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Video: Tips to avoid glare on your car stereo display

I've been a camera nut all my life, so it makes sense I'd end up being a video producer. Of course, it has been a roundabout journey for me, as I started at Crutchfield in 2007 writing about car audio gear. Over the years I've learned about all the electronic items we sell, and it is my job to make sure we are making videos that you will find useful, whether you're shopping for something specific or trying to install some new gear yourself. My job is a lot of fun because I get to play around with all the cool stuff you see on our website while I'm making videos about it. Getting hands-on with the gear helps me see what I should show you about a product, though the flip side is my personal wish list is a mile long...

More from Zak Billmeier

Bright glare on the stereo display has plagued us for as long as we've had the sun and car stereos. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do about it. But sometimes there is. At Crutchfield, we've found that there are some stereo features that can definitely help, like being able to change the display color, increasing the brightness and contrast, and best of all, being able to tilt the display to remove the glare. Check out our examination of the "glare problem" in this video, and keep these things in mind when shopping for a new car receiver.

  • paul from ireland

    Posted on 1/14/2016

    your tips where great and solved my problem with my landcruiser sun glare on my kenwood unit ,thank you ,rgs paul

  • jay from mobile

    Posted on 2/6/2016

    This helped my JVC kw-v51bt thanks a lot.

  • Arun singh from Simpsonville

    Posted on 4/26/2016

    My brightness is on max on my pioneer double din and it still has a big glare

  • AJ Jenkins from Richmond

    Posted on 4/28/2016

    I still do not understand why car stereo manufacturers do not recess the display on their head units and include a wired trackpad. It is a no brainer! Whoever decides to do that should patent it. Glare is the number 1 factor that makes high dollar stereos useless and manufacturers just continue to ignore it.

  • freep from Bayfield CO

    Posted on 5/6/2016

    Why not a shade visor as is used on GPS units? How hard could it be? What could possilby go wrong?

  • Chris from Burbank

    Posted on 11/20/2016

    Why not aim the reflective surface of the plastic front window so your eyes see a reflection of the ceiling of the car? Instead of the sun bouncing off the passenger seat? I'm talking to YOU Kenwood. And make that reflective surface slightly concave instead of convex so it's not reflecting the ENTIRE PASSENGER SEAT INTO MY EYES.

  • Denby Smith from Mansfield, Ohio

    Posted on 12/2/2016

    I am totally disgusted with my Kenwood Excelon KDC-x599. I can't see a thing in daylight. It started malfunctioning months ago. It stopped working today. (12/1/16). I purchased it and got it 8/15/2015 8/17/2015. I have had a ton of after market stereos from 1975 till now. Nothing has been as lousy as this. This stereo isn't worth having. The glare issue is annoying and appears to be in other brands too. I am disgusted that the makers know and don't give a darn. Tech support here was great with installation. Too bad the product is junk

  • Sean Miceli from Palatine

    Posted on 4/17/2017

    That's the only thing that dissapointed me about the ddx794 is the glare, I was hoping since it was led back lit that it would eliminate it.. samsung needs to make screens for all these headunits

  • gb from bangor

    Posted on 4/23/2017

    Your video was good for some applications, but the problem I am seeing is the display on a sunny day is just too dim to see. I have the KDC-BT765HD. It seems a little better than the KMM-BT515HD but still bad. I was scanning for channels and couldn't see the display to tell when I started over the same channels again. I returned a KMM-BT515HD I purchased and drove from NC to FL. I couldn't see the display no matter what angle, color or brightness. I have Kenwood ham radios with the LCD and have no problem seeing them. I would be extremely happy with the LED on the JVC HD single din you demonstrated, but I suspect it looked good more because on the light source you chose as opposed to the sun. You cannot use a bright light to simulate the sun. The frequencies that make up the light are different. Try looking at it in the car dash on a sunny day while driving 80mph on the interstate. Kenwood has made a product that is a danger to drivers on the road.

  • Ron

    Posted on 5/8/2017

    Waste of money!! If you drive at night it's fine but who does that. Paid good money to have it installed and can't see a thing. I guess Kenwood doesn't care!! I would try another brand.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/15/2017

    Ron, valid point. In response to observations like yours, Kenwood has improved the display on current models of their single-DIN stereos to address this glare issue. Also, it's worth noting that how much glare you have to deal with depends on where your stereo is mounted in the dash. Higher on the dash means a much greater chance for glare. The best way to avoid it is a stereo that has multiple viewing angles for the display.

  • Tommyz from Corning,NY

    Posted on 5/25/2017

    I have a JVC KW-V220BT in my convertible 350z. The bright setting is really bright, but with the top down in full sun I cant see a thing. Have you tried any anti-glare screens or anything?

  • Patrico

    Posted on 6/11/2017

    I hate my Kenwood DDX99035. The screen is to dull to see in daytime. Dealer says my. 2010 Honda Civic EX dash is too curved backwards for tilt to pull out far enough to stop reflection. My iphone placed beside that piece of crap Kenwood is 10 times brighter. I would tell all you guys to think twice before you buy any Kenwood junk.

  • John Daugherty from Buffalo Grove

    Posted on 7/14/2017

    I can't believe you wasted the time on this video with generalizations and no recommendation for any particular brand or model that allows you to see clearly. I have a Pioneer DEH-X6900BT which is completely worthless.

  • Roberto Lopez from Miami

    Posted on 10/6/2017

    i got Pioneer FH-X730BS and i dont see the display at all during day light . My brightness is all the way to the max . I dont know what alse to do....

  • Mark from North Babylon

    Posted on 10/7/2017

    I have a Kenwood DNX893S, the glare coming from the passenger window can blank out the screen completely on a sunny day. Window tint in NY is outlawed. Is there any product to put on the screen? Any suggestion would help.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/9/2017

    Mark, we don't carry an add-on product like you describe, but if you haven't already you may want to adjust the angle of the screen. The bottom of the touchscreen monitor can be tilted upward at six different positions to provide the best visibility in your vehicle (you can save any one of these positions to the head unit's memory).

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/9/2017

    Roberto, if you haven't adjusted the brightness (1-10) of the head unit's display already, you may want to select a different color to see if that might make a difference. Unfortunately, this is a common complaint with this style of head unit (hence our tips in the video).

  • Michael from Knoxville

    Posted on 10/11/2017

    I have a Pioneer FH-X820BS, probably similar to Roberto's 730, and like him I cannot see the display in the sunlight. The brightness is all the way up, and I'm using the brightest color it has to offer, so I don't know what to do either. Spending money on a new head unit is not an option for me at this time. Alexander Hrabe, thanks for your replies on this topic. It's always good to know someones cares enough to listen and reply :). I was wondering if Crutchfiled does not carry an add-on product like Mark described because y'all have not looked, or have not found one that works to your standards of quality? Also, is there a brand or brands (or a certain subsection or series of a brand) that typically do better in sunlight? I have read on here that Kenwood seems to be one of the worst brands for this problem.

  • Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/16/2017

    Michael, I contacted our Car Audio buyer for the best answer and he tells me that no vendor does this demonstrably better in this category. Kenwood has improved their displays but it's not perfect for everyone. Depending on the dash, angle, and install, results can vary. The only thing that is notably better are our Single Din receivers focused on ATV, Powersports, and Marine. They have a white background/black letter display which is easy to read. We haven't seen that design come to current Double Dins, however, and the only other option would be to go with a touchscreen which would be a different category and price point usually. Regarding a product that might help with glare: 3M has a universal rectangle that can be cut to fit a radio display with some success; however, we don't see any options from them to be custom made to our radio displays.

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