JOYING double din android 6 Car stereo... is it worth it?
I finally gave up and bought one. Mostly because commercial mid to high end car stereos from the big guys are starting to get annoying. I have the top of the line JVC and it nags you every time you start the car, it's extremely limited as to what you are allowed to do, and using carplay/android auto is all about being limited severely in what you can and can not do. This bugs me when they shut out the best navigation app out there. Or I cant use my desired music or podcast application.
I commute in a metropolitan area and I live and die by using Waze to get to work on time or get home with my sanity in check. I prefer to not sit for 2 hours on I-4 because a tourist decided to turn into the cement barrier again. But apple and Google have determined that Waze is too dangerous to use (actually dangerous to their data gathering and mining) and is why they refuse to let it become a part of their car infotainment connection system.
There are tons of projects to integrate a tablet into a dashboard, and every single one is half way there. Because tablets are not designed to talk to the car and dim when the lights come on, turn on and off with the ignition, etc... they all suffer massively from this limitation and while some installs look absolutely great, they do not work well due to shoehorning a portable device into a dashboard. I tried to build my own a few years ago by buying a android board and touchscreen, but I was not savvy enough to add in code to android to do the startup and shutdown from the car's power as well as backlight dimming.... partly because the hardware board I bought was designed for portable use and not fixed use with power up and down capabilities. I tried the tricks like pulsing the sleep wake, but it got out of sync as you have only one button input for this, and it's standby power consumption was unacceptable, it actually was drawing enough in sleep to kill the car battery in 3 days. So I shelved the idea for a few years.
Fast forward to 2016/2017, a company called Joying created a double din car stereo running android. This was different from many others as they ran pure android only, and they had a price-point that made the risk low. I decided to jump on it and get one. And as a bonus it did not have the useless CD/DVD slot taking up precious screen real estate. It instantly went on my bench for testing and to play with it, I loaded testing software and right away ran into a possible problem.
After running the unit for a couple of hours it started to get a little sluggish, I notice the CPU temp was above 210 Deg F and thought that was odd for a device that was sitting on a bench in a 75F room. Off the case went and I started poking around inside. The processor has basically no heatsink whatsoever on it. It has instead a thin aluminum cover. I looked inside my junk box and found a old pentium heat sink and just set it on the processor module. Instantly the temps dropped and the processor stopped throttling it's self. Car stereos live in dashboards that when it's summer will get to 140F or higher... this needs active cooling. so I used thermal epoxy to cement the heat sink in place and added the fan to the top of that heat sink. I tapped in to the amp turn on line for the 12V power so the fan would turn on and off with the radio. this dropped temps to ambient almost instantly. Joying engineering mistake was fixed with $4.75 in parts if you bought it new... the thermal epoxy is more expensive but i had some on hand. Some mentioned that I voided the warranty, here is a neat little fact, you dont really have a warranty from these china electronics makers. Are you really going to spend $150 to ship the radio back with full tracking and insurance and then pay for them to ship it back to you on a $209 radio? Nothing from china has a real warranty.
The other problem is that the instructions for install of this thing are non existent. If you are used to car audio and electronics you can figure it out, but everyone else will be lost. there is a config app built in and it's password is 3368 to get in to change settings, would be nice if that information was included.... the GPS is strong, it actually got a lock inside the house in 15 minutes. and wifi is strong although a wire nub for the antenna. I would have preferred a RP-SMA connector to use a higher gain antenna or even a remotely mounted one, this could be fixed by buying one and crimping it on the standard wire they have, sadly they soldered to the board instead of using a standard u.FL connector. All speaker and power connections are normal colors, but the information about the steering wheel remote wires is completely filled with misinformation. IF your car uses standard resistance changes (Like 90% of the cars out there including newer models), you do not need an adapter box, just wire in remote 1 wire to your wheel wire and ground to ground. then the unit can read the resistances and program the buttons directly. remote 2 input is in case your car separates the keys for a separate bluetooth module for calling. If you have a car that uses canbus, there are boxes from Axxess that will convert canbus presses to resistance for this radio.
The advertising for this eludes to having a USB camera for a dash cam. this is a blatant bold faced lie. it will not use a usb camera at all, do not waste your money do not buy their camera, get a separate dash cam. They removed the ability to have usb cameras in Android 6 and they refuse to put it back in. and honestly reports online were that the older 5.1.1 android that did work really sucked and only did 10 FPS anyways. So do not buy their usb dash cam unless you just want to throw it away.
Installation into the dash can be difficult if your dash will not accept a true 2 DIN sized radio. My CRZ has only the metra dash kit and that is not designed for DIN but instead to trim a DIN radio making it very small and for some wierd reason set back almost a full inch. I spent a day with a dremel to cut the opening out cleanly to fit a real din radio, your car if it has a real DIN opening will fit nice and clean. the rest of the wiring is easy if you read the tags and follow the color codes. I put my GPS antenna on the dash, it get's 12 US GPS and 8 GLONASS birds constantly. their magnet in the antenna feels weak but it is a standard gps antenna so you can use anything you want. I also added a ELM USB ODB-II (Whee acronyms!) device so i can read and log the vehicle engine information, this eliminated the extra scanguage II I have had in my cars forever. Nice to clean up the dashboard a bit.
