The Best Kenwood Nav Receivers Yet
Turbocharged for 2012 with a new processor
Zak Billmeier grew up in southern Vermont and coastal Maine. After graduating from Mary Washington College with a Geography degree he still isn't sure quite what to do with, he eventually settled in the mountains of Central Virginia. He spends his free time chasing his daughter around, taking pictures, gardening and cooking. Zak traces the roots of his interest in electronic gadgets to the Casio wristwatch with a built-in calculator he received as a gift one year as a child. He joined Crutchfield's car A/V team in 2007.
More from Zak Billmeier
Taking an already great line and making it even better
Kenwood is putting the pedal to the metal in 2012. They’ve taken their already-incredible navigation receivers and turbocharged them with a new processor, so they can calculate routes, run apps, and stream music faster and more efficiently than ever before.
It’s like they took a great car and dropped in a more powerful engine. The boost in speed means the receivers can do more things at once, and Kenwood takes full advantage — they’ve added sweet new features like Aha Radio® and Bluetooth® Pandora® support.
Kenwood’s slogan is “Live Connected, Drive Connected,” and their 2012 line lives up to it.
So is the new processor really faster than the 2011 version?
Kenwood did a lot of hard work to improve the speed of last year’s processor, and our first impressions were that it is indeed a great leap forward. Next step — test 2012’s processor against 2011. I used the DNX6980HD (2011) and DNX6990HD (2012) for the test.
The new processor really shines while multitasking — so I made sure the receiver was receiving a GPS signal during testing. I suspect that had I been in a moving vehicle testing the processor’s speed, the numbers would have been even more different. Bottom line: it’s faster. A lot faster.
Good news for Ford SYNC® users: Keep your SYNC system while stepping up to Kenwood
A faster processor isn't the only thing Kenwood has going for them this year. We’re eagerly awaiting the debut of the iDatalink “Maestro,” which will let you install a super-fast Kenwood navigation receiver while keeping your factory-installed Ford SYNC features intact. Until now, installing a new stereo in your Ford meant loosing the cool SYNC system.
Keep your familiar controls
You’ll get to keep your voice commands, factory Bluetooth, satellite radio, iPod control, and steering wheel controls. iDatalink will integrate these factory systems with your Kenwood navigation receiver — including optional SYNC features like 911 Assist.
It just makes sense
Your dealer charges you up toseveral thousand dollars more to add a premium factory navigation system. Kenwood nav receivers give you more features, plus superior sound quality, for far less money.
Check out our preview of the Maestro from CES.
As long as we're talking about Kenwood innovations, I'd like to point you to their pride and joy.
The Kenwood Excelon DNX9990HD — a true “flagship”
Kenwood packs their top-of-the-line receiver with the latest nav and entertainment features. You’ll get the best Garmin navigation out there on a big touchscreen, built-in HD Radio™ reception and Bluetooth® connectivity, and the ability to run Internet radio apps with your smartphone. Protecting it all — the Kenwood Excelon 2-year warranty. And check out the rest of the DNX line, too.
Accurate, helpful navigation by Garmin
Garmin's GPS system is about more than just directions. A built-in traffic tuner gives you real-time traffic data, and will even help calculate routes using historical traffic data. A split-screen view shows nav on one side and music sources on the other.
An iPhone® and iPod® lover's dream
iPhone users can control Pandora® Internet radio and Aha Radio®, plus play the audio from other apps. You can dive into your iPod's music library on the big touchscreen and see album art while your music is playing.
Parrot® Bluetooth for music, apps, and calls
If you have an Android™ phone, you'll be able to control Aha Radio and Pandora via Bluetooth connection. you can also stream music from your phone and make calls by tappint the screen. BlackBerry users can control Pandora over Bluetooth, too.
Seroius sound quality for music lovers
First, you get a 13-band graphic equalizer that helps you tailor your sound to your vehicle's interior. Second, with high- and low-pass filters, you can get your speakers running efficiently. Topping it off, is digital time alignment — you can adjust the timing of your speakers so the sound from each reaches your ears at the same time, putting you in the center of the souncstage.
And that's why we love Kenwood receivers
Faster processing for a terrific user experience. Integration with Ford SYNC system controls. And an exemplary receiver sitting at the head of the class. Kenwood is positioned for a great year. But the most important question for you to ask is, "Will it fit my car?"