Saturday, January 30, 2010

You Can Only Record Songs But Not Extract It from the Head Unit

The head unit on the NFL model has a firewire port. I have always wanted to see if I can connect to the hard disk in the head unit via a firewire interface. If it is possible I want to know if I can either copy the tracks out from the hard disk or copy songs from external storage device into the hard disk.

For a long time I have been trying to get the firewire interface to work and to recognize the hard disk controller on my notebook. However despite trying different firewire device drivers I was not able to make it work. The hard disk controller on the head unit always give a "device unknown" message. Since then I have given up on it.

A reader of mine is currently in Japan and he visited Toyota Osaka showroom with his Japanese counter-part (who act as a translator for him). They were told by the Toyota representative that it is not possible to download or upload song to the head unit through any kind of connection via computer. The firewire port in the head unit is solely for the the purpose of updating the GPS maps.

I am not convinced but I guess without knowing what kind of interface they used for the connection, there is no way to confirm this. Also I consider both songs and GPS maps as just data passing through the firewire cable. There must be another reason for the representative to give the this answer.

The obvious reason must be due to copyright infringment issue. Knowing that the Japanese is very strict with any copyright issue they don't encourage anyone to find out how the interface work hence downloaded the copyrighted songs illegally. Also in Japan, the G-Book function allowed copyrighted songs to be downloaded from the G-Book Center over-the-air by paying customers. Therefore Toyota will want to protect these copyrighted songs from being downloaded from the hard disk illegally.

The alternative for us in the oversea market is to record your favourite songs on the a CD, play it on the head unit and then the songs are recorded into the hard disk. Once the songs is recorded it can only be erased and not extracted.

Do note that the head unit in the Toyota Alphard is manufactered and tested to accept original CD cater for the Japanese domestic market only. If you are going to put a CD-R (either you buy it or burned your own), there is no gaurantee that it will work well with the original head unit. There has been cases where owner inserted non-original CD and it get stucked in the CD cartridge.

Therefore if you love Japanese songs and your giant comes with many Japanese songs then consider this as bonuses. I lost mine when I was tinkering with the head unit configuration settings! Not a biggie but I just couldn't find those nice Japaense songs anymore as I don't know their titles.


  1. Hi Chan,

    Do u have a Malaysian map installed on ur GPS?

  2. Hi,

    Unfortunately no. The HU doesn't work with local map. The software is designed to work with Japanese map only.

  3. do you think garmin gvn will work for the HU?

  4. Hi

    You can't use the HU to run any of the software/map you find here. You can have an external Garmin unit and use the HU display as the monitor though. You can connect the garmin unit to the RCA plugs behind the center console. That's the best we can do for most giant owner.