Christmas Round-Up: 2013 Clarion Double DIN Car Stereo
Clarion doesn’t have many double din car stereos, but when they do release one, you can be sure it won’t be a half-baked creation. In 2013, Clarion have only released the NX603, but oh boy is it a good one. The NX603 is a DVD/CD receiver with an AM/FM tuner, built-in Bluetooth, and a 6.2” touchscreen that ensures it will fit in most dashboards. The display is particularly intuitive, which pinch-to-zoom capability and “flicking” your way through menus, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road. Most importantly, it has four hard buttons on the left (menu, Nav, Smart Access, and a big volume knob).
Clarion’s SmartAccess cloud network service platform lets you use road-friendly apps to stay up to date with the world outside (social media, news, calendar, email, weather, and more). You will need to plug your iPhone (up to 4 and 4S) or Android using an extra cable. Included in the Smart Access platform is GPS navigation, traffic updates, Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio. The best thing is that Clarion automatically updates its platform with new apps, without you having to do anything to get access to them once they’re released. The NX603 also works with MirrorLinks which “mirrors” your smartphone on the touchscreen display. The built-in TomTom navigation includes maps for the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, offers 11 million points of interest, 3D landmarks and buildings, speed limit warnings, lane guidance, and close-up views of complicated intersections. Bluetooth audio and calling works for most phones, including the Iphone 5, 5C and 5S, as does the Pandora app (with song information and tracking info) and the control from the headunit. Though it doesn’t have HD Radio, the NX603 is compatible with an optional tuner for SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The sound quality is excellent, and can be customized with a 6-band EQ, bass enhancer, vocal image control and a feature which restores compressed audio media (like MP3 and WMA) to the original soundtrack. As a final note, Clarion’s NX603 is still more expensive than the similar Alpine INE-W940 or Kenwood DDX470, but what it lacks in price attractiveness, it makes up in a better user interface, a sleeker look, built-in Navigation from the reliable TomTom (as opposed to having to spend an extra $100 to use a smartphone GPS app on the headunit screen), and better electronic device integration (iPod, iPhone, Android, etc.). Sometimes, it is worth it to spend a little extra money to get better quality, and to save yourself from months of potential hassle with your 2-DIN receiver.
Buy it now
Still not convinced? See how this double DIN car stereo performs, as LessCo takes you through their in-depth review of the NX603: