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XAV-701HD Testing and Conclusion

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To further test out the functionality of the Sony XAV-701HD, I played several CD's, including some from The Letter Black and Switchfoot. As I alluded to earlier, the newly-installed Sony XAV-601BT greatly enhanced the definition of even the factory speakers on this F150 truck. It was hard to believe that you could get additional detail and resolution from a "simple" A/V receiver upgrade, but that may tell you just how poorly-designed and underpowered the factory systems are in these vehicles. When you place a real system that can output some serious watts to the speakers, they come alive—at least to the their maximum potential. I really can't wait to see what this receiver does with new speakers.

remote control

It even has a credit card-style remote control. Best to store this in the glove box.

We also popped in some DVDs, including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Incredibles. The 800x480 screen is by no means reference, but I could appreciate the decent off-axis horizontal viewing angle which allowed both the passenger and driver (and passengers!) to enjoy the video when the vehicle was parked. Black levels were acceptably dark, but still tinged gray as you'd expect from a 7" vehicular touchscreen. Contrast was also so-so, but certainly not below average for this type of screen. Once a movie begins playing, and certainly during any navigation or OSD use, there really isn't any negative perceptions of the contrast—everything is very clear and well-defined.

disc insertion

In addition to the CDs I also queued up some music I had stored on a USB thumb drive and also streamed Internet radio from Pandora. The Pandora controls are easy to use and it took no time at all to bring up some of my favorite home-brewed radio stations. Of course, the HD Radio tuner was also a favorite of mine, allowing me to also use the radio's iTunes Tagging feature. I've found this to be incredibly helpful in building and expanding my music collection—it's a feature that's far underutilized by many and one that I feel should be better integrated into more devices. While you can't do much to customize the menus and icons, you can adjust the button colors and specify wallpaper backgrounds and moving visualizations while music is playing. All of this is both entertaining and it allows you some control over matching the interior lighting of your vehicle. One other feature that will help keep this A/V receiver at the top of its game is the ability to update the firmware via thumb drive. Updates are made available by Sony on their website and you can use the cable connected to the unit to feed it the data from the USB drive.

Conclusion

With an easy to use graphical user interface, three-dimensional screen visualizers, and ultra-fast GUI response, the new Sony XAV-701HD In-Dash A/V Receiver is an easy choice if you're looking to upgrade your stock system or even an older touch screen head unit. I love how well this receiver interfaces with the iPhone (and it's no slouch with Android) and also the Telenav Navigation app is superb. It was great to see how a $10 yearly investment could turn this A/V receiver into a full-blown navigation system that rivals just about any standalone GPS I've used recently. For those looking to take advantage of MirrorLink, you may need to wait a bit—unless you own one of the few phones that support it at this time. Even without a direct smartphone connection, Bluetooth connectivity was excellent and consistent for both music and hands-free calling. All in all, I really liked how the Sony XAV-701HD sounded, functioned, and also how it looked once it was installed. It's beautiful and gave the rather utilitarian interior on this F150 a major style upgrade.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Two-channel Audio PerformanceStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
Ease of SetupStarStarStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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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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