El Kameleon JVC EXAD KD-AVX77 media player review:

El Kameleon JVC EXAD KD-AVX77 media player

Around back, a USB cable pigtail allows for the connection of USB storage devices and digital media players, including iPods and iPhones. The unit can control and browse media using the onscreen controls, or relinquish control to the connected iPod while maintaining the digital signal using the passenger control mode. Out of the box, you can play back audio, such as podcasts and audiobooks, but not video. However, with an optional iPod video interface cable, you can unlock video playback.

An internal Bluetooth wireless connection allows for the connection of cell phones for hand-free calling or Bluetooth-enabled media players for A2DP audio streaming.

The KD-AVX77 El Kameleon's internal amplifier outputs 20 watts into four channels (RMS) with a peak output of 50 watts per channel, which is fairly standard for an aftermarket unit these days.

Audio quality can be adjusted with a seven band EQ with 12 presets (3 of which are user customizable), as well as standard fader/balance adjustment, subwoofer level adjustment, and high-pass and low-pass filter adjustments. The internal amplifier can be set to high power or low power--the latter is a good setting for sound without destroying OEM speakers.

Hands-free calling sounds good with the external microphone mounted near the driver's head and audio coming through the vehicle's speakers. Calls weren't completely devoid of road noise in our Chevrolet Aveo test vehicle, but callers were able to clearly hear what we were saying.

Navigating the digital media library on a connected iPod using the touch-screen interface wasn't as intuitive as the dial-based system on some of the Alpine systems that we've tested, but we were able to sort through our Artists, Albums, and Podcasts rather quickly. The interface displays six options at a time that you can scroll through using a horizontal scroll bar along the bottom of the List screen. Touch a location on the scroll bar to jump to that point in the library, which makes it very easy to get to the end of a long list of artist quite quickly.

The gesture controls could be quite useful, if they worked consistently. We had a hard time getting the unit to quickly increase or decrease volume with finger swirl gesture. Fortunately, onscreen buttons for these controls are usually available.

In sum
The JVC KD-AVX77 is a marked improvement over the previous generation El Kameleon unit (the KD-AVX44). The larger screen doesn't add anything to the DVD-viewing experience, as it is still too small for extended viewing, but the customizable interface is quite cool. We especially like that the speed of the iPod/iPhone interface has been greatly increased, but the user interface is still too clunky and requires the you too jump through too many screens to complete simple tasks like changing the playlist.

The expandability and flexibility of the KD-AVX77 makes this a great receiver for system builders looking to build stealthy in-car multimedia systems without a big double-DIN screen in the dashboard. However, anyone who doesn't plan on taking advantage of the KD-AVX77's expandability will probably find simpler, easier-to-use interfaces elsewhere.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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