Kenwood KDC-BT7539U review

As a lot of you know, I've had lots of trouble with a Pioneer DEH-P7050BT car stereo with bluetooth handsfree. After 6 months of talking with Pioneer to try and get a fix to the many issues I was seeing, they have finally pointed me to a document that Pioneer UK have released at the end of October saying that the unit is not compatible with my Dopod 838 Pro phone. I see this as admitting defeat.

So, I got authorised to return the unit to JB Hifi for a full refund! This I really liked, but it left me with a dilemma - What to do next?

After hunting around the stock of JB Hifi and looking at prices, I stumbled upon a Kenwood KDC-BT7539U on the shelf for $296AUD. Keeping in mind that I just returned the Pioneer unit for $420! My original plan was to purchase a non-bluetooth stereo and a separate Parrot car kit. This is when it was pointed out to me that the bluetooth module in the KDC-7539U is actually manufactured by Parrot!

After hassling someone in Strathfield to test the unit out, all seemed to work fine with my device, however Strathfield wanted to charge $429AUD - for the same unit on sale at JB Hifi for $296AUD!

Anyhow - after installing the unit, I paired up my Dopod 838 Pro and things seemed to go fairly smoothly. I had a few minor issues with phonebook syncing, so I downloaded the bluetooth update to version 1.60 from the Kenwood web site. Things seem to be going very well for this unit at the moment - and compared to the DEH-P7050BT from Pioneer, my gripes list is VERY minor:

1) The method to change to preset radio stations is a bit too involved - as you have to rotate the right knob, then select a preset and then press the knob again. I wish I could assign these to just moving the knob to the right or left.

2) The phonebook seems to use the Lastname, Firstname format when displaying phone numbers on the display. I like having this the other way around and I can't seem to find a way to swap it to Firstname Lastname.

3) To select an option from the settings menu, you have to hold the right knob in for 1 second. When I'm used to just pressing a knob once, it takes quite a bit of time to get used to.

Other than that, the audio quality is suburb. Calls are clear, there is very little noise, I haven't experienced a call dropout yet, and there aren't any random hiss/hash noises in my car kit audio. All in all, Kenwood seems to have done an excellent job with this head unit - for almost half the price of the Pioneer 7050BT. When you consider a basic Parrot CK3100 is still selling for around $260AUD, then $270AUD for a Kenwood head unit AND a Parrot car kit is phenomenal value!

Rating: 8.5/10 Audio: 9.5/10 Value: 9.5/10


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