JVC KD-BT1 review: JVC KD-BT1

Armed to the (blue) teeth
The star features of the KD-BT1 are its ability to assume nearly all cell phone functions. The system is compatible with no fewer than six Bluetooth profiles (HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRPC, OPP, and SPP) giving it the ability to wirelessly handle everything from voice to music to text messages. To fully test the system, we had to use two phones with advanced Bluetooth capabilities, the Samsung SGH-D807, and the Sony-Ericsson K790a.

Pairing a cell phone with the KD-BT1 is a multistep process mostly controlled through the buttons on the faceplate. Having selected Bluetooth phone as the source and selected New to pair a new phone; the would-be phone pairer then has to enter a four-digit number, which puts the KD-BT1 in findable mode. The process is completed using the phone handset.

Making a call using the faceplate is straightforward: when in Bluetooth phone mode, just press M, then rotate the dial to either phone book or phone number. With a cell phone paired, the KD-BT1 automatically copies over the cell phone's address book and a press of the M button brings up the phonebook, with three entries shown at one time. Contacts can be browsed with the use of the up and down arrows on the right of the screen, and the down buttons will get you through the list three entries at a time--a nice feature, but it will still take you a long time to get to Zak's number if you have lots of friends. One niggle we have with the system is that the phone book disappears after about 30 seconds, and you have to repeat the two-step process to get it to show up again. We were able to make calls with the push of a single button, and then by speaking all subsequent commands into the microphone


Hands-free calling is just the start of the KD-BT1's Bluetooth capabilities.
Calling by phone number is more cumbersome than via the phonebook, as you have to rotate the dial to get to each individual number and then press the skip forward button to move to the next digit. This is not too much of a problem however--how many times do you call the specific number of a contact on your cell phone as opposed to searching for them by name? Once a call is underway, the driver has to speak into the stereo's microphone (included), and clarity from the other end of the line is good.

The KD-BT1 can also be used as a proxy for voice dialing if your cell phone supports it: holding down the M button when in Bluetooth phone mode provides a shortcut to voice dialing. We were able to make calls without the push of a single button, instead speaking a command into the microphone.

Auto answer
According to its specs, the KD-BT1 can also notify drivers of the arrival of a text message sent to a connected phone, and then display the message on its LCD screen. Alternatively, the system can be set to auto answer, notifying you of an incoming call by a single ring, and then answering the call for you, which is a useful feature, but one that has the potential to get you into trouble if you're not expecting an important call. Ending a call is performed by holding down any button other than the on/off switch, another nice touch.

According to its specs, the KD-BT1 can also notify drivers of the arrival of a text message sent to a connected phone. The instruction manual states that if the Message Info option in the settings menu is set to Auto, the stereo will sound a chime and display the phrase "MSG" on the screen at the receipt of a text message. In our experience with our trusty Sony Ericsson K790a, this feature did not work, possibly because our phones do not support the Bluetooth object push profile (OPP).

In sum
The JVC KD-BT1 is a very capable car stereo. Its wealth of Bluetooth features is complemented by a very useful USB interface and support for most digital audio formats. We're not great fans of the system's complex menu structure, but owners will probably get used to it after a while. The main concern among users should be having a phone that is sufficiently equipped to take advantage of all its features.

What you'll pay

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

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