
    4.3/5
    Price
    ££££
    Warranty
    No
    Vehicle
    car
    suv
    truck
    van
    Brand
    Naviskauto
    Number of seats
    0 seats
    Weight
    2300 g
    Washable
    No
    Next Day Delivery
    No
    Maps
    World
    Lifetime maps
    Yes
    Map software
    Google maps
    Screen size
    7 inches

    Here we are looking at an installed double din android touchscreen car stereo, woah thats a lot of words. It's basically an android tablet with a 7" screen that has been fitted on to a dash cage for you to install in to your car and connect up to your cars wiring. This means you can get audio through your speakers, check for errors with an OBD application amongst other things, much more than a regular car stereo.

    The beauty of this is, it is run on Android 5.1, so you can theoretically install any Android application you may want and use it in your car, be it an offline gps navigation app, like www.maps.me, or an audio player to listen to your favourite podcasts and audio books. You also don't lose out on the car stereo, you can download an app to play digital radio, because this will connect up to your aerial, so you can still listen to your fave station if you really want to, but at the same time still have your navigation working.

    naviskauto car dash android touchscreen tablet double din headset

     

    With the Naviskauto you get a 7" touchscreen with a couple of real buttons on the side, 5.1 Android Lollipop (not the latest but good enough for all applications still) and bluetooth. These three things alone open up a world of opportunities.

    You can get in to your car, sync your mobile phone via bluetooth which means you can make and receive calls, play music from your phone to your in car android dash head unit and much more.

    Android 5.1 Lollipop allows you to download Android Auto if you don't want to use the setup you get with Naviskauto as standard and any other application you may want to try. And it has a quad core CPU which means it should easily handle anything you throw at it.

    What Other Features Does It Come With

    • Connect your steering wheel controls to the device
    • Use a rear view camera to see what is going on behind you, this is with the optional extra of the rear view camera
    • Mirror what the head unit sees on to your mobile phone, this is great if you want to play a video or show something to those sat in the rear seats of the car
    • Comes with all cables to basically plug and play with most cars
    • Supports FM/AM radio
    • GPS both online and offline maps can be used, so you can use Google Maps with GPS or use offline maps like maps.me and head for pre-set and bookmarked destinations

    Review of the NaviskAuto 7" Touchscreen Android Car Dash

    As powerful as this thing is, the features it has are extensive, it doesn't do it all perfectly, we'll explain further here.

    Making Calls

    When testing we found that the microphone being used for calls was complete rubbish, first you have to place this somewhere in your car nearer to you the better. The problem we had is that our car isn't that quiet inside and when talking to people through the device it was both loud over the mic and the sound was not of good quality. We tested this both at standstill, without the engine running and whilst we were out driving in different driving conditions.

    If you wanted it for voice calling, we'd ask you to look elsewhere.

    Listening To Music, Podcasts and Audio Books

    The sound quality was pretty good, it sounded as good as our original stereo, if not better as we had some high quality songs played through the device and it worked well in our car. This goes the same for listening to FM/AM radio and audio books too. Also with the added bonus of being on Android you can download or use the inbuilt audio equaliser to make it sound better too.

    Using Android In Your Car

    This is the beauty of this device and why we have made this guide, you can use any number of applications to enhance your driving and enjoyment of your journeys and it's all in one device. Everyone knows Android and linking it with Android Auto, if you desire will create a simple user experience throughout the device, or just stick to the standard look that you get on the device.

    Hardware and Power

    This is it's second failing, we have another cheap chinese android tablet that we use around our home and that too has quad core processor and 1gb ram. It is perfect when using one or two apps, but as soon as you open more or you use GPS (Google Maps), Music and another app, it will slow down.

    What we recommend here is vigilence, you will need to learn, with most devices that simply opening them all, leaving them open and running isn't something that works on these small devices. As soon as you can get your head around managing that, you will be fine and you'll be able to navigate to somewhere whilst listening to music with no problems on this device.

    Maps & Navigation

    The Android marketplace is your oyster, you can use online and offline maps. We prefer Google Maps but iGo and copilot are also good offerings and one offline maps like maps.me. You can't go far wrong with one of each and with the offlien maps you can save areas you want to go to or have been before and with the online maps just use it for small journeys to places you probably wont visit again or even get traffic updates.

    Pros
    • Touchscreen
    • Android 5.1 which means all apps should work including Android Auto
    • A lot of inbuilt features and plugging it all in to your car by installing it in to your dash will open up even more
    • Not too hard to install in your car
    Cons
    • Wish it was more powerful, 2gb ram would have been perfect but it just handles a couple of apps being used at the same time
    • Voice calls over the mic are poor for the person receiving the call
    • Google play can stop working every now and then, but this is only when you are trying to install new apps
    Verdict

    A very good intro in to android dash head unit as an android car stereo and navigational device. If you want to use it specifically for calls, hands free, you may have trouble on the line and people understanding what you are saying. If you want to use it for a number of apps at the same time, such as navigation and music, it will just handle this.

