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Sony XPLOD CDX-GT920U (in-dash car stereo) review:

Sony XPLOD CDX-GT920U (in-dash car stereo)

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The Good The Sony Xplod CDX-GT920U has a front aux input, a rear USB input, three preamp outputs, and the ability to add HD or Satellite radio control modules, which gives you lots of options for expanding the head unit's functionality. The interface and menu structure make finding songs a snap.

The Bad Although there is a USB input, the CDX-GT920U doesn't natively support the Apple iPod.

The Bottom Line The Sony Xplod CDX-GT920U offers many options for connecting to your digital music library and supports the most commonly used formats, unless your music library is on your iPod.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall
  • Cabin tech 8.0
  • Performance tech 7.0
  • Design 6.0

Easy on the eyes, the Sony Xplod CDX-GT920U sits close to the top of Sony's line of single DIN head units. The GT920U proves to be much more than just a pretty face, as it's packed with input options, including a rear USB input and a menu system that makes it a breeze to find the right song for the moment.

The CDX-GT920U is a very good looking single DIN head unit. The layout is similar to the rest of the Xplod line, such as the MEX-BT2600, but with fewer buttons. Most functions are controlled with a large chrome dial/joystick that dominates the left side of the faceplate. Surrounding the dial are four buttons (Mode, Source, Shuffle, and Display) and a chrome toggle. The layout is very simple and, because most operations are handled with the dial, very easy to use.

To the far right of the faceplate are the aux input jack and the Scroll, Off, and Open/Eject buttons, the latter of which operates the motorized faceplate. With a touch of the button, the faceplate rotates down, revealing the slot-loading CD player. When in the upright position, the faceplate can be adjusted between three viewing angles.

The rest of the faceplate is occupied by the single color dot-matrix display. The resolution is good enough to clearly display three lines of text information; however, the resolution fails to handle the background animations the CDX-GT920U is supposedly capable of displaying, but which simply don't look good. The image quality of these "movies" is comparable with the first-gen Nintendo Gameboy in terms of resolution and refresh rate. But the CDX-GT920U isn't a multimedia head unit and it looks better without the animations playing.

The button illumination has been set to red; green is also an option.

A menu option allows you to change the backlight color of the buttons from blue to red or green, but the display and the dial are backlit in blue regardless of the option chosen.

We did have a few minor issues with the CDX-GT920U's interface. Despite its large size, the mode button doesn't really do anything but toggle AM/FM bands and change the play mode of ATRAC audio devices, which makes it seem like a bit of a waste of faceplate real estate. Another minor annoyance is that the faceplate lacks a mute or attenuate button. Instead, Sony has chosen to put the mute button on the included IR remote. The whole point of the mute feature is to quickly silence the music, which would be useful if you need to suddenly take a phone call or order at a drive through; having to fumble with the remote defeats the purpose of having a mute button.

The main selling points of the CDX-GT920U are its digital audio features and the "Quick BrowZer" mode, which allows easy navigation of digital audio folders. The unit supports MP3, WMA, and AAC burned to CD or stored on a USB-compatible device (such as a USB stick or MP3 player). The unit also has an aux input on the faceplate, which is good if you own an iPod, because the CDX-GT920U doesn't natively support the iPod's proprietary file system. An external iPod adapter is available as a $50 add-on. Add-on modules are available for HD and satellite radio, as well.

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