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      11-12-2008, 12:52 PM   #1
jlaw
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Is there an official BMW policy on the use of USB flash drives?

I use a 16gb flash drive to store and play MP3's via the 6FL USB port in the armrest. Since BMW so kindly provided me with both an iPod cable AND a USB cable, I figured there would be no problem doing so.

It works fairly well... every now and then it suffers a little hiccup and has to be re-read (just have to navigate up in the iDrive menu and re-select it) but for the most part it's great.

When I was casually discussing how I liked the car with my sales guy and SA at my last visit, they got real upset when I mentioned the flash drive and said that the USB port is for iPods only and using a flash drive could screw up the car and that I shouldn't use it anymore.

This sounds like a load of crap to me. BMW specifically provided a USB cable which has no possible purpose if it were only to be used with iPods. Does anyone know if there is an official policy or bulletin or anything else on this?
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      11-12-2008, 01:10 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaw View Post
I use a 16gb flash drive to store and play MP3's via the 6FL USB port in the armrest. Since BMW so kindly provided me with both an iPod cable AND a USB cable, I figured there would be no problem doing so.

It works fairly well... every now and then it suffers a little hiccup and has to be re-read (just have to navigate up in the iDrive menu and re-select it) but for the most part it's great.

When I was casually discussing how I liked the car with my sales guy and SA at my last visit, they got real upset when I mentioned the flash drive and said that the USB port is for iPods only and using a flash drive could screw up the car and that I shouldn't use it anymore.

This sounds like a load of crap to me. BMW specifically provided a USB cable which has no possible purpose if it were only to be used with iPods. Does anyone know if there is an official policy or bulletin or anything else on this?
Kind of stupid since the only way to transfer music to the HDD in the car is to do it from a CD or from a flash drive connected to the USB port in the glove box. I can't imagine the USB port in the armrest being any different. I was planning on buying a flash drive myself for the same purpose. Do you leave your flash drive in the armrest all the time. I was wondering if a flash drive would fit plugged in to the USB port with the armrest down. Looks like there isn't much room for the flash drive to be plugged in vertically there.
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      11-12-2008, 01:43 PM   #3
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What about the USB port in the glovebox?

IIRC the owners manual correctly, the USB port in the armrest is for portable music players (like the iPod), and the USB port in the glovebox is for flash drives, etc. I don't know why it would make a difference (other than the armrest providing power to the iPod).
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      11-12-2008, 03:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HIS4 View Post
Kind of stupid since the only way to transfer music to the HDD in the car is to do it from a CD or from a flash drive connected to the USB port in the glove box. I can't imagine the USB port in the armrest being any different. I was planning on buying a flash drive myself for the same purpose. Do you leave your flash drive in the armrest all the time. I was wondering if a flash drive would fit plugged in to the USB port with the armrest down. Looks like there isn't much room for the flash drive to be plugged in vertically there.
I have a Corsair Flash Voyager which I feel is on the large side for flash drives and the armrest closes fine with it plugged in vertically. I was using the extension cable at first but didn't like having it flailing all over the storage area.
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      11-13-2008, 03:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HIS4 View Post
Kind of stupid since the only way to transfer music to the HDD in the car is to do it from a CD or from a flash drive connected to the USB port in the glove box. I can't imagine the USB port in the armrest being any different. I was planning on buying a flash drive myself for the same purpose. Do you leave your flash drive in the armrest all the time. I was wondering if a flash drive would fit plugged in to the USB port with the armrest down. Looks like there isn't much room for the flash drive to be plugged in vertically there.
Us 335'ers have been using the flash drives as well. They do fit fine in the armrest and MOST brands will work. There were a few off-beat brands that my '08 335 won't recognize.
BTW- whoever told the OP that is a complete dope.

Sorry for coming to the ///M board but I'm about to pull the trigger and get another M3 soon!
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      11-13-2008, 03:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canesr1 View Post
Us 335'ers have been using the flash drives as well. They do fit fine in the armrest and MOST brands will work. There were a few off-beat brands that my '08 335 won't recognize.
BTW- whoever told the OP that is a complete dope.

Sorry for coming to the ///M board but I'm about to pull the trigger and get another M3 soon!
Cool! How do you search through the flash drive via idrive? Does it give it the same options as the iPod like Artist/Song/Album search? Does it recognize m3u playlists?
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      11-13-2008, 04:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaw View Post
I use a 16gb flash drive to store and play MP3's via the 6FL USB port in the armrest. Since BMW so kindly provided me with both an iPod cable AND a USB cable, I figured there would be no problem doing so.

It works fairly well... every now and then it suffers a little hiccup and has to be re-read (just have to navigate up in the iDrive menu and re-select it) but for the most part it's great.

When I was casually discussing how I liked the car with my sales guy and SA at my last visit, they got real upset when I mentioned the flash drive and said that the USB port is for iPods only and using a flash drive could screw up the car and that I shouldn't use it anymore.

This sounds like a load of crap to me. BMW specifically provided a USB cable which has no possible purpose if it were only to be used with iPods. Does anyone know if there is an official policy or bulletin or anything else on this?
What? Your CA/SA is as high as a kite.
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      11-13-2008, 04:37 PM   #8
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Just get one of these.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136228


They come in 160gb, 250gb, 320gb, qand 500gb. Ranging in price from $80 - $180.

I have a black 250gb and its amazing. Absolutely love it, and they run off the power from the USB. No external power source needed.