    Huawei 7" Mediapad Tablet for Android Car Stereo

    This is a review of a Huawei 7inch Mediapad Tablet to be used as an android car stereo. It's a not so expensive but still powerful tablet that you could DIY your own android car stereo head unit with.

    huawei mediapad 7 inch android tablet car stereo

     

    Technical Details
    Portable
    Yes
    Self Inflating
    No
    Fits 3 Door
    No
    Fits 5 Door
    No
    Rating
    4.2/5
    Price
    ££
    Cordless
    Yes
    Runtime
    -1 minutes
    Battery
    Yes
    Hand held
    Yes
    Warranty
    Yes
    Warranty length
    2 Years
    Vehicle
    car
    suv
    truck
    van
    Brand
    Huawei
    Number of seats
    0 seats
    Dimensions
    10.7 x 107 x 19.2 cm
    Weight
    1 g
    Washable
    No
    Next Day Delivery
    No
    Maps
    UK & Ireland
    UK & Ireland & Full Europe
    UK & Ireland & West Europe
    World
    Lifetime maps
    Yes
    Map software
    maps.me
    Screen size
    7 inches

    This Huawei MediaPad gets good reviews all round, but is it a good enough Android tablet for a DIY android car stereo?

    It costs less than £100 for a branded Android tablet, which is a good start, you can find them cheaper but if you are going to use it in your cars display as a replacement for your current car radio, you may not want to spend too much.

    A couple of downsides we have noticed are that it isn't light, compared to it's size, we own a 10" tablet that weighs just under 500g so this is pretty hefty but this is not a problem if you are going to use it for your cars stereo and navigational purposes. Once it's fitted in, you won't have any problems with this at all as all you will be seeing is the screen,

    As well as it's weight, it only comes with Android 4.4 KitKat, which is a bit of a problem if you are specifically wanting to use Android Auto, this is an app but turns most of your features that you would use in a car, navigation, phone, audio etc in to a more user friendly experience, you won't be able to utilise this with this tablet.

    huawei mediapad 7 inch tablet car stereo android

     

    Once installed as an android stereo and navigation system, the Huawei has one major benefit over most other android tablets we have tested and reviewed specifically to be used as a multi smart device in your car, that is, it's screen.

    If you get the 8inch Huawei Mediapad you get an amazing view from anywhere you look, left, right, up down, doesn't matter what angle you are at, you should be able to see the screen. So if you have a big car and the android is set off slightly away from the middle, away from the drivers seat, you should easily still be able to see what is on screen, even in bright conditions.

    This is only for the 8" version of the tablet, you must check what size will fit first before looking in to purchasing an Android tablet as your cars stereo.

    Pros
    • Android interface, so you have that look and feel you know
    • Can use it to install many different apps, from mapping and navigation through to audio and music
    • You can sync your phone via bluetooth to the tablet
    Cons
    • Doesn't use one of the latest Androids, uses 4.4 Kitkat so some apps may not work
    Verdict

    A great option to have for making your own car stereo unit with an android tablet. It costs less than £100, the screen on the 8inch tablet is incredible and even though it's heavy, which you won't ever have to worry about feels great to touch and will give you many many more options over a none android, normal car stereo option.

     

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can You Play Music Whilst Using The GPS Navigation

    Yes, you can, on all android devices, you can have Google Maps in use at the same time as using a browser based music player or your own music player app running.

    Does It Fit My Car Fascia

    You will have to measure your cars dash space once you remove your original stereo. We have included 7-8" width android devices here as either one of these should fit.

    Do They Come With Offline Maps on the SD Card

    Some do and some don't, for instance, the already built together double din car dash stereo has space for maps and some come with maps. The other tablet, touchscreen devices do not, but you can utilise something like www.maps.me and store the maps on your actual device.

    Can I Clear Engine and Other Error Codes With OBD2 And Tablet Stereo

    You can use an OBD Car Diagnostic android application on the installed double din android car stereos as long as they have Android installed on them https://play.google.com/store/search?q=obd%20car%20diagnostics&c=apps&hl=en_GB Which means you can clear codes and check for problems related to your car, but you have to have the device fitted in to your car using Double Din cable/technology.

    Can I Connect My Phone via Bluetooth

    As long as the device has bluetooth, then yes, then you can sync music from your phone or take calls and much more.

    Can't I Just Use My Phone

    Yes you can, nothing is stopping you, but your phone is your phone, if you are thinking of getting a GPS navigation device, like a Garmin or TomTom, we highly recommend looking in to these options too. You can get TomTom specific maps on Android market and a tablet device will always be much more than a navigation device as well.