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Kenwood Launches Cloud-Connected A/V-Navigation Units

Long Beach, Calif. – Kenwood has begun shipping a pair of in-dash A/V-navigation systems that access Cloud-based services, including real-time traffic, via a Wi-Fi connection to a cellphone or mobile hot spot.

The two touchscreen-equipped head units, which feature embedded Wi-Fi, also connect to services offering weather updates, parking information, speed-camera alerts and travel-advisory information. The two models receive Facebook and Twitter updates, RSS feeds, and personal email converted from text to speech.

Access to the Kenwood Cloud service will be free for two years and will cost $60 for a two-year subscription after that.

The two head units are the $1,700-suggested DNN990HD and $1,300-suggested DNN770HD.

In navigation mode, they pull real-time Inrix-provided information, such as traffic, weather and parking information.  When email and social-media updates are received and played back via the Cloud server’s text-to-speech conversion engine, users can reply via speech-to-text conversion.

The server also performs cross-platform media searches for audio and video content stored on a Wi-Fi-connected smartphone, on a connected mass-storage device, and through built-in streaming audio and video apps such as YouTube.  Through Cloud-based services, the user can search for content by a particular genre or artist, and if a search is performed for a specific song, subscription-based content-on-demand services can be accessed.

 Built-in streaming-audio services include iHeartRadio, Aupeo Personal Radio and Pandora Internet Radio Link. The heads also feature built-in HD Radio, stereo Bluetooth, and connection to an optional SiriusXM Vehicle Connect tuner.

 Songs and playlists uploaded to the Cloud server from a PC or smartphone can be accessed by the head units and from other devices. The head units also monitor a person’s calendar, providing reminders based on the user’s preferences.

 From a home computer or smartphone app, the Cloud service lets users upload new routes to the systems as well as review music and video content previously played.

 Up to four users accounts can be accessed by each head.

 The head units also share audio and video content in the car with a 7-inch handheld Kenwood touchscreen monitor/controller that can be mounted on a rear seat to access and control content being transmitted wirelessly from the head unit. The device retails for an everyday $379, excluding headrest-mounting kit.

 The $1,700-suggested DNN990HD, retailing for $1,499 by Crutchfield, features a 6.95-inch WVGA touchscreen display, dual USB inputs, onboard DSP with digital time alignment, 13-band equalizer and dual camera inputs. The $1,300-suggested DNN770HD features a 6.1-inch WVGA touchscreen panel.

The touchscreens on both models feature a high-speed, animated GUI with independent, task-related screens for entertainment, communication, social media, calendar and Cloud-based utilities. The user interface is easier to use than those of OEM infotainment systems, claimed Kenwood senior VP Keith Lehmann. He said factory infotainment systems “are not intuitive, not user-configurable and not particularly good at addressing driver distraction.”

 Both heads integrate with Ford Sync and GM OnStar infotainment systems via an optional an iDataLink Maestro RR OEM-integration module sold by Automotive Data Solutions.