- Enjoy robust multimedia features with AppRadio functionality
- Intuitive user interface and touchscreen controls
- Pandora Radio Ready for iPhone
- 3 RCA Preouts (2V) and Navigation Ready
- 6.1-inch WVGA touchscreen with 16 9 aspect ratio
I bought this unit to install in my Toyota Sequoia. I searched everywhere for this unit finally found it on Amazon for less than $250. The install was simple and the unit looks good I’m my Toyota.
This is the newer version of the AVH-1400DVD with a bigger screen (6.1 versus 5.8), The mixtrax, and the ability to use App Radio a huge plus for me so basically you get the App Radio and all the other features of The AVH-1400DVD for the same price.
To use the App radio you have to get the Pioneer CDIOU201S cable and hook it up to the rear of the radio. If you want the ability to use the apps and watching a DVD without having the vehicle parked I would get the Microbypass interface also an easy install.
I’ve had this deck for over a month and I get a lot of comments, the deck sounds great running on my factory speakers. I recommend this deck for anyone looking for a nice deck for a cheap price.
Preface: Do you like to read books? If so then this review is for you! LOL
*Screen is high resolution, vivid color reproduction.
*A lot of features and capability for the price. This radio is a good bargain.
*Good audio quality (with the exception of Mixtrax see below).
*Multiple A/V inputs for various external sources.
*FM radio reception is sub-standard.
*Limited video codec / container format support.
*No line-level audio output for external LCD panels with IR headphones.
*Very little GUI customization basically just background picture and some predefined color schemes.
*Sluggish GUI response compared to modern tablets and cell phones.
*No Android phone support at all, only interfaces with specific older models of iPhone.
*Volume controls cannot be accessed by feel, and the mute button is often hit by accident.
I’ve had this radio installed for a couple months now. Let me start off by saying I’m a bit of a technophile I like electronics, and I’m also a software developer. So I have rather high standards for both hardware and software. Perhaps I nitpick more than most, but at least you’ll find a number of details about this radio (specifically, things it cannot do or does not do well) that you may not find elsewhere. I originally rated this radio as 4/5 stars after installing, but I’ve bumped it down to 3/5 after becoming more familiar with the various limitations. I don’t think many of these limitations are specific to this model more than likely they also apply to the more expensive Bluetooth model, etc.
I bought this radio for the more “advanced” things it can do. Like playing movies and TV shows off of external drives, hooking car PCs up to it, etc. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what it does well, because I think other reviewers have covered the positives. I’m going to point out some negatives that I did not discover until actually using the unit.
I planned on plugging my 1 TB external HDD into the radio, and thus always having full access to the huge number of TV shows and movies without having to swap discs or even USB drives. Unfortunately the radio would not recognize the drive at all. After some digging through the specifications I found that the radio only works with FAT and FAT32 formatted drives, and most large drives are pre-formatted NTFS, which the radio will not recognize. You will have to reformat your drive to FAT32 if you want to use it with this radio so be warned before you spend many hours loading it up with files.
**USB Audio playback
This portion of the radio is decent. You can throw your MP3, etc, music files into folders on your USB drive, and the radio plays them back. Now, as other reviewers have noted, the radio is very strange about listing that music when you’re looking at the files directly. It does not sort by file name (actually it doesn’t sort by anything at all, which is the oddity). Instead it lists files in the order they were copied onto the drive. So for all intents and purposes, the files appear randomly when viewing them directly. The solution is to create a music database. This is done by pushing a single button, which prompts the radio to find every song, extract the song info (title, album, artist, etc), and create a database. Once you’ve done that the songs are properly sorted by title as one would expect. Any album art is also displayed, which prompted me to go back and spend the time to fix up a number of my MP3s, as when I ripped music way back when I didn’t bother including album art. It’s nice seeing the album picture of the current song that’s one of my favorite things about having an LCD display for a radio.
If you make any changes to the music on your USB drive the radio will recognize the change, and ask you if you want to rebuild the music database again. I’m just not sure why it can’t do all this automatically in the background, which would also solve the oddity I mentioned above about the file sorting.
When playing an MP3 the radio shows two small icons a folder icon and a music icon and next to each is the folder number and song number. So if you are on song 5 of a particular folder, it will show a 5 next to the music icon. What the radio does not do, and what I really miss, is that it doesn’t show you the total number of songs in the current folder. So I know I’m on song 5, but out of how many? Most people rip their CDs into folders, that way you can jump from folder to folder to move from album to album. I want to see 5/14, to know I’m on the 5th song of 14.
