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XAV-701HD Features and Overview

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I first got interested in car audio about two years after I started getting interested in home audio - that was more than a couple of decades ago. Basically, that meant that it took me two long years to get frustrated enough at just how bad my vehicle sounded to do anything about. That's two years to hold my car audio in comparison to my home theater. In hindsight, it's amazing that it took me so long to actually do something about it. Once my convictions about good audio reached a boiling point, I got my first aftermarket car stereo, an Alpine that had all the bells and whistles (which, for 1991 wasn't all that much to be honest). Still, it was light years better than the stock radio in my 1984 Honda Accord.

Times have changed and stereos have gotten more sophisticated, with the leading brands leap-frogging each other in terms of advanced offerings and high quality components. Fast-forward to 2012 and I'm staring at the new Sony XAV-701HD in-dash A/V receiver. This unit has a lot to offer today's tech-savvy customer. With all kinds of smartphone connectivity, it makes this unit an easy choice for those looking to upgrade their vehicle's factory system. And if I can give you a piece of advice—don't waste precious years convincing yourself that it's OK to endure a badly-designed stock car audio system. Change it out while you still have ears to hear.

This particular double-din Sony receiver comes with a large 7" WVGA touchscreen that is both easy on the eyes and has menus and controls that are a cinch to navigate. There are only a few physical buttons and they are lined up along the bottom of the screen, something that leaves the installed look very clean and elegant. Probably my favorite feature is the dedicated RC-300IPCV connector for the iPhone that turns the XAV-701HD into a turn-by-turn navigation system, courtesy of Telenav—but more on that later.

sources

Connectivity for any smartphone (iPhone, Android, etc) is possible though Bluetooth and USB. There are two wired USB plugs that allow you to connect, control and charge your compatible USB device. The Sony XAV-701HD can access your digital music files including album art and metadata and will even work with USB thumb drives loaded with music. But the Bluetooth connectivity goes even further in that it allows you to stream Pandora radio or simply the music on your phone without having to be physically connected. This is going to especially appeal to those of you with unlimited data plans. Since the XAV-701HD comes with Pandora installed, it's easy to interface with your account.

Pandora

The other thing the Sony offers—and this is more impressive for people doing a first-time upgrade to a modern car receiver—is hands free calling. With the XAV-701HD, you can to download your phone book to the receiver and make calls without much hassle or even a complicated setup. We found the included hands-free microphone to be clear and most of my friends and family, some local, some as far away as Alaska, agreed. Part of this is because Sony integrated echo and noise canceling circuitry into the system that makes conversations sound just as good as holding the handset. We mounted out microphone at the top left of the windshield, removing the A pillar and running the mic cable within. Sony gives you plenty of length to do this and it's just a great way to get your mic properly positioned and yet out of the way.

MirrorLink - Like It, Love It...? It Doesn't Matter Because You Probably Can't Use it Yet
Possibly the biggest buzz about the Sony XAV-701HD is the built in MirrorLink technology developed by the Car Connectivity Consortium. The idea behind this is that, with a smartphone, you can mirror the screen of the phone directly to the display of the receiver. Approved applications and features from the phone would then be accessible from the receiver—including media players and navigation. On paper this sounds awesome. In reality, well, this technology is still pretty new and there is only a short list of approved phones...in fact, 9 in the known universe at the time of this review. If more phone manufacturers partner up and get their new devices approved, then MirrorLink can potentially be a real game-changer for the car audio market. It's just disappointing that MirrorLink doesn't support Apple phones, nor does it seem to work with the latest Samsung devices you see advertised on TV every day (save the solitary Galaxy S III). You can check the the Sony website for a current list of the applicable phones that, currently, includes 8 Symbian OS models from Nokia and the Samsung.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

2qk4u posts on May 14, 2013 17:49
GadgetmanNH, post: 943635
I wanted a good aftermarket stereo for my Lexus RX to add nav, bluetooth and a backup camera. So far this one is working out quite well. There are a few irritating things about this unit, but maybe firmware updates will correct them over time. I used the Metra harness/face plate, Metra steering wheel interface, and generic backup cam. All works well.

