Chances are, if you have kids, you had to forgo the idea of a small sporty car in favor of a family-friendly minivan or SUV at some point because it's more practical. You need a car that can easily transport your kids to school functions and soccer practice. This often means sacrificing a high-quality car audio system in favor of a cheap factory-installed stereo and DVD player to keep your kids entertained and quiet.
However, the JVC KW-V21BT combines the high-end car stereo with an in-dash car DVD player. You get to rock out to your favorite tunes, and your kids can have their movies for those long weekend road trips. Everybody wins.
The JVC KW-V21BT's most prominent feature is the 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen. The icons within the menus are big and colorful enough that you don't have to strain your eyes to figure out how to navigate the menu, which is critical when you're driving. While there's an output for the video to any monitors you have installed in your car, you can watch movies on the screen, but only when you're parked. You can also connect a rear camera, which displays the area behind your car when you put the car into reverse, making it safer.
The audio quality is as good as that of the best car stereos on the market. While the maximum power output is average by car stereo standards, the continuous power output is very good. The maximum power output is 200 watts with a continuous power output of 88 RMS watts. It has six outputs for front, rear and subwoofer speakers. However, the most impressive feature of the audio quality is the five parametric EQ bands, which have a combined 20 customizable frequencies that you can enhance or diminish by 10 dB. This gives you extraordinary control over the shape of the audio, allowing you to optimize the sound to your specific vehicle and preferences.
In addition to playing DVDs and CDs, you can plug music players and thumb drives into the USB port. It can play WAV, MP3s, WMA and AAC files. However, the most functional playback option is the Pandora app. While you can stream all types of internet radio apps using your smartphone, the JVC KW-V21BT has specific features that are compatible with Pandora's interface. It lacks an HD Radio receiver, unlike the best car audio receivers, but it is compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio. You just have to purchase the receiver and subscription separately.
The Bluetooth compatibility allows you to use the stereo as a speakerphone through your car's speakers. It comes with an external noise-canceling microphone with a long cord that allows you to place it in the most optimal position so that it picks up your voice and nothing else. It can download your contacts so that you have caller ID for incoming calls and voice dialing. In addition, it keeps a call history of your outgoing, incoming and missed calls.
Another great Bluetooth feature is the app link mode, which provides audio playback and video display of various driving, utility and music apps from your smartphone. This allows you to use GPS apps like MotionX-GPS Drive and Waze. It's also compatible with the radar detector app Cobra iRadar, which is a community-based app that works in conjunction with a Cobra radar detector. There are also drive-tracking apps, like DriveMate Time Trial, that can record the routes you take around the city and the amount of time the routes take on average, allowing you to better gauge the best routes.
The JVC KW-V21BT is one of the best in-dash car DVD players because it allows you to have a high-quality car audio experience while still being able to play movies for your kids on long road trips or daily errands. And the comprehensive smartphone integration means you'll never have to touch your phone while you're behind the wheel, which is good news for everyone who shares the road with you.