**USB video playback
Video playback is one of the main purposes I chose a radio with a huge color screen. After all, if I only wanted to listen to music, I could’ve saved money and gone with something with easier to use physical controls (like a volume knob, etc). Unfortunately video play back is only mediocre with this radio. It does not recognize a number of popular video container formats, like 3GP, MP4 and MKV. It won’t even list files with those extensions. Considering those are the video formats used by mobile electronics like smart phones and tablets, it is rather inconvenient that the radio cannot play them.
I tried playing an AVI with DIVX video encoding and MP3 192kbps audio. For some reason it says “Unsupported audio format” and plays only the video. It does properly play a video with a 110kbps audio stream, so perhaps it doesn’t play 192kbps? I’ve got a couple other AVI files that it says it cannot read as well. I have yet to figure out the exact limitations as far as bitrate, etc, that the radio does not support. I have a series of videos that will play correctly only if started from the beginning and allowed to play without interruption. As soon as I seek, or if the video has to resume (like when turning the car off and back on) then the audio will no longer play. I have to seek back to the very beginning of the video, and only then will the audio play (and will only continue to play if uninterrupted).
It does play many of my other videos perfectly, however I was disappointed early on with the number of videos that it cannot play. I was hoping for better versatility and compatibility in this day and age. Reencoding videos is not a fun nor fast process.
Did you notice above, where I mentioned the oddity of how the Pioneer does not sort files by name, and they appear in the order they were copied onto the USB drive? That applies to videos too, however in this case it’s much worse, because there isn’t any database function for videos! So that means whenever you navigate videos, the order of the files is essentially random. I have a folder full of Spongebob episodes for my preschooler. When I go into that folder they aren’t sorted neatly by season and episode, as I have them named. It’s just a hodgepodge of randomness. That is not cool.
The JPEG picture loading is rather slow (scans down the screen from top to bottom over the course of a second or two). There is also a noticeable flickering in areas of the picture with fine detail. I think the screen might be interlaced and renders every other line each pass, which causes flickering where there are pronounced horizontal lines in the picture.
The GUI is only moderately responsive (don’t think it’s super smooth like an iPhone or modern Android phone the scrolling menus, etc, are laggy). It is definitely faster than the older model AVH-P1400DVD my local Walmart has on display (for $80 more too, LOL). However it is still somewhat laggy when scrolling up and down through song lists. When you navigate from one folder to another there is a delay as the files appear one at a time.
I’m disappointed in the lack of customization in the GUI. For example I can’t control what kind of information is displayed or where, or font sizes, etc. There are only a handful of color schemes to choose from (5 I think, just your basic colors), and just a few animated backgrounds. The Spectrum Analyzer animated background lags behind the actual music so bad that at first I thought it was just purely random motion, until I looked closely and saw that it did seem to crudely follow the music to some extent. If you enable the Spectrum Analyzer background then it automatically disables the album cover art picture (the SA animation is shown in its place). Since the cover art display is one of my favorite things about having a full screen LCD radio, well, that’s two strikes against the Spectrum Analyzer for me.
For its size, the screen is high enough resolution to look sharp and clear. I would consider it a “retina” display simply because it is far enough away from your eyes (unlike cell phones and tablets, which you use closer to your face) that it isn’t possible to make out individual pixels. It is very crisp and clear. The previous generation to the AVH-X1500 DVD (the AVH-P1400 DVD) has a much lower resolution screen that looks very pixelated, so the display on this radio is a big improvement.
One downside is the polarization. If you wear a good pair of polarized sunglasses you will find that the display is quite dark. If I tilt my head just slightly to the right the polarization lines up with that of the display and it becomes completely black. If I tilt my head a little to the left of center the display becomes brighter. The display polarization should have been aligned optimally with this in mind that many people would be viewing it with polarized sunglasses. Thus the display is much harder to see in daylight with polarized sunglasses than non-polarized sunglasses.
The backlight is normally plenty bright for daytime use. However, the display backlight becomes dimmer when your headlights are on as it should so you aren’t blinded by it at night. The problem is that the dimming level is fixed. It’s all or nothing if the car lights are on the display dims to a preset level. The radio ignores the variable dimmer control of your vehicle (and mine is definitely wired correctly). So in those situations when it’s bright out but you need to use your headlights (like wet road conditions, rain, etc), the radio display will become too dim to see very well. I’ve had to use my headlights even when I needed to wear my sunglasses, and in that case the display is completely impossible to see. If the radio had proper variable lighting then you could turn up your gauge dimmer all the way and the radio brightness would also be at maximum, but Pioneer cut corners on that one.
