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I've been doing some research to find the best way to connect my 'Pod to my new RAV4 Sport, and I wanted to share the results with everyone. Please feel free to add to this list, especially if you have first-hand experience with any products that you found useful.

In no particular order, here are the iPod connection methods I've found.

1) Aux port: You have two options here:
A. The simplest and easiest way to connect your iPod to the stereo is using a standard miniplug-miniplug cable from the headphone jack to the aux port.
PROS: Very easy and inexpensive(~$3).
CONS: Sound quality out of headphone jack is not the best you can get, no control through stereo buttons, doesn't charge battery (additional charger necessary for that).
B. A combo charger/audio out unit, like the Belkin auto kit. This gets sound from the dock connector, which is cleaner than through the headphone jack, and has an audio out on the base, so you can plug in a miniplug-miniplug cable from there. It also charges the iPod, and you only have one cable coming out of the iPod.
PROS: Cleaner installation, better sound, charges iPod
CONS: Somewhat more expensive (~$40), no control through stereo buttons.

2. FM transmitter ($25-$60): Plugs into iPod, broadcasts completely wirelessly.
PROS: no wires
CONS: Lousy sound (FM quality), especially in a large city (ie, NYC). Hassle to set up and find relatively empty frequency.

3.Neo iON ($190): Installed unit with single cable charges iPod and gets audio out of dock connector. Allows control through factory stereo buttons.
PROS: Clean sound, clean install, allows stereo control. You can stash the iPod anywhere in the car.
CONS: While iPod's screen will display artist/track information, the factory stereo WILL NOT. You need to use the iPod to change artists, playlists, etc.

4. Toyota iPod Interface ($110): Similar to Neo iOn, but with support for up to 5 playlists through factory stereo buttons.

5. VAIS SoundLinq SLI ($300): Specific solution for Toyota/Lexus stereos. Integrates iPod fully into factory sound system. Emulates MP3 CD changer, but keeps in-dash CD changer functionality intact.
PROS: Supports factory stereo buttons, clean install, clean sound, track/artist information displayed on factory stereo LCD screen (even though RAV4 screen is only 1 line LCD). Gives you an additional AUX port without taking up the existing one
CONS: Pricey.

6. New Head unit: The sky is the limit here. If you get the Toyota Japan double DIN faceplate, you can put any stereo in the RAV4, including options with 7" touchscreen DVD players with Navigation, iPod support, satellite radio support, etc.
PROS: Get everything you want from your stereo
CONS: Pricey, loss of the "clean" factory stereo look, possible lack of support for steering wheel buttons.

Personally, I am currently using option 1b, the Belkin unit, but it is only a temporary solution. I am leaning towards going for the SoundLinq unit, as I want to control the tracks through the steering wheel buttons and head unit, and don't want to put in a new head unit and faceplate. I am holding off for now, however, because I heard that SoundLinq is coming out with a unit that will allow BOTH iPod and satellite radio integration (meaning you can see sat radio track and channel info on the RAV's LCD screen, and can change channels through factory buttons on head unit and steering wheel. Currently they have a unit like that for XM, but supposedly a combo iPod/XM unit is in the works).

Again, feel free to add to this list! Hope that it helps anyone who is as confused as I am as to the best way to integrate your iPod.
 
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This is nicely done, thanks. A few things:

Option 1B: I would recommend a product made by Ten Technology called Flexi-dock. This would give you exactly the functionality of the belkin but also help with a flexible docking solution.

Option 5 sounds intruiging, I will look into this but does the text scroll on the LCD? I think I remember someone saying that you had to actually HOLD the text button on the head unit to see the entire entry scroll.

And a question regarding option 4. Does the Toyata solution actually take away your in dash CD changer? Or will it allow you to continue to use that just like option 5.

Thanks again-

John
 
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packpackpack said:
Option 5 sounds intruiging, I will look into this but does the text scroll on the LCD? I think I remember someone saying that you had to actually HOLD the text button on the head unit to see the entire entry scroll.

