CD Changers; do people still use these things?
A CD changer is basically a Compact Disc player capable of holding multiple discs. The advantage of the CD changer in the car is the ability to switch CDs while driving. You don't have to take your eyes off the road or fumble around for discs. Most CD changers hold between 5 to 10 discs, but there are models that will hold up to 12 discs.
The CD changer itself is a large box is that usually fastened out of the way, either in the trunk or under a seat. The changer is then controlled by either a compatible head unit or a navigation system that comes with the CD changer itself.
Advanced CD changers can allow naming of discs so your head unit can give you an in-dash run down of exactly what disc is playing, including titles of songs, timing and other information. CD changers should be installed so the wires are hidden and not in the way when driving.
Less expensive changers can cost as little as $130 by brands like Boss who specialize in budget gear. But don't expect much quality at this price point. The good stuff starts at a slightly higher price point of only $150 with brands like Kenwood, Sony and Pioneer leading the way. For the no compromises option in CD changers, look for the Kenwood KDV-C810, 10 disc DVD changer with MP3 playback. You can play movies for the kids in the back seat and then effortlessly switch to your music library burned onto a rewritable DVD when they fall asleep. You'll pay a lot more for this DVD changer but 10 DVDs gives you the ultimate in capacity with over 40Gigs of media at the tips of your fingers.
CD changers were popularized in an era just prior to the cheap and easily re-writable optical media. Their popularity as the only option for musical mass storage has waned since we can now burn in excess of seven CDs onto one CDR as MP3s. The added cost and inconvenience of placing these units make them an item only for the dedicated user. DVD changers are still a little too expensive for mass appeal, but they make an obvious next step for anyone adding a mobile video dimension to the car stereo system.