Android Auto hasn't changed much since last year, which means that the revised double-DIN head unit models being revealed by car electronics companies this year won't be all that interesting. Case in point: Kenwood's three new Android Auto head units, which are being revealed at CES, are pretty uninteresting. One thing, however, is rather intriguing: the flagship model's stunning $1,599.95 MSRP.

Let's start with the two cheaper models: the $599.95 eXcelon DMX7706S and the $649.95 eXcelon DMX706S. Both have 6.95-inch resistive touchscreens, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support (no wireless functionality is mentioned), 1.5A USB outputs, and two camera connections. Audio-wise, the duo each has three sets of 4V, low-level outputs for amps, internal amplification of 22x4 watts RMS for speakers, support for FLAC and WAV files up to 192kHz/24-bit, and a 13-band equalizer with something called Digital Time Alignment. The $50 extra you pay for the DMX706S gets you "tuned audiophile-grade components," as well as an adjustable 3-way crossover. These two will be available in April.

The eXcelon Reference DNX996XR.

Personally, I find the eXcelon Reference DNX996XR more interesting by sheer virtue of its $1,599.95 price tag. This unit has a 6.8" capacitive touchscreen, wireless Auto and wireless CarPlay support, the same 1.5A USB outputs, and three camera connections. It also has built-in Garmin navigation with live traffic, a motor inside to tilt the display for your preferred viewing angles, and a DVD slot. Video can be played via DVD, USB, and SD. The DNX996XR has the same FLAC/WAV support, the same 13-band equalizer, and the same time alignment, as well as three sets of gold-plated 5V RCA-style connections for external amps. This unit will be available in March.

Given that you can get wireless Android Auto in the Pioneer head unit I reviewed for $537 these days, its exclusion on the $600 and $650 Kenwood units seems puzzling. Plus, I really doubt anyone needs the Garmin navigation, motorized display tilting, and DVD slot of the $1,600 unit. Unless these drop drastically in price, or you really want the fancy audio and feature add-ons, they probably won't be worth your time.

Press Release

KENWOOD Introduces Touch-Screen, Shallow-Mount Multimedia Receivers

Short-chassis receivers save on space but don’t skimp on features

LAS VEGAS, January 8, 2019 (MEDIAWIRE) – KENWOOD USA announced it has launched its first receiver models featuring a shortened chassis in a double-DIN size. The KENWOOD eXcelon DMX706S (MSRP $649.95) and KENWOOD DMX7706S ($599.95 MSRP) are multimedia receivers without a CD/DVD transport, which allows for a mounting depth of less than three inches. These new designs let the receivers fit a variety of applications, especially as more factory-installed electronics are positioned in and behind the dash.

“At KENWOOD, we are part of a community with our retailers, brand advocates and end users,” said Scott Caswell, senior marketing manager. “Our community told us they wanted a shallow-mount receiver that didn’t sacrifice screen space, smartphone compatibility or entertainment options. We’ve responded this year with what we think are two of the most feature-rich options on the market.”

As with several of the new class of KENWOOD multimedia receivers, the DMX706S and DMX7706S are equipped with Apple® CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. These proprietary interfaces allow drivers to connect their iPhone® or Android™-powered smartphone to the receiver’s 1.5-amp, rapid-charge USB port, and view and control its content, communication and navigation on the receiver’s 6.95-inch, clear resistive touch panel.

In addition, the receivers feature on-board interfaces for enjoying Pandora Radio and Spotify through a connected smartphone, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio when the optional SiriusXM SXV300 tuner is connected. Dual Zone Audio/Video allows an add-on source to connect and play exclusively through rear speakers and optional rear-seat video monitors.

Built-in Bluetooth enables both safe communication and entertainment options, with audio streaming as well as simultaneous pairing of two smartphones to receive calls from either phone without manual switching. The passenger-friendly KENWOOD Music Mix technology lets up to five phones connect to the receiver simultaneously to easily switch between streaming content from each phone. Driver safety is further enhanced with two camera inputs (front and rear) and a rear-view parking guideline overlay to aid in maneuvering.

Both receivers include three sets of four-volt, low-level outputs for connection to amplifiers, and internal amplification of 22x4 watts RMS for direct connection to speakers. They also feature Hi-Res Audio compatibility for content up to 192kHz/24Bit in FLAC and WAV formats, and a 13-band equalizer with Digital Time Alignment. The eXcelon DMX706S adds tuned audiophile-grade components and an adjustable 3-way crossover.

Compatibility with the optional iDataLink Maestro module lets users replace the factory screen-based radio and retain important functions and displays when using the DMX706S or DMX770S. Maestro interfaces between the receiver and factory installed options like satellite radio, auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth and climate controls to enable seamless functionality. Maestro also works with installed radar / laser detection systems from ESCORT and K40 Electronics, allowing users to receive data and manage settings of the device through the KENWOOD receiver display.

The KENWOOD eXcelon DMX706S and KENWOOD DMX7706S are expected to be available in April. For more information on select models and features, visit http://www.kenwood.com/usa/car.

About JVCKENWOOD USA Corporation

JVCKENWOOD USA Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of JVCKENWOOD Corporation and is a leading developer of imaging, home and car entertainment, and navigation products for the consumer market, two-way radio communications systems for public safety, private industry and amateur users, and video equipment for the broadcast and professional markets. For detailed information, call JVCKENWOOD USA at 1-800-950-5005 or visit us at http://us.jvckenwood.com, www.kenwood.com/usa and www.jvc.com.