And a question regarding option 4. Does the Toyata solution actually take away your in dash CD changer? Or will it allow you to continue to use that just like option 5.
You may be correct about the scrolling issue. I haven't heard anything about it. But my songs aren't so long (titled) that it wouldn't fit all the way. Not an issue for me.

As far as I know, the "CD changer" emulators do allow you to use your in-dash changer, but may disable a seperate changer.

--DT
 
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DTphonehome said:
You may be correct about the scrolling issue. I haven't heard anything about it. But my songs aren't so long (titled) that it wouldn't fit all the way. Not an issue for me.

As far as I know, the "CD changer" emulators do allow you to use your in-dash changer, but may disable a seperate changer.

--DT
Also, I downloaded the Soundlync user manual from their website and the RAV4 appears to have 'No' selected under 'Text available' in the chart. Better research before buying.
 
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Another option is the Harmon Kardon Drive + Play. This is what I am getting (once I can replace the factory head unit). It can be installed in the console box via the Aux port and DC outlet. Or, it can be connected via wired or wireless FM Modulator. It comes with a knob that works almost exactly like the iPod wheel and a screen that is ismilar to the B&W screens on the earlier iPods. BTW, the only reason I am waiting until I replace the head unit is that I want the control box to sit behind the head unit. It does not appear that this is possible with the factory stereo.
 
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packpackpack said:
DTphonehome said:
Also, I downloaded the Soundlync user manual from their website and the RAV4 appears to have 'No' selected under 'Text available' in the chart. Better research before buying.
I emailed them and they told me it IS supported, and it will act as a MP3 cd changer.
 
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super_s said:
Good one! I can't believe I forgot about that one! My gripe with the Drive + Play is that extra screen and controller. While it makes it easy to conotrol the iPod, it clutters up the dash, and that's something I'm trying to avoid.

Thanks for pointing that out!
 

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I just bought a solution similar to the NeoIon from Crutchfield. Can't remember the name, but it cost only $130. Does the same thing and has a second input for an aux. source. Should be clean sound with steering wheel controls. I say 'should' cause the first unit I ordered didn't work right. I have the replacement, but haven't got around to installing it.

Crutchfield's tech suppor tis awesome. The rep helped me diagnose it at 11pm on a Saturday night! They shipped out a replacement the following Monday.

I'll report on how well it works once i get back into installation mode.

By the way, the radio cover is very easy to take off. Stereo is pretty easy to remove as well.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
I am admittedly ignorant on this topic, but I did see at least three products at circuitcity.com that aren't listed here. Just searched on "ipod car" at their website. Maybe they are trash, but I at least wanted to let you know. Good luck.
 
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DTphonehome said:
6. New Head unit: The sky is the limit here. If you get the Toyota Japan double DIN faceplate, you can put any stereo in the RAV4, including options with 7" touchscreen DVD players with Navigation, iPod support, satellite radio support, etc.
PROS: Get everything you want from your stereo
CONS: Pricey, loss of the "clean" factory stereo look, possible lack of support for steering wheel buttons.
This is the route I took, and I couldn't be happier. That being said, "pricey" is an understatement. I actually work in car audio, and even with my discount (which saved me close to half), I spent about $1600. I went with the Eclipse AVN-6600 (navigation and DVD), iPod adapter, and Kicker 6 1/2" component and coaxial speakers.

The speakers could have been avoided if I didn't have the JBL system. With the JBL, I could bypass the amp, but the crossover for the components is inside the amp, causing me to lose their full range. A shame, too, because they're the best factory speakers I've come across in quite a while.

Two things: the factory radio in the JBL system is, despite the name on the front, made by Fujitsu-Ten (Eclipse), so the steering wheel controls will plug directly into an Eclipse Radio. Also, with a double-din radio and the OEM dash kit, aftermarket looks stock.

Oh, and before I put in the 6600, I used option 1A. I'd just bring in my iPod at night and charge it then.
 
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BiffSlamkovich said:
Two things: the factory radio in the JBL system is, despite the name on the front, made by Fujitsu-Ten (Eclipse), so the steering wheel controls will plug directly into an Eclipse Radio. Also, with a double-din radio and the OEM dash kit, aftermarket looks stock.
So how do they work with the Eclipse? Just as they do on the stock head unit?