I then turned it on for the first time inside a car environment and was instantly disappointed, the sound out of this thing utterly sucks. It has a super cheap $1.25 10 watt 4 channel amplifier stage. That means 2.75 watts per speaker at less than 1%THD (it is a TDA7388 amp chip notorious for being very heavy on distortion if you get anywhere near even 10% of the rated output).... You absolutely must get an external amplifier for these radios if you want any audio quality. or any real volume levels as you can hear it start to distort as soon as you try and go past 1/4 volume using the internal amp... The JOYING forums complain about this, I assumed people were being whiney... Nope it really does suck that bad. Even a $35.00 BOSS amp is massively better than what this has in it. so get an amp right off the bat and plan on installing it. it also has NO power filtering. so you need to add a choke (just 5-10 turns around a toroid with the power lead or 10 turns of 16ga wire around a 1/2 inch pipe and then slide it off and tie wrap it to stay together) and a 10,000uf cap to both the power input and the 12V accessory trig input to filter out any noise. I would also add a 0.1uf for RFI rejection. once you do this things change for the better right away. None of this reared it's head on a bench supply, even a modern car has crap power so be ready to add power conditioning.
One other thing that has me concerned is the LCD panel, I highly doubt that this has a wide temperature range LCD that would be required for cars that are not in the south. I also wonder how well the LCD will be at temperatures above 120 degrees. It's late fall in Florida right now so I may have to wait for a hot day to see if there is an issue. IT is clear and easy to read in the daytime with the florida sun blasting the dashboard. In fact it's screen is a lot clearer in sunlight than the JVC radio it displaced.
There are only a few baked in applications that you can not remove, the bad browser, the bad video player, the radio application, the setup application and the media player app. the last 3 are required, the radio app is acceptable except the tune back for forward buttons look like a K and an upside down K. very odd icon choice. the media player app is a bit quirky but it does the job playing the pile of mp3 files. I have 2 128gb micro SD cards inserted and they play just fine. One very nice thing is the "NAV" button of the face you can point at whatever app you wish.
On thing that made me buy JOYING over anyone else is there is a strong hacker community around this radio and there is even a alternative android firmware out there if you want to be brave and try it. Joying let's the modders and hackers post their hacks in the joying forums. the Android XDA forums even have a section and following out there for the joying devices. Plus the community out there knows a lot more about this radio and all other of the company's products than the tech support people do.
The number one complaint for ALL Android car stereos before this one has been "takes forever to boot". This is not the case with this Joying stereo. It boots in under 3 seconds, this is dramatically faster than my top of the line JVC that it displaced. It also does not treat you like a 3 year old and makes you accept disclaimers and warning messages like the JVC, this alone is a huge plus for me. I absolutely hate the lawyer driven forced disclaimer world we live in.
The number 2 complaint for most android car stereos is that they do not have the google play market app. This one does. in fact it registers as a legitimate android device so you can even push app installs to it. I did find that some apps will not identify it right unless you install directly from the unit, for example torque would not push install... I had to go to the car and install it from the unit's app store directly. All installed and other apps are pretty snappy, as snappy as a 2 year old quad core android phone. and the display is very clear, no it's not 1080p dont even expect that. it's closer to 1280X800 and I even suspect that as too high it's probably closer to 1280X600 in reality no car stereo has high resolution screens because you are not watching movies on it. It runs waze well, it runs a lot of applications very well, one at a time. do not expect to get multitasking to run on this. Audio sources play in the background and navigation overlays the turn by turn over the audio. When I try to run Waze, Torque and the XM radio app at the same time Waze started to have issues and have very choppy updates. So do not try to run far too much at the same time. If you stay running an audio amp and a second application you will be absolutely fine. If they are not high processing types of apps you can run more. So far I have lived with it in my car for 7 days using it twice a day every single day. I love having Waze on my dashboard where it belongs, And I even have a better XM radio experience as I download the day befores howard stern show in the XM app and listen offline. I can skip the commercials and actually listen to the whole show instead of hoping to catch the afternoon repeat at the right time. Plus it is kind of fun logging all the data in Torque and see exactly how screwed up of a commute I have.
If you are able to go into one of these knowing the limitations and what you need to do to make it a working device, I do recommend getting one. Add the heat sink and fan, add good power conditioning, and get a 4 channel external amplifier. it will give you some real control over your in car entertainment and get past the overly limited and nag screen riddled world of aftermarket audio.
Lastly understand your expectations, it's a $299 device. Do not expect it to be perfect for this low entry level price point.... If you can manage your expectations and you are willing to do some of your own hardware hacking and modifications it can work out to be a very good addition to your daily driver. Like many things, this radio is not for the electronics and car audio newbie, I would consider it something for the power user that is not afraid to get their hands dirty and make it work the way you want it to. If you look at it as a way to give yourself complete control of your in car infotainment it is a gateway to using what you want and making it work how you want.
