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Axxera AXV820 Multimedia Receiver 

So, maybe you’ve been lusting after an in-dash multimedia player, but could never quite come to terms with the cost? Well, you’re in luck oh frugal one. From the folks at the Dual Electronics Corp. comes the Axxera AXV820 multimedia receiver, a feature-laden, good-looking unit that represents one of the highest values available in this hotly-contested category. How high is the value exactly? Well, as you read through the review of the AXV820, keep in mind it can be had for around $280!

So, maybe you’ve been lusting after an in-dash multimedia player, but could never quite come to terms with the cost? Well, you’re in luck oh frugal one. From the folks at the Dual Electronics Corp. comes the Axxera AXV820 multimedia receiver, a feature-laden, good-looking unit that represents one of the highest values available in this hotly-contested category. How high is the value exactly? Well, as you read through the review of the AXV820, keep in mind it can be had for around $280!

FEATURES
Okay, I bet that got your attention. And, don’t be fooled into thinking the low price means this is some sort of stripped pickle, because the Axxera AXV820 comes equipped with the most popular features everyone is looking for. In addition to a quality AM/FM tuner and a slot-loading CD/DVD mechanism, other key features are iPod audio and video capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony, front and rear USB ports, SD (SDHC) memory card slot and, of course, the 6.2-inch 1.15 megapixel TFT touchscreen. The unit also comes with a 40-inch long USB-to-iPod cable with a video connector, which is one less thing you’ll need to buy. And, for those times when your passengers need some entertainment to endure long road trips, the unit also provides output connections via a pair of dedicated video outputs for back seat or headrest monitors. With the ability to playback compressed video files from your iPod, USB device, SD card or recordable DVD the AXV820 can provide hours of entertainment without carrying a stack of media.

The built-in Bluetooth technology supports A2DP, AVRCP or HPF profiles, so you can also stream audio from your Bluetooth-enabled phone.

If your car has steering wheel controls, the AXV820 can be interfaced to those controls using an optional adaptor. There is also an input for a reverse camera and settings for normal or mirror image views.

On the audio side of things, there is a CEA-2006B rated four-channel 18-watt power amplifier built in as well as preamp outputs for front, rear and subwoofer amplifiers. The output voltage of the preamp section is rated at four volts.

A DSP-powered audio adjustment section affords a three-band quasi-parametric equalizer and an adjustable low pass crossover with frequencies at 80, 120 and 160 Hz for the subwoofer output.  The digital-to-analog conversion is handled by a Cirrus Logic 24-bit DAC.

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CONTROLS AND ERGONOMICS
When it comes to everyday use, the Axxera AXV820 has good ergonomics with a well laid out touchscreen and handy rotary volume control. The picture quality from the 6.2-inch screen is excellent and there are easy-to-use adjustments for brightness and contrast. I notice the screen does wash out a bit in direct sunlight, but that is a common issue for almost any of these types of screens.

Where you are reminded of the low cost of the AXV820 is in the responsiveness for the touchscreen controls, processor speed and a lack of customization options. The button and control illumination is blue and no other colors are available. For example, when changing multiple tracks, the unit makes you pause until the last command is recognized before permitting another. I also found it a bit frustrating to have to use the included wireless Axxera AXV820 Multimedia Receiverremote control for functions like fast forward and fast reverse. Granted, these probably aren’t functions the majority of people use frequently, but I do. Discs take a bit longer to load and begin playing as well but, at this price, I can wait a couple of seconds. What you do get is a solidly-built unit with large easy-to-use screen icons that will work with gloved fingers and a clear display that can be read quickly and simply.

My Blackberry has no problem pairing the Bluetooth connectivity and I'm able to take and make phone calls quickly and easily. The included external microphone works reasonably well with very little noise or echo. On the subject of using my phone with this head unit, I notice the AXV820 does not come with phone book capabilities.

LISTENING
During the listening session, the AXV820 acquits itself very well. The unit has excellent sonic performance and, in CD or DVD mode, will hold its own against other players costing several times more. Bass is deep, musical and the top end provides all the detail and clarity in the recordings. Stereo separation and imaging also get high marks. My iPod also sounds excellent and the control of my musical selections happens fairly quickly and smoothly.  Again, it might not be the fastest iPod control unit available, but when you consider you can buy two or three of these for one that is only slightly faster, it all makes sense. The AM/FM tuner also delivers good sound and reception, but it does not support RDS information or HD Radio.

PERFORMANCE / BENCH MEASUREMENTS
When measured on the test bench, the AXV820 meet or exceeds all of its technical specifications.  Frequency response is very flat and the preamp outputs actually develop just over five volts with an incredibly-low output impedance of just 24 ohms. This type of preamp signal performance will make the AXV820 a great choice for driving amplifiers in difficult environments.

CONCLUSION
All in all, the Axxera AXV820 is simply an excellent value. Whistles and bells on a budget! Sure, when compared side-by-side with some of the higher-end units out there, it’s not quite as polished and lacks a few of the niceties that have spoiled people like me. But, when you are listening to it and watching the video on the crystal clear LCD screen, you quickly forget that you’d prefer red illumination or that it took 15 seconds for the disc to play. And, when you still have a wad of cash in your pocket after buying it, those things matter even less.

MEASURED SPECIFICATIONS

AMPLIFIER
CEA-2006A power per channel (all channels driven @ 4 ohms).    18.4 watts x 4 ch.
A Wtd S/N ratio (ref. to 2 V/1 W @ 4 ?) amplified output…....    -77.6 dBA (CD)
THD+N (ref. to 2 V/1 W @ 4 ? 1 kHz )…………………………    0.25%
Frequency response (-3 dB) …………………………………......    20 Hz – 20 kHz (CD)
                                    20 Hz – 20 kHz (Aux)

PREAMP SECTION
Max usable RCA output voltage …………………………………..    5.1 Vrms  
A Wtd S/N ratio (ref. to full output voltage)………………………    -90.1 dBA (CD)
Output impedance …………………………………………………    24 ?
Frequency response (-3 dB) ……………………………………....    20 Hz – 20 kHz (CD)
                                    20 Hz – 20 kHz (Aux)