Exceptional build quality for the budget to mid-range price.
Value For Money
As far as in-car aftermarket stereos go, this is reasonably priced for the level of tech you get.
Integrates with Apple and Android, but no Android Auto or CarPlay.
Ease of Use
Easy to get to grips with, but fiddlier than a touchscreen.
What I Like
What I Like
This review covers the Kenwood DPX502BT, a double-DIN car stereo with support for both Bluetooth and USB device connections. With impeccable sound quality and aesthetics that scream retro, this is a budget to mid-range car stereo that will add a touch of class to your vehicle dash, without breaking the bank.
Kenwood is well-known for their reliable home appliances, but they also have a stake in the entertainment industry. This unit mixes modern functionality like USB connectivity and Bluetooth, with retro aesthetics that are typical of a traditional AM/FM car stereo. Though it lacks the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration seen in some more pricey and advanced entertainment systems, Bluetooth is sufficient for streaming music from applications such as Spotify or Apple Music.
In terms of aesthetics, the fascia almost takes on the appearance of a vintage cassette, with a central 13-digit variable color display that's surrounded by physical, functional buttons. Additionally, a single dial mounted in the center of the console provides easy maneuverability around the various menus and the volume control.
Who is This Product For?
If you’re a family unit that’s torn down the middle in terms of brand loyalty, then you’ll be glad to know that phones from both the Apple and Android sides of the fence can integrate with this unit. If you’re running with an iPhone but the kids are on Android, there will be no squabbles.
This product is also a good fit for those people who want an enhanced audio experience on the road, beyond that of your usual AM/FM radio, but who do not have a flashy car. You wouldn’t install a top-of-the-range touchscreen stereo into an old banger; that’d look plain odd. However, you can still have a retro yet classy stereo like this for a reasonably small price.
The DPX502BT is perhaps less ideal for the tech and gadget enthusiast who simply must have the latest toys. Sure, there’s integration with smartphone features and audio streaming, but a lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integration simplifies the offering when compared to more advanced products. What’s more, anybody who’s in love with their smart devices may well miss the inclusion of a full-color touchscreen.
Out of the box you get the Kenwood stereo receiver, which uses a 10A fuse. This is packaged with a wireless remote control for fine-tuning settings, a lithium battery to keep the remote powered, and an external microphone. Though the microphone is not built in, it comes with an integrated bracket for easier installation and use.
For installation, there's a sleeve, attached trim ring and wiring harness, as well as 2 removal tools for if or when you need to remove the unit from your vehicle. These components are supplemented by an instruction manual to help facilitate the first-time setup, as well as a warranty information card.
Overview of Features
As far as in-car stereos go, this is one of the best-equipped models available from the Kenwood range. Features such as smartphone Bluetooth connectivity come as a real surprise for a model that features none of the usual signs of advanced mobile technology;for example, it is lacking in any touchscreen capabilities. Still, that doesn’t detract from the impressive range of features available.
The model plays CDs, CD-Rs and CD-RWs, as well as discs populated by WMA, MP3 or AAC files. There's also a built-in AM/FM tuner for accessing local radio stations, all displayed on a 13-digit variable-color, backlit display. These can be stored in one of 8 side-mounted buttons on either side of the display for quick access later.
Audio controls include subwoofer level controls, high and low-pass filters and bass boost.
Smartphone compatibility may not be immediately evident given the lack of a modern touchscreen, but it's there.
Bluetooth provides hands-free calling so that you can keep your eyes on the road, as well as streaming from compatible music apps. There's also phone control built into the console for both iPhone and Android users, as well as Android Music playback with the Kenwood dedicated music application.
If you forgive the lack of compatibility with Apple and Google’s dedicated in-car services, which are CarPlay and Android Auto respectively, then this model doesn’t really fall short of stereos nearly three-times the price in terms of functionality. The more affordable price tag simply comes down to the build, since there’s no pricey LCD touchscreen included.
However, this doesn’t mean that the build quality is poor. This is an excellent model that’s likely to last, with a brand name that’s recognizable and reliable. Installation shouldn’t give you any major qualms, and if you get stuck, there’s a manual to see you through. All in all, it’s an excellent piece of kit that will make the perfect dash centerpiece for anyone stuck in the 80s.