Installation wasn’t completely straightforward as my Ford Focus factory fit unit is a non standard size, which meant I needed to get a fascia adaptor to plug the gap. I also needed to pick up a harness adaptor to connect the Sony to the wiring of my Focus. In addition, I got a steering remote adaptor so that I could continue to use the steering wheel stalk controls. At least that was the theory. The cable didn’t work so I was left having to control tracks and volume on the unit itself, though this wasn’t the fault of the Sony head unit. A Sony steering wheel stalk controller is available, but as an optional extra. The glass mounted aerial is a thin strip that was placed out of the way on the passenger side and didn’t spoil the look of the car at all.
Feature wise, the Sony has almost everything you’d expect to see in a head unit. It offers 52W over four channels, which should be plenty for most people and a major power hike over the average standard fit radio. If you need more it also has two pre-out for an external amp and sub-woofer. There’s also a remote control supplied but I can’t see ever having need for one of these as I’d have no intention of letting back seat drivers also be back seat DJs.
It also has auxiliary input via two RCA connections. What it doesn’t have is support to a CD or Minidisc changer, contradicting the specs that Sony had up on its web site for most of last year. Indeed it still lists this on Amazon. This means that you can’t use something like the Dension ICE Link Plus if you wanted to attach an iPod to the car. You can of course, run the iPod directly via the auxiliary inputs, but you’ll have to use something like a Belkin auto kit to provide a amplified line and charge it externally via a power socket. You only then be able to control the iPod directly, so you’ll need to also get a mounting bracket.
As well as DAB, the FM features RDS, which provides stations names over FM and automatic switching to travel reports. The CD player can also read MP3s and Sony’s native ATRAC3 Plus codec, so if you’ve got a Sony Walkman such as the HD-5 and your albums encoded into Atrac3 Plus, you can simply copy them onto a CD and play them directly.