Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information. Click here to see our current Top Ten car stereos.
The FZ502 is Clarion's answer to a digital media receiver. A digital media receiver is a mechless car audio head unit – a unit without a CD player – and plays digital media files using Bluetooth or physical input ports.
The Clarion FZ502 may not have a CD player, but it does have built-in Bluetooth capability and a built-in microphone. The Bluetooth on the FZ502 enables you to make and take phone calls and stream music through the head unit. Your music will play through your car stereo without the aid of cables. However, if you have devices that don't have Bluetooth, you can connect to the FZ502 via the auxiliary and USB ports located on the front.
The sound quality produced by the FZ502 is a little lacking, but that might be due to the fact that it is underpowered compared to some of the other head units we reviewed. As for expandability, the Clarion FZ502 has two sets of RCA outputs, and one of those is designed for a subwoofer. Unfortunately, these outputs are also underpowered and therefore limit the strength of any of the speakers you hook up to it, unless you add an amplifier.
This head unit is also limited in its customizable features. You can alter the brightness of the display to compensate for daylight or nighttime, but you can't change the color. You also can't customize the sound much either because it only has a three-band equalizer, which gives only the most basic of adjustments.
Clarion offers a one-year limited warranty on the FZ502, and you can contact the customer service department via telephone or the physical address. The company doesn't provide an email address or an email form, which makes it a little harder to contact them. However, the FAQs page is fairly thorough, and you can find the user manual on the website.
The Clarion FZ502 does what a digital media receiver should do, which is to allow you to connect and play your digital files. However, the customizable elements fall short and the unit as a whole is weaker than some of the other models we have reviewed.