18 October 2019

RCD330 review - how I stop using RNS 510

Three years ago, I published an RNS 510 review. To be short, it is a good head unit, but its' navigation and missing Bluetooth connectivity drove me crazy.
My budget was limited, so I decided that 300 EUR is more than enough to get a 2-DIN head unit with most wanted features which will work in VW Passat. At first, I was looking for a head unit with Android as its operating system. But then I found that some people mentioned RCD330. The model name looks like those from Volkswagen's line and after some reading, I got a confirmation. It is an OEM head unit built-in Volkswagens in China, Russia, South America... It has some limitations, but on the other hand, it has some nice features all packed in the head unit with an acceptable price.

You can't buy it from Volkswagen, but you can find RCD330 in different stores (AliExpress, eBay...). There are some different subtypes of RCD330 and my suggestion is to read (at least) sticky posts on Reddit RCD330 subforum to get some important information.
I decided on RCD330 187E which supports Android Auto and CarPlay. The delivery from China was fast - a DHL delivered it only five days from placing an order. I can really recommend a seller Lemon Shark Autoparts Store for fast delivery and accurate information before ordering.

RCD330 supports communications with Volkswagen's CAN bus and changing RNS510 for RCD330 is quite simple. You need to plug only two connectors - Quadlock and antenna. My previous RNS510 installation also needs a connection for GPS antenna and phone.

Cars from the last decade don't need any changes in the gateway. Older can experience battery drain, so check for solutions on the above mentioned forum.
Just to have a clear error log, I remove the Navigation and CD from CAN Gateway Installation List with VCDS.
As I said, it supports communication with Volkswagen, so if you have sensors, it will be shown as before. Besides that, it will also show temperature, get a date/time, works with a back camera (maybe with little intervention) ...

RCD330 looks very similar to other Volkswagen's head units in the same generation. Pretty good color display and touch screen still have to prove over the cold months when cheaper head units usually have problems.
I'm not a sound expert, but the sound in my car didn't change a lot after the RCD330 installation. To be honest, I can't hear any difference.

Potential buyers should keep in mind that RCD330 has some important limitations: missing CD unit, missing its own navigation and missing RDS (Radio Data System) support.
Missing CD unit today isn't a big deal. The navigation can be used with Android Auto, so this won't be a big problem. But missing the RDS feature can be a deal-breaker for people who listen to the radio. To be honest, radio works fine, but part of the RDS system is AF (alternative frequencies list). Almost all radio stations use this feature which helps head units changing between different frequencies for the same station. This is very helpful if you drive in a region full of hills, mountains, valleys... Without AF you have to search for frequencies that really isn't comfortable.

Many websites write that RCD330 doesn't have an RDS at all. On my head unit, some radio stations are displayed with their names. I don't understand why only some don't have a name. And even more strange thing for me - if RCD330 displays a name, why a hell can't it save it to his own memory list. It can save a frequency and memory position for example, but can't save a string it has? Strange, really.

RCD330 has four different modes: Radio, Media, Phone, and App.
Radio was described in the previous paragraph, now it is time to check Media mode. As you can expect it supports Bluetooth, AUX, SD card and USB. For me, Bluetooth is everything I need and it works flawlessly. It connects quick, works without disturbances and sounds good. Hey, it even shows Unicode letters on display (for example Slovenian čšž).
I really like the next behavior - if listening to the podcast (or music) is interrupted before the end(eg. car is switched off), then next time it will start immediately at that position after you start the car.
However, some things could be improved. For example, if a new file on the phone starts to play, the previous source (Bluetooth in my case) can be preselected. Or if you are in Radio mode and start playing via Bluetooth, it doesn't jump to Media (and start playing). And one more - when media is played, it shows timeline, but you can't use the touch screen to move to a random position.
It is also strange to me, why RCD330 stays mute after finished playing media, even if I change to Radio mode?

Phone mode works with my OnePlus 5 as it should. It uses its own microphone, so you don't need to install an external one. Some users comment that this can lead to echo when speaking, but I didn't notice it.

Pressing an App button changes a lot. RCD330 gives control to your Android (Android Auto) or iPhone (CarPlay). In this mode, your phone must be connected with a USB cable and (for example on Android) Android Auto has to be installed on your phone. If Android Auto isn't officially supported in your country, you can still get it, but it is beyond this article. Read more about Android Auto on Google's website.

I have to mention quite a big bug. I'm still not sure if bug belongs to RCD330 or to Android Auto. It shows if a user has his phone connected to Android Auto (App mode on RCD330) and then switch off the car. Next time, the Bluetooth on your phone won't recognize the RCD330 and vice versa. Annoying. The solution is to change from App mode to any other before switching off.

