Kenwood DNX-7200 & KCA-BT200 review

In 2008, a 6.95-inch touchscreen in a 1997 Toyota MR-2 T-bar felt like the future..

Kenwood’s KCA-BT200 Bluetooth telephone module is a new model – it isn’t actually on sale yet – and adds the ability to play audio from bluetooth sources using the A2DP profile. The hands free system interface does not change between the BT100 and BT200, but the BT200’s feature set is upgraded, and offers more connectivity:

Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 1.2Bluetooth 1.2
Supported ProfilesHFP (Hands Free Profile)
OPP (Object Push Profile)
HFP (Hands Free Profile)
OPP (Object Push Profile)
PBAP (Phone Book Access Profile)
SNYC (Synchronisation Profile)
A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile)
AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile)
HSP (Headset Profile)
SPP (Serial Port Profile)
Phone book Capacity
Per Handset
5 handsets
300 entries
32 Digits
40 Characters
5 handsets
1,000 entries
32 digits
50 characters
SMS transferNot SupportedSupported on certain devices

Connection to the DNX-7200 is simple, with a single wire to handle power and data communications and a through port for CD changer or similar accessories; the microphone provided is intended to be stuck on top of the steering column trim and this general area would appear to be the best location – I thought it might be possible to have it on the headrest, but it is so directional that this just didn’t work. Incoming calls can be rejected by pressing a hardware button (the Mute/ATT button) on the front panel, answered automatically or via screen or hardware button depending on which mode you are in; the supplied remote also provides direct dialing and control. Newer headunits have voice tag support for 35 entries, and with support for headset profile it may be possible for Windows Mobile users to use Microsoft Voice Command on specific headunits. In the case of the DNX-7200, where the phone module functions are dictated by the built-in firmware, then the BT-200’s extended functionality is somewhat lost.

Selecting a number

Kenwood USA’s DNX 8120 includes bluetooth functions, and this may point to the UK getting a DNX 8200 model with built in satellite navigation and bluetooth, reducing the amount of wiring and complexity and increasing the functionality available. At present though, it looks like newer Kenwood head units may be the best option for KCA-BT200 use, and if you wish to have a hands free system with the DNX-7200, the BT100 will suffice. If you are planning on using one of these regularly, prune your contact list of pictures, as these slow down updating dramatically and have no purpose (the display cannot show an image of the incoming caller, for example).

A2DP and AVRCP playback

Call quality is good, albeit a little quiet due to the noise-cancelling function. The MR2 I tested the system in is not a quiet car, and fitted to a suitably conventional model it will probably perform well. That it handled the creaks, rattles and noises of a ten year old T-bar bodyshell and cheap induction kit is sufficient recommendation! Audio quality over bluetooth is good, much to my surprise – when paired with the Nokia E90, rather than the N73 that shows in the list of supported BT100 handsets, the BT200 not only allowed playback (but not browsing) of media on the device with skip/reverse/pause/play controls, it also allowed fast transfer of phonebook (seems to support the first 200 via this method), and on supported head units you can enter new contact details on the device and have them synchronised with your handset – again, the 7200 does not support this feature.

KNX-7200 satnavIf you’re looking at the DNX-7200, then you probably want satellite navigation as a primary function. In this regard, the DNX offers quite a few benefits – always on, always there, consistent behaviour, no things to stick on the windscreen, no cables to trail around the dashboard. As an alternative to the expensive and often dated factory fit navigation systems, it’s an attractive option. The navigation module is provided by Garmin and uses a SiRF Star III chipset, internal flash memory for maps with an external SD card slot for updates and loading POIs, TMC module support and an internal gyroscope. The gyroscope helps a lot with initial navigation, as the car’s orientation cannot usually be determined by ‘portable’ satellite navigation systems; if the speed pulse function were supported by this module (as it is by some of Kenwood’s external models) then it could lose a lot of the signal and still have a rough idea of location.

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