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Car CD Players = Thing Of the Past

This week there have been a ton of stories announcing that car CD players are going to become a thing of the past.

Apparently, people are using the CD players less and less; they’re using smartphones, iPods and USB sticks to play music.  So automakers want to get rid of them (CD players, not people) because they’re  expensive and mainly appeal to older drivers.  Makes sense.  I’m in my late 30’s and almost never use the CD player.  The last time I really remember using ours was during a long drive in 2003 or 2004, when I drove 18 hours from Philadelphia to Iowa.  When was the last time you used it in your car?

Ford already has a very cool system called “Sync,” which lets you access music on your iPod or on the internet by using voice commands.

In 2013, Chevy will equip their Sonic RS with the “My Link Touchscreen Stereo.”  No CD player.  Just an aux port, USB port and radio (like you’ve always had); you’ll also be able to use online services by connecting your smartphone.

You remember how eight-track tapes gave us “portable music.”  You may even remember in-car record players (an idea that still puzzles me, how could anyone think bumpy roads would be a good match with the need to keep a tonearm on a spinning platter? But I digress…).  By the 80’s, cassettes made it easier.  Then came CD’s.  Remember how amazed people were that all that music could fit onto a shiny little disc?

Now the idea of lugging around 20 CD’s in the “carrying case” seems so archaic when you can fit thousands of songs onto a tiny little device.

Don’t get me wrong.  I remember 78’s.  I remember having to thread open-reel tape through the machine.  I remember how annoying it was when the 8-track changed in mid-song.  I like records, not for nostalgia, but because of how “warm” they were.  I like CD’s because they contain what are called “WAV” files and I mostly hate MP3’s because the quality is usually bad and offensive to my ears.

That said, you can’t argue with the ease and convenience of MP3’s, iPods and digital music devices.  We make tradeoffs for many things; I’ll gladly trade some quality to avoid having a gazillion CD’s riding around in my car.

Time (and technology) marches on…

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