Pros:

- Fast and modern interface
- iPhone Pandora, Telnav and music support.
- HD radio built in.
- Great bluetooth handsfree.
- Android support once Mirrorlink is better supported by phones.
- Ability to access music in many ways: CD, HD radio, thumb drive playback, iPhone connection, bluetooth streaming.
- iPhone cable is included and not an additional purchase.
- Resumes last playback source and location.
- Ability to customize guide lines on backup cam screen.
- Home screen wallpaper customization.
- Built in animated backgrounds for source playback screens.


Cons:

- MirrorLink not supported yet (not Sony's fault).
- Sometimes it seems there should be a “return” button to return to a previous screen (usually there is, but in seems like it should not be necessary to return to home and then select back to a source).
- No mute button or function.
- No ability to re-organised source buttons or hide ones not used.
- Add-on nav box is hard to find or discontinued. It would be nice to have if smartphone is lost or not available.
- No ability to change source playback backgrounds other than built in animated screens.
- No calendar (it would be nice to have a calendar that would sync with smartphone and show reminders).


do you have the iphone cable bychance and not using it? i really need one and got my radio second hand and that person didnt have the cable. if you are not using it i would like to buy it from you if i can. please let me know. thanks
2qk4u posts on May 14, 2013 17:49
dennisdh, post: 966497
I just installed the xev-701hd unit plus backup camera. When using a S3 phone as nav in mirror link and drive link you are unable to listen to any source while navigating. I spoke with crutchfield and sony and they both confirmed that is the case. I also tried to find the external nav unit that plugs into the receiver but it has been discontinued and is not available anywhere online. Sony claims telenav works nut only on an iphone.

do you have the iphone cable bychance and not using it? i really need one and got my radio second hand and that person didnt have the cable. if you are not using it i would like to buy it from you if i can. please let me know. thanks
dennisdh posts on April 30, 2013 19:16
Sony xev-701hd can't navigate and listen to anything

I just installed the xev-701hd unit plus backup camera. When using a S3 phone as nav in mirror link and drive link you are unable to listen to any source while navigating. I spoke with crutchfield and sony and they both confirmed that is the case. I also tried to find the external nav unit that plugs into the receiver but it has been discontinued and is not available anywhere online. Sony claims telenav works nut only on an iphone.
GadgetmanNH posts on January 14, 2013 05:36
So far a great stereo

I wanted a good aftermarket stereo for my Lexus RX to add nav, bluetooth and a backup camera. So far this one is working out quite well. There are a few irritating things about this unit, but maybe firmware updates will correct them over time. I used the Metra harness/face plate, Metra steering wheel interface, and generic backup cam. All works well.

Pros:

- Fast and modern interface
- iPhone Pandora, Telnav and music support.
- HD radio built in.
- Great bluetooth handsfree.
- Android support once Mirrorlink is better supported by phones.
- Ability to access music in many ways: CD, HD radio, thumb drive playback, iPhone connection, bluetooth streaming.
- iPhone cable is included and not an additional purchase.
- Resumes last playback source and location.
- Ability to customize guide lines on backup cam screen.
- Home screen wallpaper customization.
- Built in animated backgrounds for source playback screens.


Cons:

- MirrorLink not supported yet (not Sony's fault).
- Sometimes it seems there should be a “return” button to return to a previous screen (usually there is, but in seems like it should not be necessary to return to home and then select back to a source).
- No mute button or function.
- No ability to re-organised source buttons or hide ones not used.
- Add-on nav box is hard to find or discontinued. It would be nice to have if smartphone is lost or not available.
- No ability to change source playback backgrounds other than built in animated screens.
- No calendar (it would be nice to have a calendar that would sync with smartphone and show reminders).
sholling posts on December 04, 2012 00:13
It looks pretty interesting. I've been casually looking replacements for my factory unit and my local installer tried to sell me a Sony but I don't recall what model. The only thing that it seemed to be missing was seamless integration with the car's factory steering wheel controls. So far I've only seen that on Alpines.
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