I bought a car stereo, but it was far more complex than I intended.

First, I went by two Fry's and a Wal-Mart, and ALL the Sony's at all three locations were unavailable to try out because their demo board power supply went out recently. Not that I was married to Sony, but the reviews and price/feature (in the Sony-Kenwood-Pioneer-JVC brands) seemed to point to a Sony between $100 and $200.

I wanted a USB port, but some models didn't have it, and I saw reviews of some radios saying they couldn't handle more than 2GB drives. I could have tested this if the damn displays worked.... I was also mildly curious if a radio that could control an iPod would also control a Droid. I doubted it, but it was worth a try (if the demos would power on). My HTC Droid Incredible has issues with sound skipping when playing via Bluetooth stereo headphones profile to my Motorola T505 Bluetooth speakerphone, and apparently other Droid users have similar issues, but the one fix I tried didn't help. So I sort of wanted Bluetooth built into the stereo but wasn't sure if my Droid could successfully use it.

While looking they had a relatively cheap Sony with HD FM built in, but again I've heard that some people have issues with such units falling back to analog FM and going back to HD as signal strength changes, and they say the broadcasts aren't synchronous so it's very distracting when it does that.

So there are several features I thought I wanted, but each had possible or even probable usability issues. I finally decided all I originally wanted was the damn input jack on the front of the radio that every sound-producing device I own has, and Sony had an $80 unit with the same 4x52w amp that the more expensive units have, so I just bought the Sony "cheapie".

I'm still on an overnight schedule, so last night I stayed up and carefully soldered the radio's wiring harness to the Hyundai adapter harness I bought a week or two ago, covered the joint with heat shrink tubing and then neatly tie-wrapped it up. I figured it would be easier to do it inside, and not have to mess with it while my dash was apart.

Getting the old radio out wasn't too bad except four pieces of snap-in trim clip into place with many little plastic clips that gleefully—I could hear them skipping on the way into hiding—come loose and fall back into the dash where I can't see them, much less think about reaching them.

So I trial fit my new radio, hook up my carefully constructed harness and try it out. No volume. Well, almost no volume with the radio turned all the way up. Long story shorter my wiring harness has a black box with what I deduce to be a speaker-out-to-pre-amp-out converter. I then realize my purchased adapter harness specified it's for the "premium sound system" which apparently has a factory amp somewhere in the trunk, and I don't have that. I quite less carefully cut all the tie-wraps, unsoldered the black box from the speaker wires and spliced them directly, then threw some electrical tape and tie wraps at it for insulation and strain relief.

Well that worked much better, so some careful fitting, strategic repositioning of the few plastic trim clips left and other reassembling later I now have a "line in" jack in my car. What's sad is that I think I'm going to miss being able to use the volume and mute controls on the steering wheel. I'm sure I'll get over it, though.

I got the Sony CDX-GT240. Fry's had it at the same price as the CDX-GT340, and as far as I can tell the only differences are that the the -340 has an extra set of pre-amp outputs and rear RCA inputs, and can accept optional (presumably too expensive) upgrades for HD or satellite radio. But they were sold out of the -340, and I am quite sure I'll never miss the "features" the 340 has over the 240.

Update:A couple of days after I installed the radio my Droid prompted me to install an update. After it completed I noted I am now on Android 2.2 (was 2.1), and I tested the bluetooth stereo play, and it no longer skips. Figures. Doesn't really matter as I decided to use the iPod to play in the car.