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Ressurrection Time?

I fell for the IPOD control thing. Avoid it. The best control for an ipod is an ipod, the user interface is intuitive and fast. I got a unit from Dual that controls the ipod, and its a complete waste of time. I can never find the song I want and I have to push and turn and push and jump through menus. Avoid the whole thing and plug your ipod in with a RCA jack cable or an ipod mini headphone plug adapter and be done with it.
West Marine had the Dual unit on for $99.00 (internet special) around Christmas time so a went for it. I am now in the process of installation and decided to read through this thread first.
One of the things that is not very clear to me is the iPod compatability. The Dual does have a iPod support and a USB port and plays CD's or MP3 but this is where I get confused. The CD is a storage device and the head unit plays this storage device same as the iPod plays it's internal files. So why do I need an iPod player, can I not use one of those little thumb drive storage devices (looks like a Bic lighter with a USB port) and plug it into the USB port and play music stored on it in MP3 format? Someone mentioned they use the USB port to power the iPod while it is plugged in. I can't quite understand the the need for the iPod even though it sounds like I have to get one. I have not bought it yet but I am seriously contemplating getting the Apple iPod 8G to use for music. Can someone please explain why a simple little thumb drive cannot replace the iPod? If it is the player then what is the head unit that plays CD's, is it not a player too. Do I have to buy an iPod?
 
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