My Week with Eq: “Plug It In, then Try Again,” or The USB Chronicles

Sections: Infotainment

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The Chevrolet Equinox has a USB port hidden in the center console

The USB port for the Chevy Equinox’s MyLink infotainment system is located here, within a cubby below the center armrest large enough to store a full-size laptop computer upright on its side. Even in the dark, the port is easy to find thanks to the light thoughtfully installed in the cubby.
The port did not recognize the first USB drive I plugged into it, but it picked up on this one right away. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

It’s day two with our Chevrolet Equinox tester, and we’ve found the MyLink system’s USB port seems to have selective taste for flash drives loaded with music.

Having discovered the USB plug on my first day with the Equinox, I decided I’d load up a spare flash drive with some tunes and see how MyLink handled the default Artist>Album>Track folder organization scheme I use on my computer. So I loaded up the majority of a 1 gigabyte stick with music at the end of day one thinking I’d enjoy some of the songs on my commute this morning.

This morning came, and I opened the cavernous under-armrest storage area, where the USB port is located, to plug in the flash drive. This particular drive has an indicator light built-in, so I was able to confirm it was securely plugged-in when the light illuminated. But no dice: MyLink didn’t recognize the drive. It’s not that I got an error message. The USB stick just didn’t show up as a selectable option on the MyLink Home screen, nor did it show up as an audio source.

When I got home from my day job, I decided maybe I’d try re-loading the flash drive with fewer songs and try again. Same story. Could not select “USB” from the Home screen or the Audio screen.

Remembering I had a second, smaller-capacity USB stick, I decided to try it. At a capacity of just 500 megabytes, this stick wouldn’t hold more than maybe 10 albums of songs, tops, but when you consider a six-disc CD changer was quite a luxury up into the early 2000s, that amount of music is still respectable.

Our tester Equinox displays media played from a USB memory stick

Upon loading the data from my second USB stick, the MyLink screen showed this information, and even loaded up a photo of The Wildhearts that did not come from my computer. Perhaps MyLink is smart enough to search out an applicable artist photo if one is available? (Lyndon Johnson photo.)

I loaded some albums on the smaller stick and took it out to the Equinox for testing. Almost immediately after plugging in, the MyLink screen indicated it was loading information from my drive, then within a couple seconds was playing a song from it. It even loaded an image of the band on the display– an image which I know did not come from my computer. Is MyLink smart enough to search the web for an artist image? I should note that two other artists I played displayed different images: One displayed a generic “Rock” genre icon image, and another simply showed the USB icon.

Officially, here’s the info from GM’s “All About MyLink” FAQ with regard to USB connectivity, which helped shed some light on things:

In most cases, the Chevrolet MyLink system will have no problems recognizing your USB drive. However, there are some instances where software on the drive may conflict with software in the system. If this happens, simply use a different USB or try formatting your USB drive before you use it. For a list of the latest supported devices, click here.

We recommend that you have no other files on your device when playing music or downloading any data. Other files could prevent the system from properly downloading an update or create issues while it’s indexing your music. We recommend that your USB thumb drive be formatted before loading music and pictures. Some USB thumb drives have special security or encryption software; this software may prevent the device from being recognized. In addition, the system might not support that format of device (i.e. Microsoft Zune).

I think I might have formatted the 1-gig flash drive as a Linux live stick during my transition from Mac OS X 10.3.9 to Linux Mint PPC in the fall of last year, so perhaps rather than just deleting the old Linux boot files I no longer needed, I instead should have completely formatted the drive using a partition utility. If I have time, I’ll be trying that before My Week with Eq is done.

General Motors provided the Equinox, insurance, and a full tank of gas.

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