The color of the buttons along the left edge of the radio are customizable, in that you can adjust the RGB color (there are at least a couple hundred colors to choose from there is a single slider the width of the screen that spans the spectrum, but you cannot set RGB intensities individually). However, the buttons’ backlight completely ignores the dimmer / headlight level. Only the screen backlight gets dimmer when your headlights are on the physical buttons always remain at full brightness. You cannot control the brightness of the buttons at all, only the color. Thus at night they are pretty bright brighter than my gauges or anything else on my dash. This is another area Pioneer cut corners with this radio. I was able to pretty closely match the color of the other gauges in my vehicle (kind of a pale green color), which was nice. I just wish they dimmed with the vehicle’s variable dimmer as most radios do.
*The Mute button is directly below the Volume Down button and is easy to hit by accident. I’ve muted it by accident many times when I was just trying to turn it down a little. Physically there isn’t any kind of bump or divider separating the volume and mute buttons the whole thing is perfectly smooth across all 3 buttons. I’m very surprised that a company like Pioneer, who has been making car radios for decades, could have designed a radio with volume controls that cannot be used by feel and thus require the driver to stare at the radio to make sure they press the right area. I could understand if the volume control was part of the touch screen and virtual, but it is not, yet Pioneer did not take advantage of having physical controls by making them easy to use by touch.
If you press the Mute button again it unmutes the radio and it returns to the previous volume level. However, an oddity is that when the radio is muted and you press Volume Up or Volume Down the volume jumps down to 0. Coupled with how easy it is to accidentally press Mute instead of Volume Down, that gets rather annoying. If I accidentally press Mute, then hit Volume Down or Up and then I have to scroll all the way back up to my previous volume level manually. I think pressing Volume Up or Down should just unmute and go back to the previous level.
*The eject button does not function when the vehicle is off. I guess that’s either good or bad depending on your personal preference. The OEM radio the Pioneer replaced could eject when the car was off (and it was a 6 disc changer), which was convenient to run out to the car and grab a CD without having to mess with the keys. On the other hand, perhaps it’s good that the disc can’t be ejected without the keys, as a security type thing.
*Radio reception is markedly worse than the OEM radio this Pioneer replaced, or the factory radio in my Nissan Quest, or any of the other vehicles I’ve operated. One particular station I’ve listened to regularly for the last 20 years has so much static that I can no longer listen to it. When I installed an external LCD screen I had to pull the radio out to hook it up, so I took that opportunity to make sure the antenna connector was well seated I hoped that perhaps it just wasn’t plugged in properly and that was causing the poor reception. Unfortunately the antenna connection wasn’t the problem the radio just has suboptimal FM reception. This is one of the reasons I reduced my rating from 4 stars to 3.
I installed a Performance Teknique Icbm-9939 12.2″ Ceiling Mount Flip-down Monitor (see my review of that product it’s a good LCD for the money) for the kids to watch movies in the back seat. The good is that the video output works exactly as expected. Further, if you connect an external A/V source (like a game system the Wii is 12V which makes it well suited for car use) the radio will pass that video through to the external A/V output too. I was a little concerned it wouldn’t but that works as it should.
HOWEVER, there is a major, major limitation when it comes to using an external LCD with this radio. Most car LCD monitors have wireless infrared audio output, which allows people in the back to listen to the audio with wireless headphones so everyone else doesn’t have to hear it too. Here’s the problem with the Pioneer it has no fixed-level audio output (at least none that I could find). What this means is that if you run your audio output line to the LCD panel, as I have done, then when you turn the volume down or mute the radio, it also affects the output volume to the LCD panel and thus to the headphones. In other words, it is impossible to have the kids listen to a movie using only headphones so the driver doesn’t have to hear it. Now, I anticipated up front that the Pioneer was not advanced enough to work as the OEM radio in my Nissan Quest, which allows the kids to listen to a movie via headphones while the speakers play something entirely different out loud, like the radio or CD. I figured the Pioneer could not do that, and it doesn’t. But the fact that the wireless headphone capability of my LCD panel is totally useless because of the Pioneer is a big let down. There’s no point in the kids using headphones when the movie has to be blaring out the speakers for them to work.
When turning the car on, the radio start up time is fair, but not great. For example if you were playing a movie off of a DVD or USB drive it will have to reload / buffer the movie, which takes a few seconds. I have a Nissan Quest with a factory entertainment system and it always resumes instantly (I assume it buffers several seconds of the DVD into memory). The Pioneer does not work that smoothly there is a few second delay.
Some reviews have complained about the radio “forgetting” what MP3 it was last playing when you start the car. I have also seen this many times now. It seems to me that the radio only occasionally saves the current place in a song. When you start the car all power to the radio is pulled abruptly, and it doesn’t have time to save the current position. So when it powers back on it has to resume to wherever it saved last. Often that means it jumps back into the song you played before the last one. Yeah, that’s annoying. It doesn’t do it every time though. Maybe one of four times I start the car.
