Another positive feature of the AVN5510's navigation function is its optional split-screen mode, which overlays a zoomed-in window onto the main map, giving drivers a dual perspective of the current location. When approaching junctions, the map automatically displays the window with a close-up detail of the route.
Users can register up to 106 memory points and--more interestingly--10 areas to avoid in the system's memory. Displaying points of interest is straightforward: a press of the Map View button in navigation mode brings up options for displaying POI categories. The AVN5510 offers 8.55 million points of interest, a significant increase over the AVN5500's 6 million.
Customization options for the AVN5510's navigation system are very impressive, with four screens of options, including options for auto-reroute, intersection guidance, and building-shape display for streets in metropolitan areas. We also like the way that the AVN5510 can show ID3- and WMA-tag information at the same time as displaying the map screen.
For digital audio playback, the AVN5510 supports regular CDDA discs as well as discs encoded in MP3 and WMA formats. Navigating digital audio libraries is made very easy by the intuitive touch screen menus that show folder and file information in a clear format. Lacking a built-in hard drive, the AVN5510 and AVN6610 are unable to compete with the Pioneer AVIC-Z1 and Z2 in terms of media storage, but, like the Pioneer systems, the Eclipse unit can be hooked up to iPods via an external module. Add-on modules can also be used to turn the AVN5510 into an HD radio tuner and a receiver for Sirius Satellite radio, although there is no XM Satellite Radio option--a disappointing restriction on an aftermarket system.
The AVN5510 offers the same digital signal processing presets, EQ customization (via 7-band parametric EQ to preference through a touch screen mixer), and acoustic-field customization as the previous-generation models. It also features advanced settings for a separate subwoofer, including options for phase control and woofer level, as well as frequency and high-pass filter settings. Those not satisfied with the system's standard built-in amp's 15w x 4-channel can hook up an external amp to the unit, thanks to three 5V preamp outputs.
With the parking brake engaged, the AVN5510 can be used to play DVD video. To play a movie, car occupants will have to remove the navigation DVD ROM: an extra incentive not to drive with the video playing. Unlike the Jensen VM9312 we tested recently, the AVN5500 does not touch-enable the individual DVD movie menus, requiring users to touch onscreen directional arrows to navigate menus or to invest in an optional remote control.
Without the latter, it can be a laborious process to get a video started (press the screen to get the menu > press the Next button > press the Menu button > use the up and down arrows to select the required onscreen option > press the enter button to make a selection).
With a video playing, playback controls such as play, search, and pause are helpfully available at a touch of the screen. The 7-inch screen delivers rich video reproduction, especially in the wide-screen display configuration.
The AVN5510 improves on the design of the last generation of Eclipse's all-in-one navigation/multimedia systems. Its navigation system is easy to program and easy to follow, while its intuitive disc-based digital-audio interface is equally easy to use. The system's video playback is not as straightforward, but picture quality on its 7-inch wide-screen display is excellent.