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Parrot Rhythm n Blue Car Stereo

Mon Jul 24, 2006 - 11:38 AM EDT - By James Hromadka


The Rhythm n' Blue has an AM/FM RDS tuner, so it can display additional information about the radio station you're on, such as station call letters and the artist and title of the song currently being played. You can also use RDS for getting traffic alerts in the area.

I've never had an RDS tuner before (not all stations broadcast RDS data), so I was anxious to try out this feature after programming in my favorite stations. The manual that comes with the Rhythm n' Blue is pretty spartan; only fourteen pages for the English language, so only limited information is available. One thing I found annoying is that although there is a full phone pad on the faceplate, you can only store stations in spots 1-6. Hold in a button for a few moments to store the current radio station to memory.

You have to switch to FM2 or FM3 in order to store additional stations, and Lord help you if you want to do that. Switching between FM1/2/3 and AM1/2 is the most user-unfriendly thing you will do with this car stereo. The only way I could find to do it is to press Menu > Tuner > Band, which a real pain to do while driving. It would have been better if repeatedly pressing the Tuner button would simply cycle through the radio bands.

Press the Rewind/Fast Forward buttons to go manually through the radio stations, but annoyingly, it always stops on the next radio station, so it takes a while to go from 87.9 to 107.1 if you don't have those stations stored. Most car stereo tuners just keep going, tuning up or down the dial until you release the button, and the Parrot has no way to turn off the seek feature.

In between the RW/FFW buttons is a Mute button, which is easy to get to. There is also a Display button that shows what RDS features are being used but is of little use otherwise.

The RDS feature is pretty cool. When driving somewhere, my father and I like to play the "what band is this" game with Classic Rock songs, but we don't know them all, so it's nice to know the Artist & Song title. Of course if you're an iPod person with one of the bazillion FM transmitters out there, you don't get that extra RDS information. I noticed that Kensington just released an RDS FM Transmitter ($89.99) that has made my current FM transmitter obsolete. Maybe one day I can see "U2 - Mysterious Ways" on my LCD screen instead of "87.9." Sigh.

CD Player

Thanks to the iPod, I never listen to CDs anymore; in fact, I accidently left one in the car stereo that I replaced (oops). The Rhythm n' Blue can play regular commercial and home-burned audio CDs, as well as data CDs with MP3 tracks on them. Press the Eject button and the faceplate drops down slowly to reveal a hidden CD slot.

I created a regular audio CD and an MP3 CD that had two folders (Rock, Other) with different songs in each folder. I did the MP3 CD that way since iTunes organizes artists and albums into folders and many people that organize their collection manually do something similar. When I burned the MP3 folders to CD, the Rhythm n' Blue put them in a flat list and played every MP3 song it could find on the CD regardless of what folder the song was in.

That can be a feature or a bug depending on your point of view. It would have been nice if the Parrot treated the folders as a hierarchal list similar to when you browse an iPod by Artist or Album, but that would have taken a lot of effort, and to be honest I don't plan on listening to CDs much anyway. If you have the proper ID3 tags on your MP3 songs, the Artist/Song/Album information is displayed. It scrolls slowly across the screen just as the RDS tuner would do.

If you have low-bitrate MP3s (24kb/32/etc) such as old time radio shows (OTR), the Rhythm n' Blue will also play those as well. I tried a few recordings that someone had given me, and they sounded fine.

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Product Info
> Name Parrot Rhythm n Blue Car Stereo
> Company Parrot
> Disc Support CD/CD-R/CD-RW/MP3
> Output 4x45W
> Line Out 4ch x 4V / 4ch x 2V
> Tested With Unlocked Treo 650, SE K750i on T-Mobile
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
> Available
> $349.95

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