Panasonic Car Audio
Panasonic takes space age innovation to the road
Panasonic has been making head units and CD changers for many years. Their offerings range from a few budget models to some of the most fully featured head units available. The Panasonic name can be seen on some of the nicest LCD mobile video units available and their DVD players are going to be second to none. Their high-end 1 din head units also have in-dash LCD displays for easy viewing of the multitude of features you can access from the face plate.
Sitting near the top of Panasonic's line is the CQ-C9701U with a high resolution dot matrix display in an indigo blue color that's easily seen in bright lighting. The blue display provides a spectrum analyzer for a real time display of the frequencies your music is hitting. Let's face it, nobody needs an in-dash LCD display with a spectrum analyzer. They just look so darned cool, it's easily one of the best things Panasonic has done with its LCD display technology.
If you're willing to pay a premium for a cool display nothing beats the CQ-C9901U. The bigger brother to the C9701U, this is almost the same deck but it has a 512 color display instead of the monochrome blue. Both units represent Panasonic's upper end. Both tote large power outputs and publish 4x70W peaks. Peak power at 70W means the actual output in RMS, the real measure of power output, is probably more like 20, which isn't bad for a car stereo deck. Neither has any more than bass and treble control, so it could benefit from an external EQ. At their price point, some built in full band equalization would have been a thoughtful addition.
Like many of Panasonic's head unit's they're fully XM satellite radio ready; a switch from Panasonics older models giving us a staple diet of Sirius-ready decks.
Panasonic Car Audio Specialties
- CD and Cassette Player Head Units
- CD Changers
- Mobile Video, In-dash LCD
- Mobile DVD players
Being an accomplished TV manufacturer, you can trust their ability to make a good LCD display with their decades of experience in the field. Mobile video is one of Panasonic's strengths as a car audio manufacturer. Panasonic makes a line of in-dash 7" diagonal widescreen full color LCD monitor DVD receivers. The ability to decode Dolby Digital and DTS is a plus for taking DVD movies on the road.
These mobile video units will play back DVD movies, but watch out for their ability to decode MP3s. Reading MP3s from CD is a must have in a car stereo these days. In the very near future, DVD is likely to replace it as the car audio medium of choice. Buying a DVD deck today however, doesn't mean it can read MP3s from DVD. Panasonic's DVD players won't fail to disappoint; they only read MP3s from CD, they won't read music files from DVD. This is a serious flaw in design. It might not seem like a big deal if you're buying a DVD player for mobile movies only. But if you're burning your own CDs for music on the go, burned DVDs hold many times the capacity- making them a no-brainer for an upgrade.
Panasonic does make some of the latest gadgets with the most beautiful LCD displays seen in car audio. They earn bonus points for full featured decoding that includes DTS, but lose points for not decoding MP3 from DVD.