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2017 Q7 RSE - Review, Horrible Rear Seat Entertainment System

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2017 Q7 RSE - Review, Horrible Rear Seat Entertainment System

 
Old 03-04-2016, 10:19 PM
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Default 2017 Q7 RSE - Review, Horrible Rear Seat Entertainment System

Hi all, I posted this is a different forum and realized afterwards that I should have posted it here. Apologies...

I'm a brand new forum member and the 2017 Q7 is my first Audi. As a high-tech guru (according to all my friends), I am extremely pleased with this wonderful piece of engineering. It rides and drives exceptionally well and I truly appreciate all the settings and features of my Prestige model. I got every option but the B&O - high end audio in a SUV is money spent better elsewhere.

However...

A critical portion of my decision to purchase the Q7 was the entertainment system for rear seat passengers (my kids!). The dealer didn't have any RSE devices in stock or for me to look at / play with. Therefore I got VERY specific with my questions. Will the RSE play DVDs? I asked twice as this was truly a critical requirement for our family of 5. The dealer "checked" and then responded in the affirmative. "Are you sure?" I asked - "Yes it will" was their response. Sadly, their information was inaccurate - relying on previous year's models for info I guess.

The "disk changer" in the glove box turned out to be a single disk player that can only play CDs or DVDs. Movies only play to the front MMI screen when the car is stationary (kinda makes it hard to get anywhere) and in no way is it possible to play them on the RSE panels conveniently mounted yet removable from behind the front seats.

If you break the law and rip a DVD to an SD card, it is possible to copy the movie from the SD card slot to the tiny JukeBox (10GB) and then play one of the few movies you can store there to the MMI directly from the JukeBox. It is not possible to copy a DVD movie from the disk drive directly to the JukeBox (as it should be, legally). Again, no movies can be played while the car is moving.

All that is a mute point as who sits in a car and watches a movie? The goal of any entertainment system in a vehicle is to entertain the occupants NOT involved in driving the vehicle.

As it turns out each RSE panel is independent and totally separate from the MMI system up front. Despite the RSEs sharing the same network WiFi connection as the MMI, despite the RSEs each pairing to the car's BlueTooth system (hoping for at least some audio over the car's speakers from the RSE), the RSEs only "appear" as Media sources to the MMI but nothing more. No MMI sources can be played on the RSEs and no RSE content can be played on the MMI screen or speakers.

I've done extensive research in the last few days, speaking to Audi's Customer Experience team, regional trainers, and from my perspective NONE of them have ALL the correct info about the RSE system. Some suggested the copying of DVDs to SD cards - "I do it all the time" I was told. Hmm... Some quoted one number for the capacity of the SD Card slots, another quoted half that amount (64 vs 32 GB). One suggested I could plug a DVD USB drive into the USB port of the RSE and play a movie that way. Nope - tried that.

Audi expects us all to abandon the hundreds of DVD movies we've purchased over the years and instead signup for a streaming service and then pay AT&T for the wireless gigabytes of data every month just to watch movies that we already own.

Oh wait, there's more... Audi says that the panels can send data (Miracast) from one panel to the other when the 2nd panel has been placed in "Listen" mode. Tried that. The picture is a bit jittery and the audio is WAY out of sync with the video on the RSE that is actually streaming the moving over the Internet. Also, the audio only comes out of the RSE that is mirroring the primary streamer. (Still following me?). So the person actually operating the RSE that is streaming the movie gets no audio from their panel and the audio they do hear comes from the mirroring panel and that is out of sync with the image they are watching... The 2nd RSE panel has the audio and video sync'd. Whoopee.

But wait - these are independent RSE panels! That means they can each stream their own movie over the Internet! Let's see - two high-bandwidth streams coming into the car's hotspot, feeding streaming Netflix of different movies to each RSE panel... Yes folks that's a LOT of data in a moving car with the cell signal trying to keep the streaming buffer full so the picture won't flicker. That's enough data streaming to keep your monthly AT&T bill larger than you ever thought possible. Audi's "plans" for wireless AT&T Audi Connect data, and HotSpot data are entirely separate too! That's an entirely different story for a different post...

