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RNS-E / Symphony II+ back to back comparison

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by GeoffT, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. GeoffT
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    GeoffT Member

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    [Feb 3, 2008]
    I guess this should go in the ICE section, but no-one seems to read that so I'll put it here!

    As many of you will know, I have recently retrofitted a RNS-E retrofit in place of my Symphony II+. After having to put the Symphony II+ back in due to a warranty trip to the dealers regarding a Bluetooth fault, I have now decided to stick with that, and have just sold the RNS-E. As I have just done a back to back comparison, I thought I would put down my thoughts on the pros and cons of each system while they are fresh in my mind. Hopefully this might help people if they are thinking of choosing either system.

    I have separated the RNS-E functionality into Radio/MP3 player/telephone interface to compare with the Symphony with the MFSW phone control, and the Navigation to compare to a standalone system such as a Tomtom.


    RNS-E as a radio/MP3 player/Telephone interface - pros
    • SD card MP3 playback – easier to add/change tracks than burning a new CD
    • Larger screen enables more MP3 tracks in list to be displayed
    RNS-E as a radio/MP3 player/Telephone interface - cons
    • SD card 400 file limit (per card).
    • Slow starting MP3 playback on start-up.
    • Poor choice of screen colour schemes. (my pet-hate !)
    • Has no start-up volume setting.
    • MP3 display – playing time covers up part of the title/artist line for the current track.
    • Radio does not default to the memory screen.
    • Screen sometimes difficult to read in sunlight. (especially low winter sun)
    • Telephone system starts in the “dial number manually” screen. Takes several button presses to get to phone book. No advantage that I have found over using the MFSW to access the phone.
    • (Late 2007 onwards vehicles only) Changes to vehicle aerial wiring cause “ZF to ground DTC” errors and a slightly poor FM signal. This can be solved but costs around £150 to do.
    Symphony II+ as radio/MP3 player & MFSW as telephone interface - pros
    • Screen is easier to read in sunlight (and is the correct Audi red colour!)
    • Can store 512 files per CD (although this would have to be at very low bitrate to get onto a 700Mb CD)
    • Gives 4.2Gb (6*700Mb) of MP3 storage with a theoretical total of 3072 files.
    • Startup volume setting.
    • Radio shows presets screen as default
    • (MFSW) One button press for access to phone book.
    Symphony II+ as radio/MP3 player & MFSW as telephone interface - cons
    • Does not show CD/MP3 disc title in CD changer screen (just displays either MP3 or CD) so you need to remember which CD is in which location.
    • In radio mode (on late 2007 models) the left roller on the MFSW does not scroll through presets, but all possible stations.
    • IN MP3 browse mode the left roller on the MFSW does not scroll through the list.
    RNS_E as navigation pros
    • Factory fit
    • Large screen
    • Secure
    • Displays info in DIS
    RNS_E as navigation cons
    • No facility to add custom POIs (ie speed cameras)
    • Without SDS is a total pain to program.
    • Even with SDS is not as easy to use as a touch screen navigation system.
    • Only supports 4 digit postcode – still have to enter street name.
    Stand alone navigation (Tomtom in my case) pros
    • Extremely easy to use via touchscreen
    • Can be programmed in advance out of car.
    • Can add custom POIs such as speed cameras and give warning when approaching them.
    • Full postcode support.
    Stand alone navigation (Tomtom in my case) cons
    • Needs additional mount / wiring.
    • Security risk if left in car with mount on show (I have hidden my mount in the ashtray but that is not perfect)
    • Smaller screen
    • No info on DIS
    Summary

    If anyone ever succeeds in cracking the firmware on the RNS-E, I think it could be transformed, as most of my cons with it could be solved by a decent programmer in an afternoon. Until that happens, I just found that those little gripes continually annoyed me. It is a bit like going on a date with a gorgeous woman, only to find out she has bad breath and supports Man Utd.
    #1
  2. sat1983
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    sat1983 Member

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    [Feb 3, 2008]
    Hehe interesting read Geoff. I have just had the RNS retroffited so hope I will get on with it better than you did. I have to say either way it's miles better than the concert unit i had before.
    I have just come back from a 3000 miles round europe trip and my Tom Tom was a pain in the neck to live with. Just one of them things but it went faulty just as we left Sheffield. Couldn't keep a charge and the charger wouldn't work either, neither did the replacement i bought for it. And the real pain in the arse was to put it away everytime we stopped.
    Another thing, is wiping the suction mark off the windscreen.
    I must admit that not having a touchscreen on the RNS-E is annoying. Still, I'll get used to it!
    #2
  3. GeoffT
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    GeoffT Member

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    [Feb 3, 2008]
    I think that to use a Tomtom seriously you really do need a proper "active" mount so that it is held solidly and with no flying power leads. I hate those windscreen mounts (and they're a dead giveaway to thieves). I use a Tomtom every day in my company van with a brodit mount and have never had a moments trouble with it.

    In the A3, where the Nav doesn't get used as much, I have fitted a modified active mount in the ashtray (details are on here somewhere) so that it is totally hidden when not in use. It's not an ideal place to view the screen, but it's not too bad and with voice prompts it's fine, and gives warning of speed cameras which has saved me a few points.
    #3
  4. migzy
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    migzy Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    just out of curiosity i'm ordering a dension kit for my symphony 2 +, do you remember wehter the cd port was a 12 pin quadlock or a 20 pin ISO connection.

    Thanks

    Migzy
    #4
  5. redbutcher
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    redbutcher Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    It'll be a quadlock fitting.
    #5
  6. migzy
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    migzy Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    excellent i'm thinking of wacking in a ipod touch.

    thanks

    migzy
    #6
  7. MarcQuinlivan
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    MarcQuinlivan Active Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    12 pin - the blue connector in the quadlock.
    #7
  8. benw123
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    benw123 Moderator

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    Interesting post, Geoff. Having had my RNS-E in place for a little over a year, I understand a lot of the shortcomings you mentioned - it's far from perfect. I read a car review last year featuring the B7 A4 against its rivals and the testers criticised the RNS-E fitted to the test car, saying it was difficult to use against the competition.

    However, I'm made up with mine. The extra features it has over the Symphony II that was replaced make it worthwhile; the TMC feature alone of the RNS-E makes it worth having in my view as it's saved some nightmare journeys again and again. The MP3/SD card setup works well too - word is that the latest software release 0650 has removed the 512 file limit - and the way it integrates into the car, both in terms of looks and automatic hook-up with DIS is fab. And while not necessarily adding anything in value to the car, the RNS-E will make it much easier to sell because it's a desirable option, plus it's gonna be there when I come back to it each day: the number of portable sat nav thefts these days puts me right off buying one.

    We can only hope those bods on http://www.navplus.us get the firmware cracked to allow some improvements!
    #8
  9. Issac Hunt
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    Issac Hunt Active Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    Do you know if this is correct? Would you happen to know what the new file limit is?
    #9
  10. h5djr
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    h5djr Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    I use Sat/Nav software loaded on my PDA. It's held in a hardwired Brodit mount fitted to the dashboard. My PDA always goes with me when I leave the car. The GPS is a CF card slot mounted unit which I also take with me. Sometimes I even use the software in pedestrian mode to find a location if I have to park someway away.

    I can also set up a location, POI or route on the PDA at my desk in the house the day before I leave for a journey. The GPS works just as well inside the house as in the car.
    #10
  11. benw123
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    benw123 Moderator

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    Check out this post on navplus. There's more details of the software changes in this thread.
    #11
  12. Issac Hunt
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    Issac Hunt Active Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    Cheers Ben, No definitive answer that I could find with regards to the file limit though I'm afraid.

    I will load up one of my 4G cards over the weekend to try and find out if anything has changed with 0650.
    #12
  13. GeoffT
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    GeoffT Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    I thought someone on Navplus had tested 0650 and the 400 file limit still exists.
    #13
  14. Issac Hunt
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    Issac Hunt Active Member

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    File limit was 512 previous to 0650 so I'll be most annoyed if it has gone down!
    #14
  15. consilio
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    consilio Up the owls!

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    [Feb 5, 2008]
    But if she looks good and goes like a train, you'd still shag her right? :icon_thumright:


    RNS-E all the way!
    #15
  16. GeoffT
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    GeoffT Member

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    [Feb 6, 2008]
    Are you sure? The navplus guys seem to think it was, and still is 400. I was going to test it but didn't get that far.


