7 DAY FOLLOW UP ON THE ANDROID T8 HEAD UNIT – 5TH GEN 4RUNNER
It’s been about a week since I’ve had the new head unit installed.
If you missed the step by step install on this unit, please go check that out.
As the T8 has gained traction and visibility through different online avenues (Trail4R, Instagram, Facebook, etc) because of its looks, functionality over Entune, and aggressive pricing, I’ve had an influx of inquiries and requests for clarifications on various components of the T8.
I’ve compiled a list of those below and I’ll do my best to explain each and my personal experience thus far.
Let me preface this by telling you that I’m (1) an Apple fan and have zero experience with Android until recently and (2) I’m not the most technical of guys when it comes to audio equipment, so bear with me.
Where to buy?
You can also check out their other accessories for the 5th Gen 4Runner. CarTrim makes a few other common upgrades like a TRD Grille, marker lights, and even the now common Arc-Light (look-a-like) LED Interior Lighting Upgrade.
In any case, they make a bunch of stuff for the 4Runner.
INTERNET FOR DATA
The T8 does not have a built-in internet connection.
If you install applications on the T8 that require data, such as Waze or Google Maps, you need a connection to run those.
To do that, you need to turn your phone into a hotspot. Some mobile carriers charge extra for this service, so I recommend checking with them first so you aren’t hit with outrageous charges the following month.
Of course, anywhere there is wifi, you can connect the unit to it but the minute you leave that wifi, your apps will stop working.
The OEM camera works with the new head unit.
When you purchase the T8, it includes all required harnesses. When you put the 4R into reverse, it will stop any audio that’s playing and show the backup camera.
I will say that the quality of the video doesn’t seem as sharp as the OEM unit – it feels stretched to fill the 9” screen, to me at least.
There may be an option to modify that behavior, but I haven’t stumbled upon it yet.
SCREEN BRIGHTNESS + GLARE
The first batch of T8 units had an issue where the screen was very hard to see, even at night, with the brightness level set to 100. A fix was sent to me by the manufacturer which resolved the issue.
I was informed that all new units already have the fix applied so new buyers will not run into the same issue.
The 9” screen has a glare as showcased in almost every picture. As I mentioned in my original write up for the install, you can purchase the anti-glare film from Amazon and install it to reduce the glare.
The glare hasn’t bothered me enough to go that route yet, so I continue to run the unit as is.
STEERING WHEEL CONTROLS
The OEM steering wheel controls work with the new unit. There is an application on the T8, Steering Wheel, that will allow you to see how each button corresponds to a function. I’ve used the basic buttons without any issues thus far (volume up/down, next/previous track, answer/end call).
The audio quality of the T8 is a small step down when compared to OEM. The T8 has an ‘Equalizer’ application that allows you to change various audio settings and zones, and it works pretty well, but I was able to tell that the ‘umph’ from before wasn’t there.
My wife and friends who have been in the 4R since installing the unit haven’t noticed any change at all, so it is minimal, but there. I’m not entering any audio competitions anytime soon and the other benefits from the head unit outweigh this minor setback.
XM + RADIO
The T8 does not provide connections for satellite/XM radio. There have been a few folks who have downloaded the XM application to the head unit through the Google Play store and access it that way, but that is currently the only method for listening to satellite through the head unit itself.
The radio leaves you wanting more. I find it to have static more frequently than I ever had with Entune. I also have an issue with the display for songs – the alignment is broken so the text overlays itself.
iPhone MIRRORING WITHOUT CARPLAY
Through an application on the unit, EasyConnect, you can mirror what is on your phone to the T8 screen. I haven’t found a need to do that, but the option is there. In this example, I have the Weather Channel app from my phone also displayed on the T8.
This has been a hot topic and probably the most concerning issue for the T8, again for some people, not me.
Yes, the unit only has 2 GB of RAM, but as long as you’re not downloading and launching every application from the Google Play store, you probably won’t run into issues. I run Waze and YouTube at the same time and haven’t experienced any lag or sluggishness. I’d say memory management is the name of the game here.
When your phone starts acting slow, what do you do?
You start to close out unwanted apps or everything, right? You can do the same thing on the T8 by swiping down from the top of the screen and selecting ‘Clear Memory’. Should you have to do this? No, probably not.
Is it a fix to the 2 GB memory limitation?
No, it’s to help manage it. A 4 GB version of the unit is not going to be release anytime soon, if at all, so you have to make do with what you have.
The manufacturer has confirmed that the new unit is not patchable.
The current version of Android OS on the head unit will stay. This poses a lot of security concerns for many folks, but I’m personally not as worried.
The head unit for me is purely for entertainment and navigation. No, really – I currently only have Waze and YouTube installed and I don’t plan on (1) installing any applications to the unit that I would deem sensitive (smart home apps, email, Facebook/IG/Twitter) or (2) having my text messages sent through the unit.
That’s what my trustworthy iPhone is for and since I don’t leave home without it, it’s not any extra burden on me.
The T8 does not allow for the playback of any CDs.
The T8 bundle now includes many options that were not available when I purchased my unit – an ODBII reader, data recorder (which I believe is just a 1080P camera), and the Apple CarPlay dongle.
I haven’t seen any input or review of the ODBII reader. My understanding is that in order for it to be effective, you have to download special applications, such as Torque, from the Google Play store to review data from the reader.
I recently ordered the CarPlay dongle, but cannot vouch for how well it integrates with the unit. I do know the CarPlay dongle is not wireless, meaning you have to plugin your iPhone in order to use it. That being said, when your phone is plugged in, its also being charged.
The manufacturer of the T8, CarTrim, provides a 2 year warranty on each unit.
Overall, I’m still very pleased with the T8. My usage on it is basic and will remain basic. Some of the concerns others have voiced through social media don’t weigh as heavily with me. As long as the unit continues to remain stable and I don’t have any crashing or freezing like I did with Entune, I’ll be happy.