Pioneer Mixtrax on this radio is a complete joke. I really don’t know why they wasted time developing this, because to me it is useless. What it is supposed to do is analyze your music, find songs with a similar tempo, then kind of jump from one song to another and mix them up. It has various audio effects (some of which are pretty cool) to “blend” from one song to another. You can set it to play a song for up to a certain amount of time say 45 seconds then it will jump to another song. Now, for starters, the type of music I listen to is not conducive to this. Maybe it is useful for dance or rave music or something that’s pure beat, but for 90% of “normal” music, it’s simply annoying. Nothing is as grating as getting into the flow of a song to have it abruptly yanked out from under you.
So what I did was set Mixtrax to always play the entire song, that way at least I could make use of the neat transition effects from one song to another. I discovered 2 major issues with this. First of all, it still cuts off a significant portion of the song it lops off a full 20 seconds off the end of the song. Now, when I’m listening to Norwegian Wood and I don’t get to hear where Lennon burns down his girlfriend’s flat because she made him sleep in the bathtub well, that messes up my day. So it’s a nonstarter for me right there because it still truncates the music.
But here’s the real killer Mixtrax destroys the music fidelity. If you have this radio then listen to a song with good highs and lows, and turn Mixtrax on and off and on and off and listen closely. It totally cuts off the highs and the lows. It just kills the fidelity entirely. I think I know why when Mixtrax is running the radio as to reprocess all the audio on the fly that is how it adds effects to the song. The CPU / software in the radio is simply not powerful enough, so the bitrate has to be reduced and thus the fidelity is destroyed.
So even for those of you that listen to the exact right kind of music that Mixtrax would be useful for, it’s no good because it greatly reduces the audio quality of the music.
The radio has 3 different inputs for A/V:
*Aux input, which is just audio only. This is for plugging into the headphone jack of your iPod, phone, etc, so you can play the audio out of the radio. That works fine, and is nice when I want to stream some internet radio station from my phone through my radio. The audio was good and clear sounded great.
*A/V input, which is full video and audio input. I use the A/V input to hook up a Raspberry Pi computer to it. You can also hook up things like Wiis, XBox, etc anything with a video output. As I mention above, this is passed through to the Video Output too, so it can be viewed on external LCDs if you have them installed. It would be nice to be able to change the A/V button’s icon in the menu. The icon is a video camera, and I’m not sure how many people would be plugging video cameras into their car radio, so it’s probably not very applicable.
*Rear view camera. I have not hooked one up yet, but the radio will automatically switch to this video source when you put it in reverse (if you have that wired to the radio). It is nice having that independent of the A/V input so you can use both a backup camera and game system / computer without having to unplug things back and forth.
I have an iPad, but I haven’t bothered buying the expensive Pioneer App cable to hook it up to the radio. There’s not much point in doing so since my iPad doesn’t have 3G data, so I can’t listen to Pandora through it anyway. However, I do have a Samsung Galaxy S3, which I cannot connect because Pioneer was too cheap to create the software to allow it. Pioneer does have units that work with Android phones, but not this one. Either Pioneer wants to save money by not bothering with the most popular smartphone in the world (Android holds 75% of the phone market), or Apple paid them money not to. Either way, Pioneer is saving money at our expense by not supporting Android.
Pioneer offers the AVIC-U250 Add-on Navigation System , which adds GPS navigation to this head unit. However, it costs $320, which is 150% of what I paid for the radio itself. Plus, given all the GUI deficiencies the radio has, I don’t trust Pioneer to make a GPS that’s half decent.
Love this receiver! I have no problem with my iPhone 5 hooking up to it with the ipod connector that came with it.
If you plan to use this radio with a iPhone 5 it will not work. It does not support the new iPhone 5 cable and not play music through your iPhone.
Just installed this in a 2002 F150 this weekend. It will fit but with some modification to the inside of the dash. Wiring harness was easy and color coded the same as the harness for the vehicle. Wire ends could have been pre stripped but no big deal. Also got the parking brake override from amazon and that was easy to install when hooking up the wiring harnesses. The aux jack is in the rear of the unit so I picked up a male to male 3.5 mm stereo wire (6ft) from walmart and ran it through the cup holder compartment. Picture quality is great, but gets a little washed out from the sun as they all do. Overall, for the price, this unit is great. Pieces not included but recomended: Vehicle specific harness-$5 on amazon. Vehicle specific face plate trim-$10 amazon. Parking brake override $15-20 amazon. 6foot aux cable $5 walmart but could probably find it on amazon. Not difficult to install but dont try it if you dont have the right tools and some basic knowledge of how things work