Panasonic CQ-RDP153N Car MP3 CD Player

Panasonic CQ-RDP153N Car MP3 CD Player

I’d mail-ordered this one a couple of years ago on a friend’s recommendation who was very enthusiastic about it. I’d long since waited for a decent car cd player to support MP3 and so I ordered it after only a quick browse of the product page verifying it wasn’t one of those with a tacky old VFD nor a fancy and bloated animated display. Since my car just had been broken into and my good old Kenwood CD player (no MP3 support) stolen I was anxious to get a replacement soon. And since a pause and a mute button on the same device seemed almost too good to be true I even resigned myself to paying the Micro$oft tax for support of their crappy WMA format.

Unfortunately this was a bit premature cause the device came with a serious flaw:

the display’s scroll speed is sloooooow.

No biggy? Well, if you consider what distance you travel in a few seconds at certain speeds I’d say the amount of time reading a display is better spent on keeping your eyes on the road. But see for yourself, and don’t be discouraged by the time it takes the player to read an unfinalised multi-session disc:

That’s 20 seconds to read the disc and 42 seconds into the song to scroll through the full title! That’s slow. Or lame actually considering further minor flaws.

For example, I never would have expected a nice thing like a dot matrix display to be far too bright. I could go Corey Hart on it and wear my sunglasses at night cause as you might have guessed there’s no dim button (remember those? They’ve been on tape decks for ages). I’ve actually heard from people using foil (like from those tinted glass for cars) to tone down the brightness of their displays.

And what’s the point of supporting ID3v2-tags when the title field is limited to 30 chars? Speaking of which, I’ve not yet figured out what kinda charset is supported. I mean, ampersand, slash and colon are but other special chars (and german umlauts of course) are not. As you can see in the clip above, when there’s a special char that’s not supported it’s replaced by an asterisk that even swallows the following regular char! Here’s what the playlist looks like:

  • Queens Of The Stone Age – The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret becomes The Lost Art of Keeping a Secr
  • Tool – Forty Six & 2 – Ænima becomes Tool – Forty Six & 2 – *nima
  • Ill Niño – I Am Loco becomes Ill Ni* – I Am Loco

And finally, what about MP3 CDs? As you know, they can hold about 8 hours of music on a decent bitrate (LAME -aps) but when you switch to audiobooks that usually are smaller and you wanna listen to track no. 153, how many times do you have to press ‘skip’? Any guesses? It’s as if those 10+ buttons CD players already had in the 80′s never existed.

Thus I made a mental note for future purchases: to check out products myself instead of relying on others who might be slow readers or something. And I did, sort of. More on this next time…

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6 thoughts on “Panasonic CQ-RDP153N Car MP3 CD Player

  1. Kat Brunton

    I understand what you are saying, but as far as I am concerned most of what you are talking about is superficial aesthetics. (The exception being, the skip function, which obviously hampers use.) I really am not too bothered if the display cannot fit the entire track title, so long as there is enough there to differentiate which is which.
    When I buy a stereo the most important aspect is: how does it sound? I know that this depends on your speaker set up as well. But there is no question that if the sound quality is the biz then all else fades.
    So what is the sound quality like?

    Reply
    1. Marvin Post author

      I’ve long sinced moved on from my Panasonic so I can’t compare it to other devices but I remember the sound being pretty good even with standard speakers. Different priorities aside I think it’s safe to say that in this day and age electronics of well known companies have reached a certain level of professionalism that people can expect. Thus I don’t think any modern car radio has bad sound which makes it even more important for those companies to differentiate in features or above all usability.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Sony CDX-GT414U car MP3 CD Player with USB slot « Techflaws

  3. Marvin Post author

    This might yet again be due to limited memory which – don’t get me wrong – is a flaw in itself too.

    According to specs the amount of tracks an audio CD can hold is 99, an mp3 CD however can hold a lot more tracks (depending on bitrate used) and, more importantly, also have a folder hierarchy that can make for long path/filenames (up to 255 on Joliet). E.g. 117 tracks x 255 byte = 29 KB. Doesn’t sound like much to me either but this is the amount the shuffle list must cover to be able to address each song.

    Sadly enough it’s also possible that it is as you suggest and it’s simply a design flaw. I’m not entirely convinced though cause I have yet to see a consumer electronics device (MP3 player, DVD player with MP3 support, and even Winamp!) featuring a decent shuffle/random algorithm that does not play some songs several times before having gone through an entire playlist.

    Reply
  4. Michel Coutu

    Nice to see someone on these farcical crappy hardware.

    I have one for you…

    I was looking for a basic ‘a small portable” CD player, but that could also play MP3s… I found the “Panasonic – SA-EN17″ that was exactly what I was looking for. It stated all the good things, INCLUDING “Songs Shuffling”.

    I was tickled pink with this… My girlfriend and I each got one.

    Took these home, and worked OK but I could not “shuffle” the MP3s, no option on the menu, nor on the Remote. So, I did what we ususally have to do, I RTFM…

    Lo and Behold, Shuffling is ONLY FOR regular CDs… Not MP3…

    Why in the hell would they make such a product? I don’t particularly care about shuffling a single CD, but a reasonable CD full of MP3s, has a ton of music that one would want to shuffle… Darn!

    So add another one “TechFlaws” to your list..

    Regards,

    Michel Coutu

    Reply

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