El Kameleon JVC EXAD KD-AVX77 media player review: El Kameleon JVC EXAD KD-AVX77 media player

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The Good The JVC KD-AVX77 El Kameleon features a customizable interface and a responsive touch screen. iPod and USB browsing is quick and easy to understand. Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming increase driver safety and add an additional audio source. A plethora of AV inputs and outputs provide many expandability options.

The Bad The superwide touch screen is too small for DVD playback and its awkward aspect ratio means that most films will be cropped, stretched, or shrunken. Gesture controls are inconsistent.

The Bottom Line The JVC KD-AVX77 El Kameleon is a great receiver for system builders, but the touch-screen interface isn't as easy to use as some of the competition's physical control schemes.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7

When we last saw JVC's El Kameleon car audio receiver, we awarded it our Editors' Choice award for its innovative interface and expandability. However, we wished that the unit featured a touch screen instead of a touch pad.

With the new El Kameleon KD-AVX77, we get our wish. The new El Kameleon features a superwide touch screen that fills up its entire single-DIN faceplate. But is a bigger screen always better?

The superwide screen is awkward for DVD playback, but allows for a fantastic level of customization. You can download custom backgrounds, adjust text and button color and design, and even customize the virtual button layout.

The KD-AVX77 is a single DIN unit with a detachable faceplate. The face is almost completely devoid of physical controls, featuring only a Power/Attenuate button at the top right corner and a button to eject the faceplate at the lower right corner.

The rest of the KD-AVX77's faceplate is occupied by a 5.4-inch superwide (3.32:1 aspect ratio) touch-screen display with a resolution of 800 pixels by 240 pixels. Frankly, a screen this wide is of limited use for displaying DVD movies, because very few DVDs are encoded in a supercinemascope aspect ratio. As a result, movies viewed on the KD-AVX77's screen end up cropped, stretched, or just scaled down with black borders.

The display features a proximity sensor that can be used to, for example, pop up the hidden onscreen controls when your hand approaches the screen during DVD playback. The system can be set to hide the interface buttons by default or black out the inactive screen and respond to proximity or touch.

However, where the El Kameleon's touch screen comes into its own is with the customizable interface. You are able to choose different backgrounds, and virtual button layouts. The KD-AVX77 also features touch gestures for basic commands, such as swirling a finger to quickly raise or lower the volume or swiping horizontally to skip back or forward.

The KD-AVX77 El Kameleon fits into a standard single-DIN space that many vehicles reserve for car stereos. Basic installation involves making the standard wiring harness connections for power, speakers, etc. Video playback is only enabled when the vehicle is parked, so the e-brake signal lead must be tapped during installation. Additionally, the USB cable pigtail must be routed, as well as the microphone for hands-free calling.

Audio RCA preamp outputs, for stereo front and rear and dedicated center channel and subwoofer outputs, allow for the use of external amplifiers for 5.1 surround sound. A video output and a secondary stereo RCA output allow for the connection of external monitors or a rear-seat entertainment system. A video input either works in conjunction with a reverse-gear signal lead to connect an optional rearview camera, or in conjunction with a stereo RCA line input to add an external video player. Finally, an OE remote input allows for the use of some vehicles' steering wheel switchgear, with the addition of an optional control box.

The KD-AVX77's multiple AV inputs and outputs and the AM/FM radio antenna input are all on pigtails and cannot be removed from the device, which means that even if you're not using a ton of input and output options, you'll have a lot of cables to cram behind the unit, so make sure you have enough clearance to allow for adequate cooling.

The JVC KD-AVX77 features an AM/FM radio tuner and a single disc DVD/CD player behind its motorized faceplate. The optical drive supports MP3, WMA, WAV, and AAC digital audio playback. DVD playback features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround capability, but only if external amps are used for at least the center and subwoofer channels, as the internal amplifier has only four audio channels.