DNX9140By Gideon V. – Sonic Electronix Editor

If you are on the lookout for a fabulous in-dash navigation receiver, the Kenwood eXcelon DNX-9140 is a great choice! When it comes to car stereos, this in-dash DVD/CD/MP3 receiver is at the top of the list. Featuring a 6.95” touchscreen, this car stereo has a sleek faceplate design exempt of the customary cluster of buttons and knobs. Navigating through a car stereo’s menu options has never been easier. Of course, the ridiculously advanced voice command feature means you probably won’t even want to touch dial. You can use either to make hands-free phone calls with the built-in Bluetooth technology by Parrot. And that’s only barely tapping into this stereo’s “wow” factor.

You can operate the DNX-9140 just by talking to it. With technology like that, even Batman would be envious of this head unit. Imagine getting GPS navigation directions without typing an address. How about finding a song on your iPod without thumbing through your entire music library? Or audibly telling your stereo to switch from the radio to playing your iPod? The voice command software lets you do all of the above. The ultra thin microphone uses noise cancellation technology to allow you to clearly relay your commands, even on the road. This ultimate hands-free device is a must if you are looking for a smarter, safer way to drive.

As mentioned in the intro, this Kenwood stereo has integrated Parrot Bluetooth technology. This outstanding hands-free interface is compatible with most cell phones, and even smartphones like the iPod and BlackBerry. The stereo will mute the volume as a call is dialed in. Upon answering your call, the caller’s voice feeds into your stereo speakers. You will not have to hold any phones or fumble with any wires as the Bluetooth microphone will pick up your voice while you drive. Another Jetsons-like feature is the Bluetooth music streaming technology, which allows you to stream music from any Bluetooth phone or laptop without connecting any wires. This would even leave George Jetson impressed!

With all of the above mentioned, naturally there must be some kind of weakness that has been overlooked, right? What about the GPS navigation feature? Thanks for asking. The built-in GPS navigation is designed by one of the finest providers of navigation software, the Garmin navigation company. As a result, you get an extremely accurate system that will not lag while loading points of interest, new addresses and alternative routes. It is MSN Direct and TMC Traffic ready, meaning you can add on these extremely useful data software programs for all of the latest traffic updates. For your safety, this unit is engaged with roadside assistance, a big help in times of emergency.

The fun doesn’t stop there either. You can connect your iPod or iPhone through the optional Kenwood KCA-IP301V iPod adapter. The DNX-9140 also offers two rear USB inputs, perfect for connecting portable MP3 players or thumb drives. It is also compatible with a rear backup camera and steering wheel interface for retaining your vehicle’s factory steering wheel controls. Though adding a HD radio tuner or satellite radio tuner may seem like overkill at this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the DNX-9140 is also fully compatible with both of these expandability options. Besides, it doesn’t get much better than a motorized touchscreen unit with tons of expandability options. By the way, if you’re just not a touchscreen type of person, you can control the entire operation with the wireless remote.

Of course, all of the options in the world don’t mean much if the sound quality is poor. Not to worry, this deck features a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter to ensure clear sound whether you are playing songs from a CD, MP3 CD, iPod or other portable music player. The built-in 13-band equalizer gives you total control over the various sound settings. This stereo also includes 9 preset tone curves for preserving your favorite sound settings.

Kenwood knows car stereos as it is, and they made a shrewd decision to involve experts on Bluetooth (Parrot) and navigation (Garmin) to help create this one of a kind mega stereo. This all-around unit lives up to its billing and is truly at the top of its class.