The JVC KD-PDR30 is a car stereo designed specifically for use with iPods. Its simple design and straightforward interface make it easy to plug in and play--but navigating through iPod libraries is not as straightforward.
The JVC KD-PDR30 features a stylish, silver-plastic-trimmed faceplate with two circular controls on the left-hand side: one is a standard volume dial, and the other is a four-way D-pad similar to one we saw recently on the JVC KD-HDR1. Being specifically designed as an iPod interface (note the PD in the product name), the JVC KD-PDR30 comes with an iPod connector as standard. When installing the stereo in a car, users can run the cable for the connector through the glove box (as we did in our test) or place it elsewhere in the cabin; however, as the iPod controls themselves are rendered redundant when the player is connected to the stereo, the iPod does not need to be accessible while driving. The scenario is different for those connecting other (non-iPod) MP3 players to the JVC KD-PDR30 via its front-mounted auxiliary input jack, as music selection on those players must be performed using the player itself.
The JVC KD-PDR30's display consists of an eight-character monochrome white-on-black LCD panel, with various backlit icons indicating playback source, playback mode, and EQ controls. Six radio-preset hard buttons along the bottom of the screen double as a means of altering the playback mode for CDs and iPod playback and are flanked by the Source Select and Mode buttons. We like the simple layout of the faceplate, and found it easy to program while on the road. In particular, the LCD text display is impressively visible in direct sunlight.
In addition to its primary iPod playback capability, the KD-PDR30 can handle regular CDs and CD/RWs encoded in the MP3 or WMA formats. For the latter, the stereo will show ID3/WMA tag information, with users able to switch between artist/ album tags, track name, and an elapsed time readout by pressing the DISP button on the top-right side of the four-way D-pad. As with many single-DIN systems, the limited screen size of the KD-PDR30 means that tags are nearly always truncated, although an option is available to scroll them along.
The KD-PDR30 features five preconfigured EQ settings (Rock, Pop, Jazz, Vocal, Hip-Hop) as well as user-adjustable settings for bass, midrange, and treble. There is also a Super Bass setting, which sets the stereo to maintain a full bass signal irrespective of audio volume. In Rock and Hip-Hop modes, Super Bass is activated automatically, leading to a very aggressive (and often overwhelming) bass tone.