The Good A crisp display, an intuitive menu structure, and some advanced search and playlist-refinement functions make the Harman Kardon Drive + Play 2 a great standalone in-car iPod interface.
The Bad The device could use a faster processor at times, especially for rendering album art, and audio playback via its FM transmitter can be sketchy.
The Bottom Line The Harman Kardon Drive + Play 2 is a stylish and functional aid for playing digital music in the car. Its iPod compatibility and dynamic channel creation function really separate it from the pack, although you pay for what you get.
Harman Kardon Drive + Play 2 iPod Control System
The first Drive + Play from Harman Kardon gave drivers a useful, basic means of controlling their iPods while on the road. With its limited range of features, monochrome display, and clunky electronics box, however, the original device was beginning to look dated, and it was only a matter of time before it was updated with something a bit snazzier.
The Drive + Play 2 picks up where its predecessor left off, adding a stylish interface and a host of new features into the bargain. Gone is the black-on-gray screen of the previous model, replaced by a 3.5-inch full color screen, hooked up to a small digital-audio hub. The device transfers all iPod information (including album art) to the display, where it is presented in crisply rendered and intuitively designed menus. All controls are made via a sleek wireless knob. The Drive + Play 2 relies on an FM signal (either via a wireless transmitter or a car's wired antenna) or a line-in connection to play audio via a car's speakers.
In contrast to its predecessor, the Drive + Play 2 is a good-looking piece of gadgetry. Black lacquer-effect plastic and matte silver trim for the hub and the control knob give them a high-tech feel, while the theme (i.e., color) of the display menus can be configured to one of five bright hues. For those who really want to personalize their Drive + Play 2, screensavers can be downloaded from the Harman Kardon Web site.
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