There are two ways of sharing screens. Miracast is the out of lip sync mirroring system; the second way works like this: Either panel can see the other panel's content as source material so a first panel user can browse and view the contents (music, photos, movies) of the other panel (and this can go either way even at the same time! Talk about confusing...) So, if you have a movie (you know, one of those "copied" to an SD card like Audi recommended) inserted into one RSE panel, the other RSE panel can actually play that same movie on its screen (too bad they start independently and now everyone is FORCED to wear headphones. Funny how when something dramatic or funny happens in a movie you hear it first from one viewer and then moments later the other viewer reacts... gets annoying after a while.

The RSE panel memory is also VERY small... just a few Gigabytes. Heck, we can buy a 64GB USB stick for $20 almost anywhere... Audi under-spec'd this system in every way possible - the RSE price is so WAY out of line with current technology. So plan on an SD card in each panel.

Have you got the idea of how hard this would be for kids 4-8 years old who are easily placated with a fun, age appropriate, movie when you have to make that twice for 2 hours weekend drive twice a month to see Grandma? The number of actual screen steps required EACH TIME to enable all this "entertainment" on both screens is certain to either frustrate your kids to the point that you have to pull over, get in the back, and get it all working for them, - or - it will make them into tiny computer geniuses that scare you for their skill set in front of a computer when they are just 5 years old!! I'll take a DVD disk drive in the front dash, and a simple remote in the back for them to make their familiar selections (like the home DVD player) any day over this nightmare. The best systems from most every other car manufacturer actually let you stop the vehicle and see the movie screen on the front car screen so you can make the choices for your car seat kids without having to exit the car and do it from "back there".

So - what are parents to do to bring this "state of the art - Truth in Engineering" rear seat entertainment system up to the same level that any Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, GMC Yukon, Chevy Suburban - oh heck, I could write about any family mover with a rear seat entertainment system... ??? It goes like this:

1. Purchase a DVD or a DVD/BluRay player from Amazon for about $200;
2. Purchase the 12 VDC adapter for the player as this car doesn't seem to have a 115 AC plug anywhere;
3. Purchase a HDMI splitter (one input, two outputs);
4. Purchase 3 HDMI cables (get em from Monoprice.com - much cheaper than in a store);
5. Purchase a miniplug to miniplug audio cord (monoprice has those too);
6. Plug the DC adapter into the 12V plug under the rear-seat AC controls
7. Plug one HDMI cable from the DVD player into the input of the HDMI splitter;
8. Plug a HDMI cable from the output of the splitter into the HDMI input of the RSE panel, repeat on the other panel with the last HDMI cable;
9. Plug the miniplug from the DVD player's line out or headphone out into the AUX jack under the armrest in the front seat center console;
10. Try to position or mount the DVD player in a place where it won't get kicked around - velcro to the 2nd seat floor hump?
11. Manage all the cables so the kid's feet don't yank the cords and create problems while you are trying to drive the car ("Mom - something's wrong with the movie...");
12. Set the car audio on AUX and adjust the volume of the movie so that the 3rd row passengers can hear as well as see the movie being played - at least that way the driver can adjust the volume as needed;
13. Proceed to let the kids fight over which movie to watch!

A slight variation on the above would be to nix the HDMI splitter and daisy chain the signal from player to panel to panel. Plug the DVD player into one panel's "HDMI IN", then plug a second HDMI cable from the first panel's "HDMI OUT" to the second panel's "HDMI IN". I haven't tried this, but I would expect a delay between panels. Better to split the original signal so that the timing is exact on all panels.

Or - maybe better yet, forget the $1,900 for the two RSE panels altogether. Buy two portable players, forget the splitter, and just let each kid have their own player for their own RSE screen. Those really tiny portable player screens will only frustrate the 3rd row seat kids... it's really a no-win scenario.

