KilometerMagazine.com - RNS-E vs Aftermarket Units
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    1. 02-13-2014 11:37 AM #1
      I bought a North American 2013 A3 8P eight months ago, and it came w/o bose, and no nav. I quickly bought a brand new RNS-E 193 from a company in california for $1100. This included the new RNS-E, new 2012/2013 Audi Maps, GPS antenna, and all mounting hardware.

      I just sold the RNS-E this month, and I'm looking to replace it with a unit from Zenec. Here are a list of Pros/Cons for RNS-E 2010+ vs Zenec, plus my personal impressions for both.

      RNS-E Pros:
      -Possible Audi support
      -OEM Fit and Finish
      -OEM Software
      -Tons of dedicated buttons
      -Listen to music w/ screen completely off (many touch screen radios can not do this: The Volkswagen RCD-510 comes to mind.) -
      -Keeps OEM bluetooth (OEM voice dialing is AMAZING! Cars honking, the A/C blasting, Windows open: still works, WOW!)
      -Keep steering wheel controls
      -Keeps Sirius
      -Keeps CD changer and OEM iPod interface (important to some...)
      -DIS displays Navigation information
      -Screen looks fantastic (Truly, really, an absolute improvement over the MK1 unit. I mean, seriously. The difference is dramatic.)
      -Free Traffic (works well on long road trips, not so well around town)
      -Support for Standard SD Cards (That's important to me. Long story involving car accidents and front view cameras...)
      -Great for RHD countries
      -Can be DIY installed

      RNS-E Cons:
      -New maps are very expensive (I paid $210 extra for the OEM maps. And that was with a 25% discount, and tax free)
      -Can't use copies (DVD copies of maps over-works the laser, and things start to overheat inside)
      -No Video support of any kind in the USA (so no iPod video, no reverse camera, no dvd playback, no codec support at all)
      -Unit is Expensive (before buying from an Audi dealer, take your money out of your wallet and burn it. That would be cheaper)
      -Sucks for LHD countries (The control knobs are a bit of a reach, and I prefer buttons to Audi's steering wheel jog dials)
      ​-Installation requires VCDS software and vag-com cable ($250 from Ross-Tech)

      RNS-E Impressions:
      Software is fast, especially the sat-nav. Loads up quickly, and recalculates instantly. The Sat-Nav PIP is great for turn directions whenever you're not facing north (e.g. Map screen oriented north, you are headed south, blue-line curves to the left, PIP arrow pints to the right. Got all that? Cool!). RNS-E is easy to use, with dedicated hardware buttons for most features, so no digging through menus. Consistent look/feel to the user interface (unlike most aftermarket units where every function is a different kink of ugly!). I actually like that it's not touch screen, things stay clean and tidy, and there's no need to windex every other day. In the end, the lack of A/V support caused me to sell the unit. Having owned an MK VI GTI w/ factory RNS-510 Navigation, I found the RNS-E MK2 to be very limiting in terms of Video/DVD support. On a personal note, I've actually had to have my Audi dealer replace one of the knobs from this RNS-E (just broke off one day). Since my car is relatively new, still under factory warranty, and has VERY few miles, I made an appointment with my local Audi service advisor, and had the knob replaced for free. The advisor didn't ask where the RNS-E came from, and I certainly didn't tell him, but the knob is good as new, and I wasn't charged for the service.


      Briefly indulge me while I compare Audi's RNS-E to VW's RNS-510. The main difference between the two (besides on the RNS-510 being a touch screen), is that you could do pretty much anything with the VW unit, it so long as you were willing to pay for OEM add-ons (expensive), or deal with firmware trickery (time consuming), or install 3rd party solutions (trial/error). But if you were willing to put up with any of those, the RNS-510 could do pretty much anything. Conversely, Audi's North American mk2 RNS-E won't play nice, at any price. You get what you get, and that's that. BTW, I know what you're asking yourself, and the answer is no: VW's RNS-510 doesn't work in Audi's A3 8P. Bummer...


      ZENEC
      OK, and now for the Zenec part of the evening. It costs about $1300, on Amazon and Ebay. Comes everything you need for installation, including iPod cable, harness, radio antenna adapter, GPS antenna, Can-bus card, and SD card for UK maps. USA maps are not included, and neither are radio removal keys.