Press Release

2019 KENWOOD Flagship Receiver Combines Wireless Connectivity, Personalization and Safety with Premium Sound

New eXcelon Reference DNX996XR customizes the in-vehicle experience for any driver

LAS VEGAS, January 8, 2019 (MEDIAWIRE) – KENWOOD USA unveiled its premium multimedia receiver at the 2019 CES in the eXcelon Reference DNX996XR, a complete entertainment, communication and driver assistance control center in a double-DIN chassis. Most significant in this year's model is the ability of iPhone® users to wirelessly enjoy their content through the receiver using Apple® CarPlay™. The DNX996XR is also equipped with wired and wireless connectivity using Android Auto™.

"Releasing our new top multimedia receiver each year is a highly anticipated event for our retailers and even our staff," said Scott Caswell, senior marketing manager for KENWOOD." It's the one item that represents the best of everything KENWOOD offers, and sets the tone for features that are shared throughout our KENWOOD eXcelon and KENWOOD lines. The capabilities of the DNX996XR represent a ton of research into what consumers want and need from an in-vehicle experience, letting them intuitively get information, communicate and monitor their driving and maneuvering status. And of course they get to enjoy their content through premium hardware, whether it's from their smartphones, streaming services or the receiver's inbuilt sources."

Personalization Features Create the Ideal Listening Environment

With the eXcelon Reference DNX996XR, driving becomes a personal encounter. Through its array of wireless-enabled options, drivers have access to the same smartphone or Internet-based content and information whether they connect their phone to the receiver's pair of 1.5-amp, rapid-charge USB ports, or leave it in a pocket or purse. The 6.8-inch capacitive touch screen is roomy and sensitive enough to allow for easy feature selection without distracting the driver. The high-definition display can also be tilted up or down via internal motorization for the optimum viewing angle, and its text can be re-sized for reading ease. The driver can even select which information to display on the screen from a selection of widgets including maps, weather, images, compass and navigation directions.

Sound quality can also be tailored to the driver's tastes. The DNX996XR can accommodate a variety of audio formats including high-resolution 192kHz / 24-bit audio in FLAC or WAV files. Its internal audio processing makes use of 13 bands of equalization and time alignment to deliver the right frequencies to the listener's ears at the right time. Three sets of gold-plated, five-volt, RCA-style connections provide ample signal to external amplifiers to build the ideal audio system.

Endless Content From a Variety of Onboard, Connected and Streaming Entertainment Options

Entertainment is at the core of the DNX996XR. In addition to smartphone content and streaming apps that are accessible via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, users have access to the over-the-air HD Radio network, which boasts more than 3,500 channels nationwide. SiriusXM compatibility (optional SiriusXM SXV300 tuner and subscription required) adds over 230 radio stations covering news, sports, talk and music. The DNX996XR also hosts interfaces to control and play content from Pandora Radio and Spotify via a connected smartphone. Built-in Bluetooth streaming is expanded on the DNX996XR with KENWOOD Music Mix. Up five users can connect their smartphones to play music through the receiver.

For video playback, the DNX996XR can play content from a DVD, SD card or USB memory device. In addition, drivers can mirror the screen of a connected and compatible Android-powered smartphone onto the DNX996XR while the vehicle is parked. The receiver also connects to optional rear-seat monitors, and its dual-zone capability allows rear-seat occupants to watch one source while another plays on the DNX996XR display.

Safety and Driver Assistance Capabilities Rival OEM Features

As safety features have become a major consideration with new-vehicle purchases, the DNX996XR's driver assistance features provide direction, visibility and critical notifications. Built-in Bluetooth lets drivers minimize phone contact and communicate through the receiver, with up to two smartphones able to be connected simultaneously. Drivers can select from the built-in, turn-by-turn navigation from Garmin with live traffic notifications from INRIX, or access smartphone-based navigation apps like Waze through the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto interface. Garmin provides 2D or 3D map views along with lane instruction during navigation, and a new terrain view shows the driver a realistic layout of height and landscape.

Parking and maneuvering are made easier with connections for up to three optional cameras, such as the KENWOOD CMOS-320 or DRV-N520. The CMOS-320 provides a high-definition view with an optional distance overlay. The DRV-N520 records the front view while driving and if the vehicle is impacted while parked. Both models are controlled or adjusted from the DNX996XR touch display.

If the DNX996R is replacing a factory radio with extended capabilities like on-screen climate control, Bluetooth or satellite radio, these features can be retained and controlled through the new multimedia receiver with the addition of the optional iDataLink Maestro. Maestro interfaces between the receiver and factory installed options, also providing vehicle status information such as speed, vehicle faults and tire pressure. Additionally, it works with installed radar / laser detection systems from ESCORT and K40 Electronics, allowing users to receive data and manage settings of the device through the KENWOOD receiver display.

The KENWOOD eXcelon Reference DNX996XR will be available in March with a suggested retail price of $1,599.95. For more information on select models and features, visit www.kenwood.com/usa/car.

About JVCKENWOOD USA Corporation

JVCKENWOOD USA Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of JVCKENWOOD Corporation and is a leading developer of imaging, home and car entertainment, and navigation products for the consumer market, two-way radio communications systems for public safety, private industry and amateur users, and video equipment for the broadcast and professional markets. For detailed information, call JVCKENWOOD USA at 1-800-950-5005 or visit us at http://us.jvckenwood.com, www.kenwood.com/usa and www.jvc.com.