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Saturday, September 19, 2015

[BREAKING] Kenwood Announces Two New Head Units With Apple CarPlay

Kenwood USA has announced two new double-DIN multimedia receivers which will expand their repertoire of Apple CarPlay supported head units. Unlike the existing offerings, the new DDX6902S and DDX6702S will offer on Apple CarPlay and not Android Auto. These devices are tailored for iPhone users.

More juicy details including availability, features, price, and a comparison to currently available head units from other manufacturers are below the break.

In a press release, Kenwood announced the new head units and have given a fair idea on what to expect. The aftermarket manufacturer says it is ready to ship the devices starting this month!

Kenwood eXcelon DDX6902S and DDX6702S

Hardware Features: Both head units will feature a high-sensitivity, 6.2-inch screen bordered on the left by a physical knob and menu buttons. In addition to controlling the multimedia unit, the screen connects to an optional back-up camera to automatically show the view behind the vehicle while in reverse.

On-board options include HD Radio, CD/DVD drive, and terrestrial AM/FM radio. Both units are also SiriusXM-ready. Additionally, there is Pandora Internet Radio and iHeartRadio connectivity using a smartphone.

From the picture above, looks like the DDX6902S has an AV-Out or Mode change button on the left to go with a Menu button (brings you to the eXcelon menu, long-pressing turns off the head unit) and a dedicated Voice/Telephone button which may work either by bringing you to the telephony screen or launch Siri.

The big volume knob also works as the 'Attention' button. There is also an eject button and a slot of inserting CDs or DVDs. There is another switch in the top left corner without any markings on it. It could be a release button for the control panel but whether this safety feature is available is not known at this time.

Built-in Amplifiers: DDX6902S includes three 5-volt pre-amp outputs and a 7-band equalizer. The DDX6702S includes three 4-volt pre-amp outputs and a 5-band equalizer.

Differences from DDX9902S and DDX9702S

The newly announced head units have some obvious differences from the previously announced DDX9902S and DDX9702S. First and foremost, the existing head units offer Android Auto in addition to Apple CarPlay. The new head units will be Apple CarPlay-only.

Screen size is the second difference. Both existing head units offer a 6.95" WVGA display, whereas the DDX6902S and DDX6702S feature a smaller 6.2" display.

Other differences are not known at this time. Kenwood's press release didn't offer any more information but did mention the devices were being readied to ship out in September itself. One other piece of information came from Kenwood's marketing manager, Tony Mercado in the press release...
"We are committed to enhancing the connected lifestyle. iPhone users have deeply integrated relationships with their devices, and extending the safe function of those devices in the vehicle is vital. Adding the eXcelon DDX6902S and DDX6702S to our current flagship units lets us deliver that fun and functionality to more customers at lower price points."
Price: Although Mercado mentioned lower price points, the press release prices the new head units at $850 (DDX6902S) and $800 (DDX6702S). Mind you, these are suggested retail prices which means the devices could be available at lower prices when they hit the market.

When the DDX9902S and DDX9702S were announced there were priced at $950 and $900 respectively. But currently, prices are much lower at various retailers ($750 and $700). Lowest prices may be found from online retailers like Amazon and eBay as usual. I expect the newly announced models to be priced below $700 at some point.

Competition for the Pioneer AppRadio 4 (SPH-DA120) and Alpine iLX-007

Looks like Kenwood's latest devices are made to compete with the existing Pioneer AppRadio 4 and Alpine iLX-007 are also Apple CarPlay-only. Those devices have been around for a while though and have been quite popular so far, especially the AppRadio 4.

Both head units have very attractive price points at the moment with online retailers offering the devices for under $450. Even though those devices do not offer disk drives, they have plenty of robust features.

Although it may take a while for Kenwood's DDX6902S and DDX6702S to reach sub-$500 prices, they may have a hard time selling if they can't break that barrier. Currently, you can buy a Pioneer AVH-4100NEX for around $500-$550 and it offers both, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, has a disk drive, removable faceplate, a highly-customizable graphic equalizer and Pioneer's powerful NEX software.

Full features of the new Kenwood DDX6902S and DDX6702S will be available in the coming few days. Stay tuned for that.

Source: Kenwood


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