    Well I could forgive the bad breath - but not the Man U supporting!

    Seriously, I am happier with Symphony II+ and Tomtom than the RNS-E (and £500 better off)
    #16
  17. L60N
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    L60N Guest

    [Feb 6, 2008]
    Forgive bad breath? :tocktock:

    I dumped a hotty because her feet were out of proportion, i just couldnt get my head round it.:keule: though i really wanted to, she was a diamond!
    #17
  18. Kontraband
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    Kontraband Active Member

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    [Feb 6, 2008]
    :applaus: freaky feet, man! freaky feet!
    #18
  19. Issac Hunt
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    Issac Hunt Active Member

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    [Feb 6, 2008]
    100% sure. I have somewhere around 490 files on each of my SD cards. Further investigation seems to indicate that the limit of 400 could apply to files within the root folder itself not the total number of objects on the SD card. Or it could depend on the HW version of the unit as some people think, Mine is HW73 as is a friend of mine's. Both our units can handle 512 files in total per card. My mate read on a German forum that the 512 limit has not increased with SW0650.

    Looks like its back to the Kufatec IMA project to fully integrate the controls for Zune MP3 player instead.
    #19
  20. PetrolDave
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    PetrolDave Well-Known Member

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    [Feb 7, 2008]
    My RNS-E also takes 512 files, but some guys are totally sure theirs will only take 400.

    Like you I think the limit is 400 in the root folder, and 512 on the card as a whole.

    It's almost certainly not a HW version dependent thing.

    It's true that the limit has NOT increased with SW0650.
    #20
  21. sat1983
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    sat1983 Member

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    [Feb 7, 2008]
    I have spent all evening putting songs on the SD card for the RNS-E to tell me that the data is corrupted. What am I doing wrong?
    #21
  22. PetrolDave
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    PetrolDave Well-Known Member

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    [Feb 7, 2008]
    1) Are you sure they are MP3 files? - they are the ONLY ones that work.

    2) Did you FAT32 format the SD card first?
    #22
  23. sat1983
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    sat1983 Member

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    [Feb 7, 2008]
    Right have fixed it. Or thought I had. They are Mp3's and are formatted FAT32.
    Some songs will play fully some will only play less than a minute, what's happening!!
    #23
  24. baz1985
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    baz1985 Member

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    [Feb 10, 2008]
    Pioneer HD3-BT is the way to go.
    #24
  25. rbouzereau
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    rbouzereau New Member

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    [May 6, 2008]
    Hello guys,

    I am trying to get all the information to retrofit an OEM Bluetooth module in my Sept 2007 A3 8P. My car came with the MFSW, the FIS, and the Concert II+ radio. All the retrofit details I found were for previous versions of the radio (Concert/Symphony I, Concert/Symphony II..). Could someone help out with the exact part#s I need to order and how to connect them to my Concert II+. What are the VAG COM codes I need to change? Finally, if I am using a US bluetooth module (like the 8P0 862 335 G), what difference will that make for the VAG COM coding?

    Thanks for your help guys!
    #25
  26. Issac Hunt
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    Issac Hunt Active Member

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    [May 6, 2008]
    You'll probably get a more detailed response on navplus, there is a probably a guide on there!
    #26
  27. Matt
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    Matt Active Member

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    [May 6, 2008]
    So the £1500 factory fit (or how ever much it is) RNS-E doesn't even have full postcode input?!
    #27
  28. GeoffT
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    GeoffT Member

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    [May 6, 2008]
    Nope! just for example "CV3 5" then a list of street name to pick from. Compared to a modern sat-nav it's very poor. It looks good, that's about all it's got going for it IMO.
    #28
  29. benw123
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    benw123 Moderator

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    [May 6, 2008]
    Plus it won't get nicked like a TomTom! ;)
    #29
  30. GeoffT
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    GeoffT Member

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    [May 6, 2008]
    I woudn't be so sure - where do all the RNS-Es on Ebay come from?

    Anyway never had a TomTom nicked in 5 years. Helped keep my licence clean too.
    #30
  31. rbouzereau
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    rbouzereau New Member

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    [May 6, 2008]
    Hi Isaac, I couldn't find this guide yet on Navplus. I'll keep searching and asking :)
    #31

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