Or just buy a different family mover... (Wish I had not bought the car actually because of this nightmare - wife ACTUALLY asked me if I was taking the car back...groan)

Get the picture? I've had worse nightmares, but not many.

There are a ton more things I could write about the RSEs - some nice, such as getting my Google email (if I was riding back there) or playing other Google apps. But if I didn't have kids I doubt I would have a need for a RSE at all - after-all, adults in the back seat usually like to be engaged in conversation with adults in the front seat... And, do I really want my young kids playing with my Google account or picking movies off Netflix that I can't even approve of first?

Audi could not have screwed this RSE option up any worse except if they simply didn't offer one at all. They offer this option because families demand it, but when it's so poorly executed why bother? Even the dealership, from management to service personnel, were all wide-eyed surprised to learn of this Audi engineered mess. It saddens me that the dealers don't know what they're selling because corporate can't even get it straight themselves and are doing a lousy job of training the sales team. Demos of the RSE are nonexistent, maybe because they don't want families to know about this dilemma before they make a purchase decision I guess. If they did know the truth, then families would probably look elsewhere for their soccer-mom vehicle and avoid this otherwise incredibly outstanding SUV in the first place!

Suggestion? Audi could install a streamer on the video disk player in the glove box that would stream the movies to the RSE panels over WiFi.

Or, rewrite the somewhat disappointing MMI user interface software to allow the streaming to happen in the first place (from DVD drive to both RSE panels automatically) - including having a default startup feature in the RSE panels so that they automatically start playing the movie in the DVD Drive without Little Einsteins kid intervention.

Or, (and this one is TRULY my favorite suggestion) create an adapter frame that an iPad snaps into that allows the best OS and best tablet to connect to the car. At least that way the kids could play the movies they installed themselves in the iPads and not stream anything at all. Or they could play the countless games they already have on those iPads.

Android? Really Audi? Kids use iPads, period.

--------------
MB 2015 S550
MB 2013 ML350 (retiring soon)
MB 2010 S63 (retired)
Lexus 2008 430LS (retired)
GMC 2009 Yukon Denali XL (retired)
plus about 25 or so more in my 46 years of driving
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Old 03-05-2016, 04:26 AM
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This is a phenomenally thorough review. What is most frustrating is that the original concept for the RSE that you see videos for communicated with the MMI. Somehow they came up with this instead. There is no Out on the DVD player either. If there were some sort of out, then you could maybe have an aftermarket solution or at least save the money on the DVD player and run a cable (still insane).

I agree this wasn't well thought out for people with smaller kids. My kids are 8 and 12 so they just watch YouTube and love it. However, it is silly that the DVD player doesn't have some sort of Chromecast type option.

What I don't get is what the people in Europe and other places have been doing. I would have thought there would have been so much complaining about this that there would have been a solution by the time these cars headed to the US. I guarantee that later iterations of this vehicle will fix the problem. Unfortunately, I don't know that a simple software update could fix things for us.

The most depressing thing is that if the DVD problem had been properly taken care of this would have been an excellent system.
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Old 03-05-2016, 05:00 AM
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My kids are going to hate me for ordering this car. They have a ton of dvd's that they watch on our X5's smaller 5-6" screens with BMW dealer installed independent dvd players in seat backs which can be shared. Still a far better option even though a bit bulky back from 5 years ago !

Audi made a horrible mistake and I agree that's why no one has info on it

The only other option I see would be to rip your dvd's to a wifi enabled external storage drive and use that to stream movies to iPads or android tablets.

But who has time for that ?

No one in their right mind will pay AT&T (or anyone else) to stream movies

This plus the fact that we have to pay $750 to Audi for 30 months to use traffic (aside from CarPlay and horrible Apple maps) leads me to believe that Audi's commercial goals trump those over passenger needs
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Old 03-05-2016, 05:26 AM
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Default They do things differently in Europe - additional info

Hi baltfan,

Thanks for the compliment. I have been a beta tester for over 40 years, first doing so before MS-DOS - actually in the CP/M days. I'm really good and putting systems through a thorough evaluation and identifying problems and also making solid fix recommendations. I did so for Mercedes on my new S550 - it was a 5 page exhaustive review of how badly they screwed up the UI (user interface) in the 2014-15 S class. Many issues. I could write a similar report for the Audi MMI - there are numerous several navigation errors.

