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RNS-E Nav vs. aftermarket

3319 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  ScottWells
How does the Audi RNS-E nav system (that I'm about to install tomorrow), compare to those from Alpine and Pioneer? I've used the Pioneer (Avic-D1), and it by far sucked. The Alpine NVE 875a was the best one that I've used so far. Just curious what you guys out there think.
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I think the strength of the RNS-E (and the reason why I went this route) is OEM integration, not the features or usage. Support for DIS and SD cards, OEM phone integration and the Audi look and feel are features aftermarket systems don't offer. XM traffic, support for movie or MP3 DVDs, multiple optical drives (or flash ROM to store map data while listening to audio CDs) are missing features, some of those may come with a future software update.
I personally dont think there is any competition for an audi... I mean the pioneer and alpine are great in there own way (ease of use, cool software) but they lack the integration that the RNS-E has. Its made for the audi for gods sake!
I'm not in any way downplaying the Audi, but what I've always noticed from stock GPS systems is that their maps aren't all that great and yes simple things like XM traffic seem to me like an easy thing to put in. Also other items like actually saying a major road (like i95), instead of "freeway" are things I look for.
A friend of mine owns a Mercedes Benz C 220. With an Pioneer Avic X1r
He was telling me about it how great it is, nav, radio, cd ...

When I got a look at it, it was not "in its place" in the benz. didn't fit in the interior, way too flashy.
nav maps are good, but not outstanding and do not give alot of information.

when I told him I did a double din mod, and how much it all costs for an oem device in my A6, he said i was nuts. Until he came along on a ride to the beach :) .

He admitted that his pioneer was childsplay compared to the RNS-E.
perfect integration, oem-look and feel, ....

That thing is really worth every Euro :)
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Audi Navigation Plus was awarded #1 for 2005, if I remember good second place was Accura system which is also not bad.
I've seen a few aftermarket and OEM nav systems in my time. Keep in mind...that I've had the OEM Nav+/RNS-D (CD-based)...and it was a good setup for a MY2000/2001 audi...but the RNS-E is 10x better.

2005 Pacifica (DaimlyerChrysler):
My wife drives a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica (with DVD-based Nav - an OEM from an Alpine system)....and it's pretty cool....but the colors on the screen are no where near as cool as the RNS-E.

2005 Volvo S40:
My buddy just got one and with the DVD-based nav (screen folds up from the center dash - pretty cool)...but the graphics weren't that impressive (just black and white) and couldn't navigate via using a commercial phone number etc. It did have some cool nav controls on the steering wheel. If you were to put it into perspective, it's really Volvo's first OEM nav you have to start somewhere.

As for the aftermarket Kenwood and Alpine ...and even the Garmin systems on the market....most of the folks on this board took the plunge with the RNS-E because:

- OEM integration (instrument cluster, bose speakers, CD changer, phatbox..etc...etc)
- It is a killer "platform" for adding other A/V devices (DVD player, TV Tuner etc (OEM or not))
- Few aftermarket headunits (let alone OEM) allow you to insert two SD memory cards for playing MP3's....a very cool option.
- Navigating the menues in the RNS-E are really sweet
- Adding an aftermarket setup to your Audi.....kinda "cheapens" my honest opinion. I hope I didn't offend anyone with this statement...but I've only seen a few aftermarket double-din installs in the B5/B6 A4/S4 or C5 A6 platform...that look decent....and you'd need to be a custom installer to really get the "look" to look right.
- Adding the OEM BT a definite bonus...can't really say that about too many aftermarket systems.
- Resale value. Consider this....the aftermarket system will depreciate pretty fast....much faster than the OEM system.
- Selling your car with the RNS-E installed...will probably improve your resale value....while the aftermarket system....will hurt it.
- Adding the RNS-E to a 2000 or 2001 B5 or C5 car...will allow you to get the look/feel of the electronics in the C6 A6 or D3 A8. Pretty cool.
- Due to the knowledge base on this have a 24x7 support site at your a growing community of aftermarket adaptors/connectors coming into the market...(i.e. Dietz etc)

....ok....just some stuff off the top of my head. Hope this helps.

Happy [OEM] navigating!!

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I've owned the Acura and Lexus navigation systems (still have the Acura in our MDX), and I evaluated the Garmin C330 and TomTom GO before settling on the RNS-E for my S4. I'll provide what info I can, though it's not quite what you're asking for.

As far as aftermarket vs. OEM in the Audi, without hesitation I'd say go OEM. The aftermarket in-dash units really don't look seamless at all based on the pics I've seen, and the portable units like the TomTom and Garmin really look out of place when they're mounted in the car. Plus, I never felt comfortable leaving it sitting out when I parked the car, so there was always this routine to mounting and unmounting it...and people complain about having to dismiss the nag on the RNS-E! Anyway, the level of integration provided by the RNS-E is's just MEANT to be there. The lighting matches the interior lighting of the car, the DIS shows info from it (MP3 info, satellite radio info, and navigation directions), etc.

As far as how the Audi nav stacks up against the competition, there are pros and cons. On the positive side, it has a very nice, anti-aliased display with 2D and 3D views available. From a feature standpoint, it has something I'd wanted for sometime, "find POI along the current route". This is handy on a long trip when you get hungry and want to know what's ahead of you. Also, MP3 playback from SDs is fantastic! On the negative side, it would definitely benefit from a touchscreen. The click-rotary interface is very cumbersome when you're trying to enter a destination, even with the paring down of letters as you enter the info. I know some folks have stated that it doesn't suffer from the fingerprint issue of touchscreens, but they're pretty good at making screens these days that don't pick up or show fingerprints almost at all. It was never really an issue in my Lexus, and it's not much of one in our Acura.

All in all I'm really happy with the RNS-E. In fact, if they'd just fix the MP3 randomizing bug and send more interesting/relevant MP3 and XM info to the DIS when I'm listening to music, I'd be beyond elated with it.

Bottom line, go with OEM.
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