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Car Audio

 If you are shopping for a new car stereo, there are several items to consider.

First, make sure the system can play CDs you've burned yourself. Some systems cannot run CDs that were made for a home CD player. When you burn a CD, it is converted into .wav files, which many car stereos do not support. If this is a consideration for you, make sure the stereo you select can play this format of CD.

Next, consider whether you can connect other devices such as an external CD player. Many people buy a car stereo system only to find out too late that you can't connect an external device.

Another consideration is whether the unit will be compatible with the rest of your system. Some car audio systems require proprietary connections, meaning that you may have to stay with the same brand. Sometimes even units made by the same manufacturer are not able to work together. When in doubt, ask the stereo manufacturer or a qualified installation specialist before you buy.

Be sure to check the manufacturer's warranty, as these can vary dramatically between different manufacturers. Check to see what is covered, what is not, and for how long. Warranties are usually 90 days at minimum, but better warranties offer a year or more. Sometimes you can get the warranty extended if your stereo is installed by an authorized equipment dealer. In these cases, it might be worth paying the additional installation charge to get the warranty extended. However, if you typically get new equipment every year or so, this might not make sense for your situation.

Finally, consider the available features, and decide which ones are worth the cost for your needs. The car stereo system will typically come with at least a radio and CD player, but there are optional features. For example, a DAB radio offers better reception and more stations. Consider a multi-disc CD changer or DVD player. If the system offers a USB port, you can play your MP3 player right through the car stereo. Bluetooth capability lets you make telephone calls through your stereo or wirelessly play your MP3 player through the stereo.

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