We haven’t talked much about car audio around here because lets face it, smartphones are getting so good most of us connect them to our vehicles via bluetooth and forget about the dated deck our car came with. If audio entertainment companies are going to exist in 2015, they are going to have to not only innovate, but support smartphone companies now entering into the automotive arena with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That is where the new Kenwood Excelon DDX9902S ($950) and DDX9702S ($900) come in to play.
At CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas this past January, we spoke with one of the Kenwood reps who alerted us to what was coming from brand later this year. Fast forward to today, Kenwood introduces two new flagship multimedia units that are jam packed with enough goodies to make you reconsider upgrading your stock deck.
The DDX9902S and DDX9702S are currently the only aftermarket receivers equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that allow users to switch between connecting an iPhone or Android-based phone without having to manually change settings or reset the unit. This enables multiple drivers of the same vehicle to plug in the phone of their choice and enjoy their entertainment options and driver-centric apps.
Once a smartphone is plugged in, voice recognition and voice playback become the primary means of controlling audio and entertainment from the smartphone. With Apple CarPlay, Siri enables users to control, read and reply to messages and more by simply speaking, and provides access to music, podcasts, and Apple Maps for full-featured, voice-controlled navigation. With Android Auto, Google voice actions let drivers and passengers play music selections, get driving directions and hear turn-by-turn navigation, while informative Google Now cards highlight location- and preference-aware information at the right time.
The two double-DIN DDX units are designed to be the center of a vehicle’s entertainment and information system. A large, 6.95-inch resistive touch display puts navigation, back-up camera view (camera required, sold separately), and a wealth of audio / video entertainment options at the driver’s fingertips. Each is equipped with Bluetooth technology to enable handsfree phone conversations as well as playback of streaming media from a Bluetooth-enabled phone or media device.
Both units also feature built-in HD Radio, an HDMI input with MHL support, and DVD playback. They are also SiriusXM-Ready, connecting to the latest SiriusXM SXV300 Connect Vehicle Tuner featuring enhanced functionality such as album art, TuneStart and TuneScan (sold separately, subscription required). In addition, native control of Pandora and iHeartRadio provide an integrated entertainment interface when using a connected smartphone.
These units take us back to the countless years reporting from car & truck audio shows like Hot Import Nights and Truckin’ Nationals. Both of the new Kenwood units show us why upgrading your vehicles multimedia system is still a great option in todays mobile world. Plus, they keep our hands where they need to be, off our phones and on the wheel!