Back to the Q7:
In Europe, they don't have the restriction on watching movies on the screen that can be seen by the driver. Oops! So, if the coding is modified to tell the car's OS that it's a car meant for a European nation that permits this, the MMI shows videos that, surprisingly the 2nd row of seats can see fairly well (ironically the RSE actually blocks the view of the MMI screen a bit from the 2nd row outboard seats, especially for smaller viewers).

So, the RSE was really not intended to watch disks - the Audi engineers just figured in their country anyway, just watch on the front screen. Now I've read on this site and a few others that it is possible to toggle this software setting and have everyone see the movie while the car is moving. That is illegal in the US and as the screen is so obvious for those outside the vehicle one would likely get a ticket fairly soon if they couldn't quickly toggle this on and off. I can do this with a MidCity Engineering module I had installed in my '15 S550 - works great and can be toggled right from two buttons pressed simultaneously on the steering wheel! The main reason I bought this module wasn't to watch movies - it was to allow me to enter a Nav destination address while moving - something I find absolutely necessary - something Audi doesn't block!

The DVD changer can likely be "tapped" by a pro for both audio and video feeds. Those taps could be sent to a device capable of streaming video (won't be cheap, this is a complex process to go from analog video and audio to a digital signal then streamed into the wifi network and subsequently received by the RSEs - or any other computing device capable of playing live streams).

Streaming movies does not work if you don't have a SOLID wireless carrier data connection. Buffering can help, but rural and remote areas are just going to frustrate the viewers with lots of video loss moments, if not a total loss of the stream mid trip. Everyone I know hates to stop watching a movie in the middle somewhere. Double this by streaming to two panels and, well... Prepare to receive stupidity insults as the buyer of this totally screwed up movie playing system in your car.

Regardless of the age of the user, it still wasn't well thought out. Paying data streaming rates to even watch YouTube videos will still hit your wallet. Data packets are all billed by the packet - even if it is a bundle deal. It was nice of Audi to pay for your data streams for the first six months of ownership. Sure, get your kids used to doing this in and around town. Why not? It's free. Ha!

Six months later you have to swallow a rate plan which is very expensive or suffer the wrath of your kids complaining that "gee, the system used to do this". If you ARE an AT&T family share plan customer like I am, you can add the car's hot spot to your plan and then share that data plan with the Q7. I think that's only $10 or 15 per month - very reasonable. I have the 10GB per month plan and I'm already bumping up against it as my wife especially likes to watch videos related to her work on her iPhone 6S Plus. Oh well - time to bump up the plan by 5-10GB per month. Another groan...

Audi could truly fix this if they really wanted to - they have smart engineers. But I truly doubt they will. As for me, I've officially kicked and screamed by writing that review. I am truly tempted to take the car back - I certainly have a legal case as they say it could play DVDs before purchase but as we know now, it simply can not do. But... I honestly love the Q7 for everything else (except those annoying MMI UI issues, but I can learn its idiosyncrasies and move on.
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Old 03-05-2016, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by GK12345EMAIL View Post
My kids are going to hate me for ordering this car. They have a ton of dvd's that they watch on our X5's smaller 5-6" screens with BMW dealer installed independent dvd players in seat backs which can be shared. Still a far better option even though a bit bulky back from 5 years ago !

Audi made a horrible mistake and I agree that's why no one has info on it

The only other option I see would be to rip your dvd's to a wifi enabled external storage drive and use that to stream movies to iPads or android tablets.

But who has time for that ?

