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Navigation + Audio Tablet System For Under $500!

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Nexus 7 FJ Cruiser InstallWhen we first installed the iPad after removing our Kenwood head unit in 2011 (See January 2011 issue), our goal was to keep the price tag under $1000. In order to do that, we had to go with an entry level iPad paired with a fairly expensive connector concoction of wiring that worked, but was fickle at best. A lot can change in three years.

Although the iPad Mini is a great option for audio/nav replacement (See March 2013 issue of Tacoma Magazine), a GPS enabled Mini will still run you $459 since you have to upgrade to the cellular version. For 2013 (as part of our Extreme Makeover FJC project) we wanted to prove that you can have a very functional, modern tablet audio+nav install for under $500.

 

To make this a reality, we changed a few things about the way our system is setup. The original amplifier from the 2011 install remains, since it can be had for about $97 from Amazon.com. We also kept the line-level volume control ($59 JL Audio CL-RLC), although with the next addition it may not be necessary. To replace the issue with a dock connector (we went through 5 dock cables in 3 years), we opted to use Bluetooth as our audio interface. For this, we picked up a $59 Belkin Bluetooth kit with a stereo output. Using this means you could do this install without removing your stock radio, and just using the Aux input if you prefer. The last item was a solid mount for the tablet, which runs $49 for the ProClip.

So before we add the tablet, we’re at $264. Our requirements for the table include built-in GPS and Wifi, and at least 16gb of memory. To stay below the $500 mark we had to go to an Android tablet, but didn’t want a $99 cheap knock off, so we headed to Google.com/Nexus to check out the Nexus 7. The $199 16GB model includes GPS, WiFi, the latest Android OS, and all the ‘normal’ features such as a camera, Bluetooth, and several sensors.

Total for this install: $463. Add another $36 for various wiring and other bits you’ll need, and you have a very functional, expandable, and exciting $499 nav/entertainment system.

We’ve been running this setup for a little over two months and it hasn’t let us down yet. Sometimes the lack of cellular data is an issue, but a little planning to pre-downloading off-road maps makes it well worth the $500 in savings over a similar iOS system.

We’re still evaluating several app options for navigation, topo, trails, and entertainment. We’re excited to try the system at the many different events we’ll be attending this year. If you see our FJ, stop and take a look at the system.

More Photos!

Integration Parts.fw
New mount 12v
12v closeup
Proclip mount
New dash
N7 with Belkin
System closeup
N7 with nav
  • Integration Parts.fw
  • New mount 12v
  • 12v closeup
  • Proclip mount
  • New dash
  • N7 with Belkin
  • System closeup
  • N7 with nav
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