No attempt is made to mimic an “iPod” display – the same UI pretty much serves for USB/Data media as well – but due to being connected to an iPod the information presented is interpreted correctly, and the access speed is impressive. When hooked up to an iPod Nano, the smaller quantity of data required made navigation very quick – however, with the 80GB iPod 5.5G I normally use for these reviews, it was still impressively fast and safe to use – naturally you want to focus as much attention on the road as ever possible, but the Kenwood iPod interface features a very efficient scrollbar (proportional) with snap locations, getting rid of the tendency to “jump” away from a chosen page. It’s essentially a “percentage skip”, but with an analogue feel to the input you make. Scrolling is not updated live, but you can pretty much assume you’ll end up around “P” if you go for roughly 70% down, for example. A couple of taps to isolate the page, and you have your artist. When choosing the artist you can then initiate play of an album with one tap; a stunningly useful feature that appears to be overlooked entirely by the other units I’ve featured. If you want to choose a track, then you can go futher down, but essentially deciding to play an entire album or an entire artists’ material, or a whole playlist, is very very quick.
If I were rating iPod control out of 10, where 10 is absolute perfection, then most players are hovering around 4, and this interface deserves a good 7. If it turns out that with the newest iPod models it can return to the previous position – so pressing Cat Up returns you to the album you were browsing last – then it would be worthy of an 8.
Helping with the iPod control aspect, Kenwood’s system is the first I’ve used that allows direct control of iPod video playback. This transforms the nature of working with the in-car multimedia system, making it fully seamless, and works astoundingly well. On the one hand, this feature deserves praise and attention drawing to it – on the other hand, it works just like selecting music, and there isn’t very much to say. It Just Works. Having had some difficulty in preparing efficient media for the player through data DVDs and so forth, the instant access to iPod-encoded video makes the whole lot redundant for that purpose; if you plan to use the DNX-7200 with a high capacity iPod then you may as well forget it even has an optical drive.