      Pros for NC3131D:
      -OEM Fit and Finish
      -Consistant Software (every menu looks like it was designed by the same person)
      -Classic look to UI (not distracting, or juvenile)
      -Tons of dedicated buttons (including one that is user-programmable)
      -Listen to music w/ screen completely off (w/ dedicated button. NICE!)
      -DIS displays Navigation information
      -Keep steering wheel controls
      -Screen looks just as sharp as MK2 RNS-E
      -Free TMC traffic
      -Support for Standard SD Cards
      -Great for LHD (USA FTW!)
      -Rear View Camera compatible
      -Displays info from OEM Parking Assist when RVC not installed
      -Plays video files from iPod/SD cards
      -Plays DVD movies
      -Has integrated bluetooth Mic (so no need to run new wires)
      -Can be truly DIY installed

      NC3131D Cons:
      Doesn't Keep OEM bluetooth (bummer, I'll miss that lady saying "the number, please?")
      Say goodbye to Satellite Radio (unless you buy a portable unit)
      No support for CD Changer in the Glovebox
      Audi Fanboys will know that it's not a factory installed component (I am an Audi Fanboy!)
      Even more expensive than buying a new RNS-E from Ebay
      USA maps are not included, they are $70
      USA traffic camera data is an extra $20
      The process for downloading new maps is a PIA
      Tech support is in Europe (heaven help you if you ever have to make a warranty claim)


      A few things about the Zenec:
      It's fast, very fast, and responds almost instantly to touch. The menus look very consistent through all the menus, and the UI seems very tasteful and grown up. It has dedicated button for most of the functions, and the rest seem easy to navigate to. It's fully Can-bus compatible so you keep your steering wheel controls, and full DIS support. This means FM, Mp3, and Navigation info all show up on the DIS between the Tach and the Speedo. Overall, the unit looks very fully featured, very grown up, and very impressive. I've yet to take the plunge to buy one, but after doing a quite a bit of research, I've been able to confirm that all of the noted features actually work as promised. I've emailed vendors on Ebay and Amazon, and they've both confirmed that the feature set is as stated. I've also looked up the user manuals from Zenec's site, and all the above features are explained there. I've also compiled a list of websites and youtube videos that support Zenec's claims. I'll paste said list below so that members here can have a chance to do their own research and see how they feel about the Zenec unit.

      Like I said, its the most expensive option currently available, and it does have a few downsides, but I'm really considering pulling the trigger as it has most of the things that I enjoyed about the RNS-E (fast, easy, good software, OEM look, DYI capable), but few of the drawbacks (ability to play DVD, RVC compatibility, iPod Video). I'll certainly post again once I buy/install, but until then, here's what I've found on Zenec's NC3131D so far:



      -There seem to be several models-
      Depending on the region where it's sold (NC3131D-ELS, NC3131D-FEU, etc.). All Zenec units seem to come with region-free dvd players (so says the user manual), so the only difference seems to be the maps that come pre-loaded. The FEU units come preloaded with maps for the European Union, for example. There is no Zenec version that is specific for North America, so you'll have to shell out another $70 for US maps, no matter which version of the NC3131D you get.


      -Website confirming Navigation info on DIS-
      Zenec ZE-NC3131D - Audi A3 Car AV Navigation CD DVD Bluetooth 6.2

      -Website confirming the 4 differenrt models for different regions-
      Zenec - Touch another World : Update-Navigation

      -Zenec Brochure showing all features, confirming Nav directions on DIS-
      http://www.zenec.com/uploads/media/Z...leaflet_EN.pdf

      -Zenec User Manual, confirming dedicated 'ALT' hard-button for Standby Mode, (screen off while playing music)-
      http://www.zenec.com/uploads/media/Z...l_EN_DE_02.pdf

      -Zenec support site, confirming access to North American maps/features for purchase-
      https://zenec.naviextras.com/shop/portal/chooseDevice
      Note: click "Continue as Guest", then click the orange "Zenec", then chose Zenec ELS models, then click continue. You'll now be taken to a screen where you can choose which map regions to buy. The USA maps are $70. That sucks!

      -Zenec availability at Amazon.com-
      Amazon.com: Zenec ZE-NC3131D - Audi A3 Car AV Navigation CD DVD Bluetooth 6.2" LCD Stereo: Everything Else

      -Zenec Demo confirming Navi info appearing on DIS/FIS. Video also confirms ALT button Standby Mode (listening to music with the screen off).
      Navegador zenec NC3131 - YouTube
      Note: Video is in Spanish, but confirms DIS function for Bluetooth Caller ID, as well as Navigation Directions.
      ALT button demo at 4:40, DIS/FIS explanation at 5:40

      -Park Distance Control Integration (shown on MKVI GTI)-
      ZENEC ZE-NC2011D Genel Özellikler Tanıtım Videosu - YouTube
      Note: Jump to 8:40

      -Demo of Bluetooth Caller ID appearing on DIS
      ZENEC ZE-NC3131D Bluetooth Tanıtım Videosu - YouTube
      NOTE: Jump to 1:00

      Ok, it's bed time. ZZzzzz (drool...)

    2. 11-22-2015 05:50 PM #2
      So which would be best for a 2001 s4? Which sounds better? Do you need an external amp?

      Sent from my SM-P600 using Tapatalk

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