Well it’s been 8 months already using this unit so maybe it’s time to say a bit on what it’s been like to live with.
Overall it’s been a good investment. It’s done everything it’s promised so far with few complaints.
So what have been the positives?
The sound quality is good and it has enough volume for all situations.
It runs Android apps great although there’s really only a couple I use on the move.
The interface is fine and fluid with no lag.
It looks cool with its blue back-lit buttons.
It starts up pretty quickly and I like having the Nissan logo displayed while it’s booting.
Integration with the buses steering wheel controls is a great feature.
Here are the negatives then…
Often poor radio reception.
The buttons sometimes seem to take a couple of presses to register.
Can’t enable Mock locations in Android so I can’t use my external GPS receiver.
Technical support is pretty poor with them just quoting the manual, or saying x is not supported in this version.
It’s lost paired Bluetooth devices a couple of times.
Only DVD can output to external devices and not movies played from SD etc.
Final thoughts: I would buy one again as this one is fine for what I need and they will only improve with newer versions of Android. It’s a shame the external outputs are only for DVD (actually they also output what is coming into the input but the sound is only sent to the rear speakers for the latter). Not being able to use an external GPS receiver is my biggest gripe.
When I bought the bus the Navigation DVD was in the drive and it was just a bit annoying the way Navigation automatically started when the key was turned. Not only is the disc from 2003 but it only covers Japan. Everything is in Japanese and only of any use if you’re driving in Japan, which I’m not. The disc has been in the glove box for the last six months.
I just fancied popping the disc in today and have a bit of a play.
A red triangle appeared just off the coast of somewhere in Japan but I haven’t got a clue which part of the country it was thanks to the Japanese labels. It did rotate as I drove though. So that’s not very interesting.
Wait…I just saw a route finish marker across the map, and further in the distance another marker that could be Home or Start. Could these be set for the last trip the bus made before leaving Japan? Maybe it’s when it travelled to Nagoya to the auction?
When I got home I loaded up Google Maps on my phone and worked out how to move the map around on the Navigation screen. Rotating the map to North I realised that both Start and Finish were in Toyama Prefecture. I knew from the bus’s Japanese registration plates that it was registered in Toyama. I wondered then if this was the owner’s last trip in it, maybe to go and pick up a nice new motor the Elgrand would be taken in part exchange for? So many questions!
Zooming in on the Finish marker showed that the destination was a car dealership called ‘Gulliver’, just off the Etchu-Higashi Highway.
All I know about the current ICE is that it’s still got the original CD/MD/Radio it came from the factory with:
It doesn’t have the Bose option, so no tasty sub-woofer in the rear floor. As a consolation prize though it does have a plastic floor protector.
My plan as it stands now will be to add the ability to play DVDs on the roof mounted screen in the back by swapping out the head unit for a nice new Android powered double DIN unit. This will also allow audio to be played from phones over Bluetooth or from USB/SD. Of course, this is only a plan and it might have to change once I can physically look at the setup when I get the car. I’ve got no plans to change the speakers unless they’re starting to fall apart.
The head unit I’m thinking about getting is this Pumpkin 6.95 inch touchscreen unit running Android 4.4.
For the price it seems to be almost perfect (the only drawbacks I see so far is that only DVD can be output to Video Out, not a video being played from USB/SD/Internet, and that it doesn’t have DAB radio).
I’m interested to see what’s possible with the built-in OBD functionality.
I’ve never owned a vehicle that’s had any sort of camera built in before so the thought of getting an Elgrand with a factory fitted reversing camera really appeals to me. In fact I like the idea so much that I want to add more cameras.
The Elgrand I’ve bought (that’s currently on it’s way to Malta) is a phase 1 E51 which means that it was probably only a year away from getting a facelift when it was built, the facelift included a ‘blind side’ camera fitted in the bottom of the nearside wing mirror. This is a bit disappointing but never mind…I think I have options.
Although I can’t check if this is physically possible yet I’ve gone with my hunch that it should, in my head, be possible to mount an after-market camera in each wing mirror. I’m hoping there will be clearance inside for these rather small cameras (below) to be fitted without fouling the motor/carriage mechanism.
The cameras I went for are pretty cheap from eBay and are wide-angle colour cameras with the added bonus of being reversing/back-up or front-facing cameras. There are a couple of wires that change the view to have the guide lines or not, and reverse the image, or not.
They’re cheap enough that I won’t be too disappointed if they don’t last for ever. They’re also waterproof.
They look like they have quite a large angle of adjustment, but in reality the cable coming out of the back of the camera restricts the movement so it’s not possible to angle the camera as far as you’d expect. Quite a sneaky selling trick. I intend to have them angled only slightly so this isn’t an issue.
Three cameras, one input..
Having three cameras then poses the problem of how to display three images on a screen with one camera input. Does that mean I’ll have to put in switches to select which camera to display, or is there some clever device to do it automagically?
As you’d expect, there’s a gadget somewhere that can do what you want and I found this one on the AliExpress auction site. It’s a small box with four camera inputs that can automatically detect how many cameras are connected and mix the video in many different ways, outputting it to a single screen (and/or DVR if you wanted to record the feed constantly).
It also has ‘trigger’ inputs to turn individual cameras on when required. The example they give is using the left indicator to turn the left camera on for 5 to 10 seconds, with the indicator flasher keeping it on until a few seconds after the indicator is cancelled. The reversing camera will have a trigger from the reversing light circuit to turn it on.
It comes with all the cables needed to hook it up to typical vehicle cameras and a monitor/DVD and includes a push button switch to change modes (the unit remembers the last selected mode across power cycles apparently) or to turn the cameras on when driving. It also has an in-line fuse on the power lead which is a nice touch.
It works with PAL or NTSC cameras, but they must all be the same standard.
This one took 13 days to arrive and escaped import duty by having a $20 value printed on it (when I bought it it was selling at £42.90 with free delivery).
I’m very keen to get it connected up to the cameras and front screen (to confirm it’s all working OK before fitting it) as soon as the van arrives. If this works as expected I’ll buy another camera to mount on the front pointing down so I can see the front bumper when parking.