Recently my MP3 player packed up in the car.  It was a TraxData Neo mStation hard disk based MP3 player, which has served me well for the past 9 years and 3 hard disks.  One thing I liked about it was the fact it was hard disk based (IDE) so upgrading to high capacity was easy, and the fact it just browsed the disk directly – no indexing or building of a database of the metadata was required.  I guess it does look a bit 80’s with it’s monochrome display, and this is how it finally died, with a green screen of death 🙁 So I needed something that is new, modern, going to be future proof and have lots of functions and useless features I would never use, but the few critical features a car radio should provide which work well.  So here it is, my installation notes of a Parrot Asteroid BMW E46 install.

So I wanted (needed) another MP3 player for the car as my commute is hellishly boring and radio reception is non-existent to patch at best.  At first I was seeking another product similar – hard disk based with a control that could be mounted in the dash, but I was unable to find anything.  I then started considering changing out the standard BMW Business CD headunit, as mine has had the same CLSM breakbeat hardcore CD stuck in it for about 4 years now, and all of the head units are either heavily iPod based, just have a single 3.5mm jack input for aux, or use USB/SD card for playing other media, but most have small limits in terms of supported storage.

I considered just using the line in, but all I could really find in terms of players were portable MP3 players which have small buttons and screens, and are highly knickable if left mounted to the dash.  Then I came across the Parrot Asteroid – a head unit running Android.  This has to be worth a look.  So I bit the bullet and ordered one. I spent last weekend fitting it and removing the old cabling for the mStation – not so much fun outside at +2 C.  I also rigged up a 500GB self powered USB drive (Intenso).

Initial thoughts:


Sound is good.  Very good – much better than the standard head unit.

Hands free – very good quality hands free. Syncs well with my contacts (HTC Desire, CM7 ROM).

Voice Dialling works well.

Streaming internet radio when tethered from the phone works well (but eats data).

The head unit is very shallow, so great if you don’t have much wiring space.

The build quality is pretty good.


Cannot handle ‘large’ volumes of MP3 – fails to build the library, so can only browse by directory, not by artist/album/genre.

Google Maps – but cannot support turn by turn navigation.

No support for USB Wifi.

Does not automatically switch to night mode at sunset.

Menu order and inability to hide unused menu entries (line input, iPod etc).

Does not resume playback from USB when powering back on.

Cannot have radio on without ignition on. You could wire the ISO connector so that a permanent feed goes to the switched feed, but then the unit is powered up all the time.

Can take 30 seconds from a cold boot (more than 30 minutes) to get any audio out.



So there are a few points from my initial findings.  Hopefully many of these can be improved with further software updates, and this unit should offer plenty of potential for other Android development.


GPS Wire Behind Facia

GPS Receiver Behind Driver Compartment

Testing Connections

Connections on Back of Headunit

Line In

USB Hard Disk In The Glovebox Stuck With Velcro

The Finished Install


  1. rollk1 says:

    Hey! I was wondering where you got the Asteroid faceplate for your E46. I can’t find one that fits properly and was told by CarToys to cut up a standard facia to make it fit, but would rather not. Any insight?


  2. adamc says:

    It is actually generic and isn’t specific to the Parrot Asteroid. I got this kit from Dynamic Sounds, but you can just buy the fascia without the adapters if you already have them:

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