Plus, then you could store up episodes of Top Gear, movies, or a rediculous amount of music. Whichever suits your fancy.
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      11-13-2008, 04:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateBMW View Post
Just get one of these.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136228


They come in 160gb, 250gb, 320gb, qand 500gb. Ranging in price from $80 - $180.

I have a black 250gb and its amazing. Absolutely love it, and they run off the power from the USB. No external power source needed.

Plus, then you could store up episodes of Top Gear, movies, or a rediculous amount of music. Whichever suits your fancy.
Are you using this in your car? Reading through some E90 posts, it appears that the USB port does not have enough power to startup the drive. That drive was one of the ones that people tried and didn't work. There were a lot of others that were tried and didn't work. I think only a few got actually portable hard drives to work and it was intermittent at best. That's why I decided to look into flash drives.

Here's the post I read through

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96309
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      11-13-2008, 05:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HIS4 View Post
Are you using this in your car? Reading through some E90 posts, it appears that the USB port does not have enough power to startup the drive. That drive was one of the ones that people tried and didn't work. There were a lot of others that were tried and didn't work. I think only a few got actually portable hard drives to work and it was intermittent at best. That's why I decided to look into flash drives.

Here's the post I read through

http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96309
Wasn't aware of that issue. I figured since it was powered by only the USB cable it would of been fine.

Odd that the M3 USB port doesn't provide as much power.

I also haven't tried to use it in a M3 yet. But for all other applications, its worked just great.
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      11-13-2008, 05:09 PM   #11
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I'm curious if some of the drives that didnt work would work with the new updated idrive system?
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      11-13-2008, 06:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateBMW View Post
I'm curious if some of the drives that didnt work would work with the new updated idrive system?
I don't think it has anything to do with the idrive system. It's the limitation of the amount of current available through a USB port. I believe it is 0.5 amp max. These external hardrives draw less than that at their steady state but at startup, there is a large draw to get the motor started and that draw is typically larger than what is available. That's why if you read through the thread a lot of guys are saying the drive light is on but the motor is not spinning. There just isn't enough juice there to startup the drive. When used on a computer, the drives are typically supplied with a 1:2 USB pigtail so that you can connect to 2 USB ports at the same time and doubling the amount of current available.
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      11-14-2008, 01:05 AM   #13
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The owner's manual specifically says not to hook up external hard drives to the USB port.
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      11-14-2008, 03:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankzlin79 View Post
The owner's manual specifically says not to hook up external hard drives to the USB port.
Already knew that. The real question is why. How does it differ from a high capacity flash drive or an iPod since an iPod is considered a storage device too? My previous explanation is the only possibility I can think of.
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      11-14-2008, 09:37 AM   #15
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the previous post is correct... it's the startup current to spin up the drive that is actually quite high momentarily and USB just won't cough it up, as it has current limiters.

But flash drives are absolutely no problem and should be the way to store all your tunes and movies. BTW, you could use an HDD like the newegg product and plug it into the power port in the 09 armrest console... it could be done that way.

And I think the CA/SA are nuts on getting upset about a flash drive... if you can't plug an flash drive in... then what the hell else would the USB port be for....?
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      11-14-2008, 09:42 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HIS4 View Post
I don't think it has anything to do with the idrive system. It's the limitation of the amount of current available through a USB port. I believe it is 0.5 amp max. These external hardrives draw less than that at their steady state but at startup, there is a large draw to get the motor started and that draw is typically larger than what is available. That's why if you read through the thread a lot of guys are saying the drive light is on but the motor is not spinning. There just isn't enough juice there to startup the drive. When used on a computer, the drives are typically supplied with a 1:2 USB pigtail so that you can connect to 2 USB ports at the same time and doubling the amount of current available.
+1 Very informative.

Thank you for sharing this. I wasn't aware of the 1:2 pigtail to get the spindel turning.
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      11-14-2008, 10:08 PM   #17
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yes I keep a 4GB small usb drive in there all the time, fits fine. works fine. holds plenty of music.
also kept same usb drive in my 335 for a year and it worked fine.
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      11-15-2008, 06:09 PM   #18
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Big difference between external hard drive like the WD passport and flash drive. External hard drives have a platter inside, that spins at various rpms. This obviously, requires more current to run. A USB flash drive, has no moving parts inside, and therefore, requires less current to run.
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      01-21-2009, 11:03 PM   #19
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Any idea why I can play music from my flash drive in the USB port in the armrest but not from the glove box? It doesn't show any USB connected when it's in the glovebox, but my flash drive lights up.
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      01-22-2009, 08:25 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C17MooseDriver View Post
Any idea why I can play music from my flash drive in the USB port in the armrest but not from the glove box? It doesn't show any USB connected when it's in the glovebox, but my flash drive lights up.

The one in the glove box is to go and save music in your harddrive. It is not for playing music, but rather to download.... Hope this will help...
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      01-26-2009, 03:08 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateBMW View Post
Just get one of these.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136228


They come in 160gb, 250gb, 320gb, qand 500gb. Ranging in price from $80 - $180.

I have a black 250gb and its amazing. Absolutely love it, and they run off the power from the USB. No external power source needed.

Plus, then you could store up episodes of Top Gear, movies, or a rediculous amount of music. Whichever suits your fancy.

I have that drive for my laptop and it won't play in the car. Not enough power to drive it.
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      01-26-2009, 03:21 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateBMW View Post
+1 Very informative.

Thank you for sharing this. I wasn't aware of the 1:2 pigtail to get the spindel turning.
Yeah, this is definitely the issue with external hard drives, not enough current. Unfortunately, because there is only one USB port, using a pigtail is not possible.

Gotta stick to a thumb drive.
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