No one in their right mind will pay AT&T (or anyone else) to stream movies

This plus the fact that we have to pay $750 to Audi for 30 months to use traffic (aside from CarPlay and horrible Apple maps) leads me to believe that Audi's commercial goals trump those over passenger needs
GK, I couldn't agree more. And yes, your kids will hate you and look at you like you totally disregard what they've come to accept as a "standard" for chauffeuring them around town each day. We have 3 wallets of DVDs, sorted by kid.

In my MB S class, with the DualView option ($750) even the front seat passenger gets to watch a video too (with their own dedicated headset). MB has a 6 disc changer in the dash that offers one movie to any seat. Other seats can also watch that exact same source, no issues, including pushing the audio for it to the car speakers. Additionally, they have a single disc player for the back seat and that source can be sent to either back seat screen, but not the front screen (which is limited to just discs playing from the changer).

I thought about an external streaming box (how about a six-disc changer with streamer built in??) but then I couldn't think of any that have ever been made. And ripping EACH of the movies just so your kids can watch them is a huge waste of time (the process takes about 50-60% of the length of the movie in time). I use AnyDVD to rip videos to a home movie server (Mozaex) and have over 600 movies available on any TV in the house (I'm a systems engineer for a very large home automation integrator in South Florida). So you can use SlySoft's AnyDVD (now from RedFox as of a couple days ago due to legal persecution) to easily rip movies to a digital .iso file. Then you have to convert those .iso files into compatible formats for the car (.mp4 etc). Very time consuming, but it does work.

I guess I'll likely rip 20 or 30 movies to SD cards and then just make the kids watch those over and over. Maybe add a few new movies as they come out, but Audi should NEVER either recommend an illegal practice (ripping) or expect us to pay time and time again to watch movies we already own. ARGH!
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Old 03-05-2016, 06:47 AM
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Thanks for the thorough review! This certainly helps a lot and will save me from wasting money on this seemingly useless and poorly-executed RSE option.

It's quite embarrassing for Audi to proclaim themselves as one of the leaders in the car infotainment tech (and they have succeeded for the most part with the current MMI and virtual cockpit) but only to fail miserably in this shockingly awful implementation of RSE.

We can only hope that at least one day, those who have the RSE preparation in the their Q7s will have the option to add an iPad dock accessory so we can at least use it as a mount/charger for the iPads that our kids will prefer to use anyway. I believe Mercedes has such a dock available for their cars, so it doesn't seem like it will require any big feat of engineering by Audi to produce one.
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:03 AM
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If you have the RSE and hate it, I think you could demand that Audi buy it back from you. That may be the best solution. The video they have online is certainly false advertising.

It is silly for them to say they will take the car back. Just take back the RSE.
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by larryV View Post
Thanks for the thorough review! This certainly helps a lot and will save me from wasting money on this seemingly useless and poorly-executed RSE option.

It's quite embarrassing for Audi to proclaim themselves as one of the leaders in the car infotainment tech (and they have succeeded for the most part with the current MMI and virtual cockpit) but only to fail miserably in this shockingly awful implementation of RSE.

We can only hope that at least one day, those who have the RSE preparation in the their Q7s will have the option to add an iPad dock accessory so we can at least use it as a mount/charger for the iPads that our kids will prefer to use anyway. I believe Mercedes has such a dock available for their cars, so it doesn't seem like it will require any big feat of engineering by Audi to produce one.
Do you mean something like this?
https://shops.audi.com/en_GB/web/zub...-4g0063747d-10
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by mrho888 View Post
Pretty sure that doesn't mesh with the current system. I am sure there will be something though.
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mrho888 View Post
MRHO: Yes - that would be elegant, except it's absolutely not made for this Q7. But... Audi is clearly showing iPad connectivity in the past.

Wonder how much Google paid them to drop the iPad and go with Android?

One more big gotcha... I'll be posting about this soon - If you've elected to set your iPhone on "Use WiFi Calling when possible" under "Phone" in settings, be forewarned that this creates quite a situation in the Q7 if you pair your phone's WiFi to the MMI so you can use the MMI Connect app on the phone. Ugly...
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