Let's go back from the Android world. On my steering wheel, I found a button with a microphone sign. Originally it serves as a trigger for voice command in navigation on RNS510. But after installing RCD330, it works as a mute button. I took a computer with VCDS and searched for a solution. A small change (one byte) and button's behavior changes to the voice control. This works fantastic with Google Assistant. Now I can listen to the radio and press button on the steering wheel and ask: "How is the traffic to Ljubljana?", "What is the weather forecast for tomorrow?", "Where is the nearest pizzeria?" ... And all that even without "Ok, Google". After I get an answer, the radio (or media) plays as before without any intervention. Super.

Some words about manual (user guide). I'm the kind of person who likes to read manuals. I want to know as much as possible about the products/services I use. It was very hard to find a manual for RCD330. And now I can share a PDF file of the RCD330 manual. Well, the title is RCD340, but that is just different labels for markets.

Conclusion: Under the line, I'm happy with RCD330. It has some bugs, but I can live with them.
If you are in the market for a head unit under 300 EUR, then RCD330 (RCD340 or one of their cousins) are certainly worth a look.
Your comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...

I've been thinking of getting the Lemon Shark RCD330 for my JSW. Thanks for posting your experience!

Iztok Grilc said...

As I wrote, my experience is excellent (and I'm not in any connection with him/them :-)).

Anonymous said...

Kaksen je pa bil strosek uvoza oz. import tax?

Iztok Grilc said...

Septembra 2019 sem plačal 276 evrov. Mislim, da nisem imel dodatnih stroškov, ker je prišlo preko DHLa in je bilo vse že vračunano. Roke v ogenj sicer ne dam, ampak mislim, da se ti nisem zlagal.

exilat said...

i also have one, but the problem that i am facing is inconsistent call quality and it seems to be related to the unit microphone's. the really confusing part is that it is only happening sometimes. and sometimes it is working properly.

Iztok Grilc said...

I rarely have phone calls in the car. But it works surprisingly well on my head unit.

Macheta Pedro said...

I just ordered one, we will see how it goes. But i have a question - how many parking sensors do you have? I have a Alhambra that has 6 in the front and 6 in the back, but on photos of the radio screen, i just saw that this unit displays only 8 sensors. Is this a possible limit, or it adjusts it for your car, that has 12 sensors? And also, do you have a rear camera? If so, did you menage to get it working?

Iztok Grilc said...

I don't know how many sensors have my car :-)
My son took it and can't check it right now.

I don't have a rear camera, but as far as I know, it can set to use it.

Macheta Pedro said...

So, I installed it in my 2015 Alhambra and works flawlessly! All sensors work, no problem. The only issue i have is with Bluetooth. If i play a YouTube video it has a 1-2 s delay. Do you also have this issue?

Unknown said...

Very helpful review.
Only question I have is that a fakra antenna cable splitter is provided. When removing the 2 antenna cables from the car can you put the cables in any order into the splitter or does it have to be in a specific order

Iztok Grilc said...

To be honest, I don't remember. But I can't remember any problems so it was probably provided.

Chandler Burns said...

I installed a RCD330 187E into my 2015 Beetle 1.8T a month ago and everything works remarkably well coming from the RNS315 installed from the factory. The only issues I've been having during this time include the Bluetooth recognition issue you mentioned here (interesting solution by the way, worked in my car too), but I also noticed that the Bluetooth icon in the MFD shows up occasionally when my phone is connected and then disappears after a bit even though the connection never dropped. Do you have any idea why this may be happening?

Iztok Grilc said...

Chandler, I don't have any idea why this problem exists.

Unknown said...

Če prav razumem je ta enota boljša kot RNS510?

Unknown said...

in ali to dela z android navigacija ali je iphone a must?

Iztok Grilc said...

Boljša od RNS510 verjetno po kakovosti ni. Je pa malo sodobnejša - ima bluetooth, Android Auto ...
Po drugi strani pa spet nima RDSa.

Dela pa tako z Androidom (v tem primeru se požene Android Auto) kot tudi s iPhonom (v tem primeru se uporabi CarPlay).

skellysgirl said...

Don't buy from Lemon Shark on ALi I did and received a defective unit. As soon as you touch the volume dial the unit reboots. Ali sided with the seller and gave me 20% refund and left me with a useless device. The seller is a cheat and Ali would not help. Video of the device not working is here https://youtu.be/e1Ujh8i7dNw and I have screenshots of the seller and Ali ignoring my requests.

Please don't lose your money on a shoddy product like i did.