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by Bill Braun

Reviewer Extraordinaire

on December 2, 2014
The Pioneer AVH-X5700BHS is one of the top contenders for the title of “Best DVD Receiver.” Here’s why….

Let’s play a game!  How many features can we get into one receiver without creating a deck so smart it’s considered an artificial life form?

We’re getting there a lot faster than many people think.  Software is integrated into these receivers with safety, convenience and connectivity at the heart of the thought process. With advent of the “app”, manufacturers throughout the industry have found that making those aspirations a reality suddenly doable – without making the receiver impossibly expensive.

The Pioneer AVH-X5700BHS shares a lot of functionality with it’s NEX-series cousins, save for standard navigation (which can be added) and Apple’s Car Play. To say it has a “plethora” of apps is an understatement, plus the deck now comes with multiple camera inputs and a number of audio-geek laden controls including a massive 13 channel EQ.

The X5700BHS shares many of it's functions and the $450 - $550 price point with a few other models, namely the Kenwood DDX5901HD and the Sony XAV-602BT, all of which have Android Mirror Link compatibility, differing degrees of app-friendliness and SiriusXM compatibility.

Design

The design of the Pioneer AVH-X5700BHS is based around larger, more obvious buttons from last year’s versions, which is a welcome change.  I found it odd that the positioning of those buttons was unorthodox, as nothing is actually in the center of the screen.

As is the typical Pioneer footprint, the screen is set back a few millimeters from the frame, set in a rather tick black plastic.  The controls at the bottom protrude from a “shelf” sticking our about half an inch.  I’ve commented in the past that I am not a fan of the shelf, as it makes touching the very lowest edges of the touchscreen more difficult for people with larger fingers or people with long nails.

There are eight physical buttons that the deck has.  Of them, two need a bit of definition to use – the “DISP” button is simply an on/off switch for the screen.  It’s a nice feature to be able to completely shut off the screen without shutting off the radio, but the only way I learned that was to actually play with the button and find out for myself. I found out later that the same button open up a side control bar in navigation mode.  The “MODE” button on the opposite side becomes a toggle for the video menu while watching a DVD.

I can see the usefulness of the buttons, but they aren’t evident simply by looking at the deck.  I dislike reading the manual, but it's nearly impossible to get all the functionality out of most radios without taking some time to do so. 

Usually I prefer doing anything short of getting teeth pulled to reading a manual.  Luckily, the Pioneer manuals are colorful and for the most part easy to understand. You might actually have some fun reading it.

Build Quality

The buttons of the Pioneer AVH-X5700BHS are recessed into the bottom of the deck.  In testing the interface, I found the buttons to be on the inexpensive side. The main buttons (volume knob, the nameless center button, etc..) all give decent feedback, but seem almost loose when you press them, and are enclosed by hard plastic on top and bottom. Presumably this was done to make the buttons flush to the plastic shelf, but it makes finding the buttons harder to manipulate by feel while driving.

The body of the deck is markedly thick around the screen, which does give it a solid feel.  The screen design is anti-glare, and seems to resist fingerprints as well.

After pressing the eject button, you are offered the change to fully collapse the screen to eject a disc or load a new one. Another choice you have is to tilt the screen, which doesn’t seem to affect the stability of the deck during normal playback.

Usability

Source selection is easy to use with either a strip of graphic choices across the bottom of the screen, or while playing a source, via a down button in the upper left hand of the screen. The print of the Pioneer AVH-X5700BHS is easily understood in either case, and a touch of the arrow shows a large list of available sources.  While driving, both of these menus are very easy to understand and use.

A physical “source” selection button was missing, oddly. Given the ability to shut the screen off (but keep the receiver playing) by pressing the “DISP” button, I would have thought it necessary to include a feature like source selection along with volume, mute and a few other functions. 

Playing different sources is quite easy, with the advantage of a well designed source menu system I switched from cd to radio to DVD with barely any concentration required, which was a wonderful experience.

Pairing the phone has to be done manually, and requires you go into the setup screen, select “input/output” then choose if the phone is to be hardware via USB or connect by Bluetooth. I had trouble using Bluetooth when the initial setup screen asks you if the phone is iPhone or “other”, then it seems like once that choice has been made, adding a phone via Plugging the phone directly into the USB doesn’t operate any phone functions.

Using an Apple iOS 6 or 7 (any iPhone 4S or up) gives you access to the Siri Eyes Free functionality, which means you can get texts read to you, play an app or make/take calls and see the relevant info on-screen. It will work with the steering wheel control of any car that has a voice controller and the right adapter – which at this point is quite a few of them.

While the system can remember as many as three Bluetooth products, Apple’s iOS 8 is not yet supported.  As I have an iPhone 6 (iOS 8 is standard) I couldn’t get any of the 20+ apps to work with the deck. Luckily one of my coworkers has an iPhone 4, which worked like a champ.  The AppRadio Live, iHeart radio, Mixtrack and Waze apps all came up in the appropriate sections of the deck and played without issue.  Soon enough I anticipate iOS 8 compatibility to be something more than call data and Pandora, and with it you can play even more with the apps on a new iPhone. 

Placing a call with the voice command (a picture of a talking head in the lower left corner) was a clunky process.  While the Siri Eyes Free feature is functional with the deck, I didn’t see any type of confirmation that the instruction was received or being processed.

The touchscreen is highly accurate, but the “shelf” I referred to in the previous section does get in the way of touching the lowest quarter inch of the screen.

The included remote control is quite functional. The buttons are large enough to operate while driving, and remote itself is slim but reasonably tough.  Most drivers won’t use it, but if you are one to allow other passengers control your music they may get some use out of it.

