Pandora has overtaken the Kenwood’s 2011 lineup with 9 new radios offering control over Pandora on your iPhone.
Particularly sexy are a handful of in-dash navigation decks that give you touch control over Pandora from the radio screen. All the new in-dash navigation units include free live Navteq traffic. They are satellite and HD Radio-ready and let you make phone calls without losing your view of the navi map due to a split screen function. The exception is the DNX9980 that has built-in HD Radio (where others are only HD Radio-ready). It also has Parrot stereo Bluetooth and voice command control and twin iPod AV control. You operate iPod video and iPod audio as separate sources. The DNX9980 is expected to ship in March at a suggested $2,000.
The lower end of the in-dash navi line starts with the DNX5180 for $1,150—about the same starting price as last year’s lineup.
Also new this year under the Excelon line is an OEM replacement speaker system. It’s a 7-inch speaker with universal adapter so it can fit holes from 6.5 to 6 by 9 inches. It gives you “a much better woofer and much better tweeter,” than factory speakers, says Kenwood. The KFC-X183C at $180 SRP fits in Chevrolet, GM, Toyota, Dodge, Chrysler and other vehicles. You get a 2-way speaker system with a 1-inch soft dome tweeter and diamond-array pattern woofer cone. It should be available in February.
Under Excelon are CD players from $190 to $380, all with optional steering wheel control and some with Bluetooth with external mics. The top of the line KDC-X995 has built-in HD Radio and Bluetooth by Parrot, plus built in Pandora link. It ships in March. At the low end, Excelon receivers start at $30 below last year’s entry price of $220.
There are 7 new standard Kenwood CD receivers. The standout piece is the KDC-HD548U ($200 SRP), which is a replacement for the successful KDC-HD545U (the top selling CD receiver with HD Radio as per NPD, April through October 2010, said Kenwood). It gets a dedicated HD Radio iTunes tagging button on the face right next to the volume knob. It should be available in February.
Two new CD-less decks can work with a Zune as well as an iPod or iPhone. You get a 3-inch color TFT on the face and iPod video playback plus Pandora control. Both models support a backup camera. The KIV-BT901 has built-in Bluetooth with external microphone at $500 and the KIV-701 is identical but lacks Bluetooth at $450. Shipping is in April.