Jensen MP5010K review: Jensen MP5010K

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Relatively inexpensive; station-grabbing tuner; good MP3 CD navigation; auxiliary input; bundled remote.

The Bad Auxiliary input connects in the rear.

The Bottom Line A good deal for the price.

8.0 Overall

Jensen's long tenure as a car stereo manufacturer is evident from the design of the MP5010K, an in-dash CD player (both audio and MP3) and tuner. The most frequently used buttons and controls are easy to find by touch while driving. This unit also has a very handy feature for MP3 CDs: the ability to navigate directly to a track by number. This capability is key when you're dealing with discs that frequently have up to 150 songs on them (the MP5010K supports MP3 CDs that contain up to 255 tunes). Jensen's long tenure as a car stereo manufacturer is evident from the design of the MP5010K, an in-dash CD player (both audio and MP3) and tuner. The most frequently used buttons and controls are easy to find by touch while driving. This unit also has a very handy feature for MP3 CDs: the ability to navigate directly to a track by number. This capability is key when you're dealing with discs that frequently have up to 150 songs on them (the MP5010K supports MP3 CDs that contain up to 255 tunes).

Presets are crucial
Manually tuning the radio was a bit tedious, but the prominent station-seek buttons brought in just about every signal in the area, and overall reception was better than on our reference unit, albeit with slightly edgier sound. You use the 10 identical multifunction buttons that are aligned in a row below the display to access the most relevant controls. In tuner mode, these buttons are presets, giving you 10 stations per band instead of the usual 6, for a total of 20 FM and 10 AM entries. With CDs, these controls act as a 10-key pad for direct numerical track access and disc selection (for use with the optional 6- or 10-disc CD changer). The tuner can scan all strong stations or 10 presets at a time, sampling each station for five seconds. The MP5010K stores 10 strong local stations automatically.

The Jensen has excellent sound quality when playing audio CDs. It can repeat the current track, play all tracks at random, or scan the first 10 seconds of each track (more useful than the tuner's 5-second scan time). You can program 24 tracks on a single CD or 32 tunes from discs in the CD changer. Handy features that are rare on car stereos include a pause button and audible (just barely) rewind and fast-forward controls.

When playing MP3 CDs, the Jensen adds even more features: It displays track, artist, or folder name from ID3 tags. You can easily move back and forth from folder to folder, but you cannot call up a folder by its number or find a track by skipping to it within a folder. (For example, you'd have to punch in 19 to get to the track that comes after the 18th tune in a folder.)

The Jensen's rear-panel RCA auxiliary input is separate from its changer input, so you can connect another external source, such as an MP3 player or a MiniDisc unit, even if you have a changer. We just wish that this input were on the front of the panel, where it would be more accessible. Two subwoofer output jacks each receive the bass from both channels; the subwoofer level can be controlled from the MP5010K's front panel. A 21-button remote control comes standard, but another $50 gets you a 9-button remote that fits on your steering wheel.

Good deal
The MP5010K retails for $280 plus installation fees. Considering the player's perks--such as the auxiliary input, support for a CD changer, helpful MP3 CD navigation, and excellent station-grabbing skills--this is a very fair price.

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