The setup system is reasonably well organized, but not quite as elegant as some of it’s competition.  I found myself having not just having to go not just to a setup screen, but I had multiple setup menus to choose from.  This is good in that it limits the exposure you have to a certain task (like audio or Bluetooth setup) but the chances increase that you have to refer to the instruction book to determine the right setup screen you have to use to get everything truly personalized.

I have to give Pioneer props from an audio standpoint.  Beyond the 12 channel EQ being incredibly easy to manipulate, performing tasks like adjusting a crossover point, optimizing a listeners position, or even changing the relative power of an individual woofer or tweeter - it’s all simply excellent. The interface is graphic, completely understandable and completely unintimidating.

Most importantly, the interface offers everyone that truly cares about audio in their vehicle a chance to feel comfortable making changes as needed, so anyone can get the best sound out of this deck.  This is what adjusting sound is supposed to feel like.

General Features

In playing a DVD, I found the video quality to be good.  The anti-glare coating does require the screen be a bit less glossy, and the tradeoff does result in a slightly lower quality picture from a sharpness and contrast standpoint. The color quality is slightly affected by the coating, but I see this as a fair tradeoff for being able to see the deck clearly, even during common commuter times like early morning and sunset when sunlight can reduce visibility on radios lacking this precaution.

The screen itself has several theme colors to choose from, and thousands of button colors available.  Choosing a shade that matches the lighting in your car is easily done.

While no one seems to include anti-theft security for DVD players that have a 7” screen at this point, Pioneer does allow you to limit access to satellite radio as well as DVD playback.  This is meant to ensure kids don’t get to watch or listen to adult content with permission.

Playback Support

Not to sound melodramatic, but Pioneer - from a playback and expandability standpoint - threw the kitchen sink at the AVH-X5700BHS. It's safe to say they offer more at this price point then nearly anyone else in the DVD Receiver category.

Pioneer states iOS compatibility for:

  • iPhone 3GS up to the 5S
  • iPod nano 3rd up to 7th Generation
  • iPod with Video, iPod Classic & iPod Touch 1st to 5th Generation

There are 18 FM presets available as well as 6 AM presets. HD radio is also included, and supports multiple HD feeds per radio station.

The X5700BHS supports several Bluetooth profiles including:

  • Hands Free (HFP – lets you make or receive calls without touching the phone)
  • Audio Streaming (A2DP – the receiver plays audio from your phone)
  • Audio/Video Remote Control (AVRCP – lets you control audio and video playback)
  • Secure Simple Pairing (SSP) - Lets you pair a phone without entering a security code.
  • Serial Port Profile (SPP) - a replacement for simple serial cable, and the basis for AVRCP

Supported Audio Formats:

  • WAV
  • MP3
  • WMA
  • AAC

Supported Video Formats:

  • iPhone video from iPhone 4 and earlier (30-Pin connector) and the Pioneer CD-IU52 Adapter
  • DVD
  • MPEG-4/H.264
  • .3gp
  • .mov
  • .mkv
  • .mp4
  • .avi

Expandability

As has been the case since it's invention, Pioneer has more app-based functionality than anyone I’ve seen in the industry.  Download AppRadio (or App Radio Live) from the Google or Apple app store and the list is nothing less than expansive.  The system pulled up more than 25 compatible apps.  Yes, I said 25.  They’re not all completely interactive with the radio, but they’re mostly free.

The Pioneer AVH-X5700BHS also accepts SiriusXM radio, which offers hundreds of nationwide channels, sporting events of nearly every imaginable type, and uncensored comedy and talk stations. This is a subscription service, and requires the SiruisXM SXV200 receiver.

The deck also has 2 video inputs – one of which is a dedicated backup camera input and the other can be used as a front camera input. It can be used with the set of stereo audio and video outputs to send to an alternate A/V source like a rear screen.

Pioneer touts the X5700BHS can use MirrorLink v1.1. As the Android OS faithful are well aware, MirrorLink allows your phone to make/take calls, access music and use your phone as a navigation device. It also emulates your phones screen (though it doesn’t allow you to use every app on the screen). Use the Pioneer CD-MU200 cables to take advantage of this service.

The idatalink Maestro RR interface is also compatible with this deck.  While the level of features and compatibility varies from car to car, the idatalink Maestro RR was designed to enable steering wheel controls to work with the deck, as well as offer a separate set of gauges visible on the AV screen of the radio.  Items like RPM, various fluid temperatures, door alarms and tire pressure are among the available gauges to select. 

Once programmed (something you can do on your own – doesn’t require a “pro”) and installed, the Maestro RR is amazingly useful, showing you data that up to this point only your mechanic had access to.

Finally, the X5700BHS can accept the AVIC-U260 add-on navigation system. It is a simple installation ($400 MSRP) that offers 8 millions of Points of Interest, turn-by-turn directions in 2D and 3D as well as a built in traffic tuner that can offer to reroute you based on how heavy the traffic is. 

Value

I was genuinely impressed with the included features of the Pioneer AVH-X5700BHS, as well as the expandability it offered. While I wished the App compatibility that Pioneer prides itself on was available in iOS 8, it was one of the few complaints I had about the system as a whole. 

As I value functionality over all else, a pretty screen takes a distant back seat to a display I can easily work with while driving. I was glad to see Pioneer making the best of both worlds. With easy to understand graphics, some fun transitions with Mixtrax, and nearly universal cell phone compatibility, Pioneer achieves this and then some.  This deck seems to be prepared for functionality now, and expandability in the future.

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