Edit: I have already had questions as to why mine does not say JOYING in big white letters. It's because I removed that by using fingernail polish remover pads and paper towels. I taped off the screen with yellow gentle release masking tape, then carefully rubbed the logo until it was removed. I then quickly wiped with a paper towel to get the excess off. the frame is ABS so it will start to soften, so when done let it dry undisturbed it will re harden and look great. I still have a shadow of the joying that some 2000 grit sandpaper would get rid of... Maybe later.
Here are some bits of information to get you hacking it... NOTE, changing backlight bias settings to wrong values will cause damage and you may lose the backlight forever. watch it...
3368 for settings
5768 menu backlight
Root and debug on
- method 2 still work for root and SU
By default they have an annoying "touch assistant" app that floats on the screen, for some reason people in china like annoying crap so it's included. to disable it you have to launch "touch assistant " and turn off "Show on screen", "start at boot". Now the annoying floating grey button will be gone. Update - I'm now a month into living with it daily. It's annoying to have to start up tethering on the phone every time you get in the car and connect to the radio. Also having a USB ODB device auto launches torque if you want it or not, so you have to close that every single time if you don't want to use it. It does do a full hard off sleep if you let the car sit for a few days. I had to fly out of town for a week and left the car at the airport, when I came back I had to watch the full boot sequence that takes 15 seconds. but every morning and evening it boots in 2 seconds and is ready to go. I am now officially tired of the built in audio player, I need something more advanced that will do compression and auto audio leveling so each song is not at a different volume like most CD's are and the mp3's ripped off them. still searching for something that does not suck, poweramp requires internet access to phone home so it is not an option.
Overall I'm still ok with it, I love that it treats me as an adult and does not warn me for 30 seconds that I WILL DIE A FIERY DEATH if I am distracted by the radio. Overall it's a decent radio and it works better on steering wheel controls do than any big name aftermarket that uses the universal adapter boxes that freak out a lot. I need to add a DSP in between the radio and the amp so I can do some equalization. I will stick with it until Carplay starts to support WAZE and other apps. I absolutely recommend getting a cellular USB stick or one of the in car wifi boxes so it has it's own internet so that you don't have to dink around with your phone every time you get in.
2 Months later Update - Still working but I have had one instance where I had to press the reset button as it got stuck. I am still ok with it but will be removing the ODB-II interface as it forces Torque to open every single time you start the car. This means the startup is slow as 4-5 apps all try to start up at the same time. Also it's annoying that I have to re-attach it to wifi every time I start the car. Honestly it really needs a USB LTE dongle to give it internet all the time.
another update - Joying released an actual update for the radio in November, but being a typical china company they can't communicate to save their life so you have to dig through a ton of crap to find it. I finally found links to the firmware they have on some random google drive under a youtube video. Why the company refuses to get professionals in charge of their customer service, I'll never understand. What does their update fix? Not a clue. they like not telling you anything at all. I'm trying a 3rd party firmware instead. Warning Joying's own firmware update blows out the iGO navigation software and you will NOT get a working copy back. Their "tech support" only gave me a runaround and then sent me a download of a very old version that does not work with Android 6. Once again, the "warranty" from any of these China manufacturers are worthless. So be aware of what you should expect with their own official releases.
The link to it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DB9pzg-92iU&t=996s
Update almost a year later... Well the Joying stereo is coming out of the dash. it is starting to give me random problems such as the GPS is sometimes not being discovered until I press the reset button to reset to default again. One of the biggest problems is most apps are written for a portrait phone, this makes things like the Sirius XM app to be extremely clunky, Waze is locking up a lot as well. I really wanted this to work, I even bought a ODB-II wireless hotspot so it had it's own internet connection. but it's still clunky. The GPS ability started to slowly degrade and now when you start the car you have to sit for 5 minutes while it acquires a GPS lock, connects to the wifi hotspot. Audio quality out of the speaker outs is simply not very good, and adding the amplifier while making an improvement did not make enough of an improvement over the old JVC Arsenal that was in there. Subwoofer adjustments are not linear, you need to crank it all the way up on some sources, and way down on others.
With Apple letting WAZE on carplay I am stepping away from Joying and android car stereos. They just do not make these things powerful enough or even for a car environment. The heat sink I added made a giant difference in the stability of the unit on summer days, even with the interior of the car at 160F the stereo operated. but the lack of any power conditioning built in, lack of stability of the android install and extreme lack of any support from Joying after sale leave me wanting. I spent another $50 in apps for this after purchasing to make it even better.
If you can get one for under $200 and just can not afford anything else? I would say go for it if you fully understand it will not be a smooth or reliable experience. if you are ok with sitting there until everything calms down after you start the car as well as some big quirks like not being able to turn off the super loud key beep without going into 4 menus in a precise order.... Take a look.
It was a fun experiment. and if they actually made a decent version I would pay $500 for it with a solid design for in car use with serious processing power and exceptional support.