Thursday, June 13, 2019

Xtrons PB78ATTIP Replacement Radio for Audi TT 8J

Video review of Audi TT 8J Stereo Replacement

Whilst the video review above explains the many wonderful features of the replacement stereo that we have installed into our Audi TT, generation 8J, I suggest that you read on.

Some Background
Going back only say 5 years we lived in a time when many Auto manufacturers sought to really extract a pound of flesh or in our case almost 2K GBP  (2000 British pounds equivalent!!) for a mere car stereo.

How could they charge so much?

Well first; the unit must fit into a specially sized double DIN hole in the dashboard.  Also it must precisely interface with the Control Area Network BUS CANBUS electronics to be compatible with steering wheel controls and other gizmos already present in the car.  So third party manufacturers have an uphill struggle to physically and then electronically make anything compatible.

We have stuck with out 5 year old, exorbitantly priced unit as long as we could, but continued our search for a replacement, and in particular one that has Internet connectivity

An Internet Stereo
Our dream, or perhaps desire is to have a Car stereo unit with full Internet connectivity via some 4G connection and applications on the radio, example Google Maps, or say Spotify that could take full advantage of this.

Xtrons PB78ATTIP

Xtrons is a Hong Kong company which has a British sales office and the TTIP unit is the third radio we have bought from them because there have been extensive compatibility problems the previous 2 different units and even this unit until somebody other than Xtrons solved the problem.

This unit fits perfectly into an Audi TT, generation 8J car and it is a better electrical fit if you have the BOSE amplifier installed  (otherwise you need to order some extra electronics)

Getting Past the Bug
The initial 2 different radios ordered and even this one came with a fatal flaw.

Whilst the radio worked, every Android application apart from the supplied radio app was unable to play any sound.  It took Xtrons 3 months not to solve the problem but eventually the Audi TT user forum came to the rescue with a workaround and this is it:

Enter the Factory Menu (Google 3 digit password) and set the canbus to 56.  After rebooting your Android applications that you might install e.g. Youtube or VLC will be able to output sound to the Bose Amplifier and thence to your speakers.

Note that whatever the canbus setting, the volume control and radio controls on the steering wheel do not work with the TTIP model.  The chances of Xtrons ever fixing this are zero.  

Some Photos

 Connectors on the back

SD card slot #1

 I have a 64GB micro SD card full of audio and video here

 In the factory menu other low level changes can be made

Example of an Android application that I installed: Audible

Remind me, What is this Again

So this is a physically plug compatible replacement for any Audi TT 8J series that will swap out your dumb radio and install a Radio with a DVD player  (which I will never use!) and running Android 8 on an 8 core processor with 4GB RAM on which you can install any Android application.

And, as I'll show you we now have full Internet connectivity not via a mobile phone Hotspot but by a permanent dongle.

The ability to have a full time Internet connection enables us  to Google Maps for navigation, and that is aware via the Internet of traffic issues and suggests auto rerouting and a host of features.  Recently Maps added speed cameras, so now that is just another standard facility that has become available.  It's wonderful!

Getting an Internet Connection

A first attempt can be made via a mobile Hotspot initiated from your Smartphone.  Here on entry to the car you switch on your Hotspot, which broadcasts a WiFi SSID and you use the Xtrons WiFi to connect to that.

This works but turns out to be a little clumsy.  Every time you enter and exit the car you need to turn on your Hotspot.  It would be much better with an independent connection.
Using a Huawei K3772 plugged into one of the 3 USB ports, the Android Operating System will recognise the Internet Dongle and automatically use it as an Internet Source.

In the UK, as great fans of the 3 Network we ordered the 24 month validity, 24GB SIM for 60 GBP

User Report +2 Months

I have waited almost 2 months to make this report so I can accurately access how wonderful or not the unit is.  Here we go:

+ It runs Android 8.1.  They do a new Android 9.0 unit but it seems to have inferior hardware so I'm not sure it would be superior  (screen resolution is better apparently, but hey, this unit is fine!)

+ I can install any Android app I would like and use it as normal.  This is the #1 sellout feature and it is awesome.  I mean Audible, Spotify, Youtube, VLC, BBC iPlayer.  Without this feature the unit would be just meh.

+ We use Google Maps for navigation and programmed the NAVI hardware button to jump straight there

+ You can change the Android Launcher to whatever you want but we kept the supplied launcher and put all the apps we use regally on the first page

+ We use VLC to play movies and Audio that we put onto the micro SD card.  Movies wont play whilst in motion unless you change something in factory settings.  Now my passenger can watch a movie if they want to at any time.  Movies and Audio plays faultlessly without stuttering and look great on the display.

+ There is phone integration and a microphone on the top left of the unit

+ EasyConnect is some software that will mirror the phone display and to get the sound we use a concurrent Bluetooth connection.   Thought this sounds good in practise but we don't use it much.  Instead since the radio has its own Internet and Android Play store connection we'd rather install the app we might mirror directly onto the radio

+ A2DP application allows you to send any Smartphone output to the Xtrons amplifier and speakers

+ As a security measure we created a separate Gmail userid and hence playstore login.  This is because if you had logged onto the Xtrons using your principal Gmail userid, then if your car is stolen the thief will have access to all your emails. That would be disasterous.  Remember you just power the unit on and there is no userid and password to logon.   

--- Glitches.  Many times applications crash, or are somewhat slow, or stutter.  This could be a slow Internet connection, but it's more likely some Android gremlin and Xtrons does not send out firmware updates  (ever to our knowledge).  So when you get the unit, the OS you get is the one you will be living with for all time.

Despite some glitches in operational speed we really love this unit.  Its cost is about 250 GBP and I rate this as a wonderful bargain especially when I consider Audi made me pay almost 2000 GBP for the original radio, which had DVD based Satellite Navigation, but not even an Auxiliary Audio input connection.

We are most pleased and recommend this Xtrons PB78ATTIP unit to Audi TT,  8J owners.


Xtrons PB78ATTIP