PROS: Superb audio, terrific bluetooth calling, supports CD, USB and bluetooth music streaming
CONS: Dim display, clunky navigation of music folders
I just got this yesterday so I have limited experience. I will update if my experience changes. I had technicians install this for me. I could have done it myself, but once I reviewed the instructions on installing, I have to say that I'm glad I didn't. Probably would have taken me a lot longer, and a lot more frustration. But if you're into that kind of thing, I don't think this would be a terribly difficult unit to install.
Sound quality is terrific. I put this into a 2000 Accord with the original four speakers. The original stereo wasn't bad, but this sounds much better. Clarity and separation of the instruments is phenomenal. You really get a sense of presence, as if you're in a concert hall. I'm no audiophile snob; I don't need a super high-end stereo. So I when I say the quality is better, you can be sure--it's really better. I'm very pleased by this, but not surprised. It's what I expect from Pioneer. My experience has been that they make affordable, excellent audio equipment.
Bluetooth pairing was a snap. It took a bit of fiddling with the menus, but now I have six phone numbers preset. It read the phonebook from my Droid X without a hitch. Hands-free calling is easy, and the sound quality is perfect. The microphone is installed on the windshield to the left, out of the way but properly placed. The phone pauses the music and plays a configurable chime when someone is calling, and the lights on the stereo flash. I couldn't be happier with bluetooth phone operations.
Playback is good, but it appears that with both Bluetooth streaming and USB, it moves through your folders in the order of the date that the folders were created. You can have a folder hierarchy on your USB drive, but that's not something you navigate through the stereo. This is kind of disappointing. It means that you have to create the folders in the order you want them to be navigated. But that's doable. And I have yet to see any car audio that has a sensible, useful way to navigate through folders. Maybe if I were using an iPod or iPhone through bluetooth, navigation would be better, I don't know.
If you connect your phone to the USB port, it both charges and plays music from the phone at the same time. I did see one time so far when I turned off the car, and turned it back on, and I got an error message when it tried to read the phone. Disconnecting and reconnecting fixed that.
The display is not very bright. You have to set the color to white or some other bright color, and then it's at least visible in daylight. But if direct daylight is shining right on it, you probably won't be able to see anything. I guess that's going to be true of any LED, and points out the value of an LCD display. But I first had the color set to a dark green, and that was almost entirely visible in daylight, even without the sun shining on it. Changing to white made a huge difference. Less than ideal but acceptable.
It has a goofy "Mixtrax" feature that I'll never ever use, so I won't review that.
The menu system is not terribly intuitive, and the volume knob is also the "Master Control", so if you press it when you're adjusting the volume, you jump into a menu, which is not what you intended. You have to press and hold a Source button to turn it on and off, and that's also a bit annoying, but not a big deal. But it should have a simply "on-off" switch.
The unit also has a 3.5mm auxiliary jack that I haven't even tried yet, but it could be handy if you want to hook up an MP3 player that has no bluetooth. I will just have one or more USB drives with zillions of albums and books.
Tuning the stations was fairly straightforward and easy. You get 18 FM and 6 AM presets. This means that I can tune a dozen local FM stations, and then when I drive 90 minutes away for the weekend (as I often do), I still have six presets for stations in that area.
Oh and of course it does have a CD player. My goal is never to use it, though. But if I do, it does support MP3, so I could fit a lot of music on just one disc.
Overall it's a very good stereo for the price, if you can live with the somewhat dim display.
Two things. First, I found that I can make a kind of playlist just by putting whatever I want into a single folder. So that's good.
Second, I have to say that, although the display is too dim during the day, it's too bright at night. You can set a custom color for the "key" color (these are the parts of the unit that put out light, apart from the text), and you can set the brightness for red, green and blue. But at least one of them must have a brightness of at least 20. This is unfortunate and annoying. I would put them all down to about 5 if I could. I have found that I can put red and green at fairly low levels, and leave blue at 20, and I get a kind of pastel, purplish color that may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but is the least irritating at night. It's just barely acceptable.
I may go so far as to paint over some of the light-emitting "trim" to push down the brightness even further. I can't imagine why Pioneer designed this unit this way.
Oh and by the way, even if you turn the unit off...the light still shines! So short of removing the front of the unit, you have no options.