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JVC KD-AVX33 review: JVC KD-AVX33

Rather than a one-touch means of getting from the track information screen to a list of tracks on a disc or external media device, the KD-AVX33 requires users to go back to the main menu, navigate to the List feature using the dial, and press Enter. The display then shows a list of folders on a given disc/device, which drivers can then browse and select using the dial and enter buttons. We would prefer a one-touch means of displaying song libraries. Another gripe we have with the navigation of audio files is the system's time delay when skipping between audio sources. When switching between disc and USB music, for example, it takes around 10 seconds for the new source to begin playing, and a further 10 seconds for the display to show complete tag information. This is lost valuable time when you are sitting at the stop light trying to select your next tune.

While we like the system's ability to show full ID3-tag information, we're less impressed with its navigation interface for digital audio libraries.

On a more positive note, we are impressed by the video function of the KD-AVX33. Its small, 3.5-inch screen delivers iPhone-like clarity and picture crispness making it possible to watch an entire movie without getting eye strain. We are also impressed with the quality of the KD-AVX33's built-in Bluetooth hands-free calling interface. Pairing a phone to the system is a straightforward procedure, requiring users simply to activate the system's Bluetooth receiver and choose a PIN code, and then to search for the stereo with their phone.

Call quality--both outbound via the external microphone and inbound through the car's speakers--is generally good and we like the dedicated call button, which enabled us to answer calls with one touch. Once paired with a phone, the KD-AVX33 copies over all phone book entries (up to 5,000 contacts) and call information, enabling users to access and call contacts via the dial menu.

The JVC KD-AVX33 has built-in Bluetooth hands-free calling functionality, enabling drivers to access their phone books, make calls, and read texts while on the road.

If your phone supports voice dialing, then the KD-AVX33 can also be used to initiate spoken call commands, although we had trouble making ourselves understood--perhaps the fault of our Samsung T619-SCH's less-than-stellar voice-command system.

In sum
The JVC KD-AVX33 is a stylish, feature-rich in-dash multimedia and communications device. We are impressed with the number of audio and video sources it supports as well as with its as-standard Bluetooth hands-free calling features. While its video display is perhaps the smallest on the market, it redeems itself with crystal clear image quality. The main disadvantage of the clean, stylish faceplate design is that drivers have to negotiate a convoluted menu structure to browse digital audio files, a problem that is exacerbated by a slow screen-refresh rate when skipping between sources and tracks. At $500 to $600, the KD-AVX33 is not a steal, but its compact design, high-quality audio and video reproduction, and wide range of as-standard features will endear it to those looking for a compact, cutting-edge in-dash multimedia player.

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