Also, I have the JBL sound, but if I replaced the head unit, I wouldn't want to touch the speakers or amp. Can I do that, or does it all have to come out? If I could just replace the head unit itself, and maintain steering wheel controls, I may well do it.
 
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DTphonehome said:
So how do they work with the Eclipse? Just as they do on the stock head unit?

Also, I have the JBL sound, but if I replaced the head unit, I wouldn't want to touch the speakers or amp. Can I do that, or does it all have to come out? If I could just replace the head unit itself, and maintain steering wheel controls, I may well do it.
They work exactly the same as factory. Mode switches source.

As far as the speakers, either way you will have to run new speaker wire back to the amp and bypass it (the amp is in the passenger-side rear panel, just before the jack). Also, the component speakers (the fronts) are crossed over inside of the amp, SO, to have both tweeter and woofer work, you'd have to wire them together in series.

My main concern was that they would blow prematurely (particularly the components, the rears would probably be fine), so I just changed them out while I was at it already.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
Mini-plug

I know this probably sounds like a dumb question but I have no idea what a mini-plug is or where to purchase one. THe first post said that they are very inexpensive and I would like to get one for my new rav4. Could anyone let me know where to get one. Thanks very much!
 

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Re: Mini-plug

71606 said:
I know this probably sounds like a dumb question but I have no idea what a mini-plug is or where to purchase one. THe first post said that they are very inexpensive and I would like to get one for my new rav4. Could anyone let me know where to get one. Thanks very much!
Radio Shack or WalMart (Electronics section). Here's a pic of a mini-plug:

 
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Discussion Starter #15
This is a great summary of the options available, and I'm glad to see so many folks adding to it with their ideas and additional options. There's some great info in this topic.

The Harman Drive + Play is an awesome thing. I don't have a problem with the display for it being on my dashboard for appearance reasons. But I do know that it will serve as an eye-catcher for thieves. I doubt that I could go for more than 6 months in an urban area without having the car broken into.
 
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chrishart1 said:
This is a great summary of the options available, and I'm glad to see so many folks adding to it with their ideas and additional options. There's some great info in this topic.

The Harman Drive + Play is an awesome thing. I don't have a problem with the display for it being on my dashboard for appearance reasons. But I do know that it will serve as an eye-catcher for thieves. I doubt that I could go for more than 6 months in an urban area without having the car broken into.
Thus far, I have gone a month in NYC (an urban area I believe) with no problems.
 
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And I hope you never have your car broken into!

It's just that the display on the dashboard would certainly catch my eye, if I was a thief.
 
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I just ordered a Monster Ultra-Low Profile iPod iCharger from Amazon for $26.75. It seems to have gotten great reviews at Amazon, and the price is right. I like the fact that the audio quality is excellent, and that both the charger cable and the miniplug cable will both come out of the same end of the iPod. I can't wait to get my car; it should be here in 2 weeks.
 
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Another option?

I just picked up my 2007 Rav4. I noticed on the lower left side of the dash, to the left of the steering wheel, is a small recess for change (I presume). It seems like it would also be a perfect location for a dock connection with the iPod standing erect. Has anyone tried this?

I assume this would have to be done by an installer who is reasonably talented. It would require cutting a hole in that recess and mouting the dock connector. Probably, also, the power would be hard-wired without using one of he 12v adapters. The aux in cable would then be treaded from underneath into the aux-in connection.

Does this sound possible? Any thoughts?

- Mike in Chicago
 
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Re: Another option?

ChgoMike said:
I just picked up my 2007 Rav4. I noticed on the lower left side of the dash, to the left of the steering wheel, is a small recess for change (I presume). It seems like it would also be a perfect location for a dock connection with the iPod standing erect. Has anyone tried this?
...

Does this sound possible? Any thoughts?
Mike, the first bump you hit will send your iPod flying. Good thinking though! I thought the 2007 had an iPod integration option? Am I wrong?
 
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