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The Clarion DFZ675MC is one of the few double-DIN-size car stereos we've seen that doesn't feature any video capabilities. Though you can't watch movies on it, you can listen to an impressive range of audio formats, including AM/FM and satellite radio; CDs; MP3 and WMA discs; SD card audio files; iPods (with the required add-on interface); and generic MP3 players via the auxiliary input jack. As well as playing music, the DFZ675MC can also record tracks from regular CDs via its Music Catcher II function. The DFZ675MC features some advanced audio tweaking features, including a Listening Position Optimizer, Digital Z-Enhancer (DZE) sound tone effects for different types of in-car speaker arrangement, and adjustment options for equalizer settings.
DesignThe Clarion DFZ675MC has a cluttered front panel design, with buttons of all sizes scattered across the faceplate. Colored backlit buttons--for disc eject, folder selection, and other system controls--run down each side of the unit, interspersed with dummy buttons. This arrangement may make for a nice, symmetrical visual appearance, but it will likely prove confusing to drivers who want to make selections on the fly.
Forget add-on modules and external hands-free calling speakerphones. The easiest and cleanest way to make calls in the car is routing them through a built-in Bluetooth phone system. If you're among the majority of drivers who doesn't have a factory-installed calling system, Sony's MEX-BT5100 is a useful all-in-one stereo and Bluetooth calling system for the aftermarket. Retaining most of the features of its predecessor--the Sony MEX-BT5000--the 5100 combines an intuitive user interface, a straightforward menu structure, and a stylish faceplate design.
DesignThe MEX-BT5100 features an elegantly simple design with a usable multidirectional joystick controller, a minimal number of buttons, and some snazzy brushed aluminum trim. The X-shaped motif on the left-hand side of the system shows that it is part of Sony's X-Plod line of car stereos. This joystick controller provides the primary interface for navigating phone menus, skipping and searching for music, and adjusting sound and volume. In contrast to a number of other similarly designed interfaces, the controller on the MEX-5100 is firm enough to resist tipping over when trying to make a selection, and has a solid feel to it. We also like the accessibility of the other controls including the prominent Source buttons situated closest to the driver, and the backlit phone and menu buttons that call up the system's intuitive menus. We like the way that the Menu button calls up different options depending on whether the system is in phone or music mode. All information is shown on the stereo's monochrome LCD display, which features a number of movie and wallpaper screen patterns and which we found a little too busy for our liking. A soft-open mechanical fold-down faceplate completes the picture.
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.
DesignThe 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.
Alpine's CDE-141 sits at the lowest end of the manufacturer's line of single-DIN CD receivers. It is a fairly basic stereo, but its short list of features should cover many users' in-car audio needs. If you're just looking for a simple receiver to connect your iPhone with or a USB key full of music to listen to while driving, read on. However, users looking for advanced features such as Bluetooth hands-free calling, app integration, or satellite radio connectivity should look further up the car audio totem pole.
DesignOn the left third of the faceplate, the user is presented with buttons for Play/Pause, Skip, AM/FM band, and a large blue button that can be tapped to cycle through available audio sources or held to power the unit off and back on.
Moving to the right, you encounter the control knob, which can be twisted to adjust the volume by default. Pushing the knob like a button calls up the search or tuning function depending on the source. Once in one of these modes, twisting the knob moves through available options and tapping the knob makes a selection. Below the control knob are Back and Audio/Options buttons that are also used for moving through menus.