Best Touch Screen Car Stereos: Upgrade Your Audio System
The best touch screen car stereos to amp up your audio system
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PUBLISHED ON May 24, 2019
One of the first steps in creating a great sound system in your vehicle is by purchasing the best touch screen car stereo. This type of stereo system is very versatile and allows you to do numerous tasks besides just listen to the radio. With features such as a rearview camera and Bluetooth connectivity, the best touch screen radios are super convenient and a huge upgrade to your stock system.
- Best OverallPioneer In-Dash DVD ReceiverSummarySummaryIt features built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, and it supports three Bluetooth devices. It works with SiriusXM and has a DVD/CD receiver with an internal amp.ProsProsIt's quick and easy to install, and the screen resolution is clear and crisp. Overall, it's simple to connect various Bluetooth devices, adjust sound, and use the interface.ConsConsThe Bluetooth may not work if your device is not in close proximity. It doesn't come with a harness for installation, and the App Radio may not function correctly.
- Best ValueSummarySummaryIt features a DVD player receiver with Bluetooth capability for iPhone and Android. It has a hands-free calling, audio streaming, voice dialing, USB port, amplifier, 13-band graphic equalizer, and rearview camera input.ProsProsInstallation is straight forward, and it includes direct links to Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. The tuner, DVD, and USB work as advertised and the sound is better than a factory stereo.ConsConsSometimes the touch screen response is a little slow. It is not the most user-friendly product, and visibility suffers when it's bright outside.
- Honorable MentionSummarySummaryIt has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and plays Bluetooth, USB, MP3, WMA, AM/FM radio, and digital media. It includes inputs for steering wheel control and a rear camera.ProsProsThe screen is nice, sharp, and responsive. It's simple to install, it boots up fast, and it has good menu options. The sound is better than a stock stereo.ConsConsThe radio graphics may look dated, and the display is very bright at night. The radio reception may be poor, and it does not have a CD or DVD player.
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Benefits of Touch Screen Car Stereos
- Stream music and play movies. You can control various aspects of your entertainment system with just your fingertips, such as changing a CD or playing a DVD or MP3 player. You can also stream music from a USB drive.
- Use Bluetooth. In addition to using your fingers to access the controls, many of the best touch screen radios have Bluetooth capability. This enables you to play music from digital devices, make phone calls, and perform other tasks.
- Operate it hands-free. If you frequently talk on your phone while driving, a touch screen stereo will enable you to do so hands-free. It's much safer to make or take phone calls without fumbling for the buttons on your electronic device.
- Appease all passengers. The best touch screen stereo will allow you to play one type of media or program in the front of your vehicle and another type in the back. For example, you may prefer to listen to classic rock while your kids watch a Disney movie. A touch screen car radio with dual-zone listening will enable you to do both.
- See a big and bright display. Many older model stereos feature small digital numbers on a dimly lit screen. They are much harder to read compared to a modern touch screen car stereo. The best touch screen car stereo has a bright and colorful display that easily allows you to see and use the controls.
- Drive safely. Touch screens are the safest and easiest way to operate a car stereo. Dials and push-button controls take a bit more concentration to operate, forcing your eyes off the road. Using a touch screen is much less distracting. Some brands even feature backup cameras.
Listen to HD radio. A touch screen radio will enable you to connect to local HD radio stations. These channels have better signals and better sound quality compared to regular radio stations.
- Get more power. An aftermarket touch screen car radio usually packs more power than the stereo that comes standard with your vehicle. You don't need to change your entire audio system to get a better sound.
- Control your phone. The best touch screen stereo will allow you to download an app so you can control your phone through the stereo's touch screen. The apps vary according to the manufacturer.
Types of Touch Screen Car Stereos
Single vs. Double DIN
The German standards body Deutsches Institut für Normung created the term DIN. It refers to the height and width of a vehicle's stereo head unit. This standard is used by most automakers and manufacturers, which makes it easy for you to replace an OEM stereo with an aftermarket unit. Radios that are around 2 inches tall are typically single DIN, while devices that are twice as tall are double DIN. Touch screen stereos are usually double DIN; however, there are some single DIN head units with slide-out touch screens.
JVC & Kenwood
Kenwood Corporation was founded in Japan in 1946. Following a merger with JVC, the Tokyo-based company further cemented its role as a leader in consumer electronics. It manufacturers both car audio and home audio products. Two popular products are the Kenwood 6.2" 2-Din Receiver and JVC Double DIN Bluetooth Touch Screen LCD Display.
Pioneer started as an audio products manufacturer in 1938 when Nozomu Matsumoto made speakers in his garage. The multinational corporation has since designed and distributed various digital entertainment products in addition to car audio equipment. One top product is the Pioneer Double DIN Bluetooth In-Dash Car Stereo.
BOSS Audio has been manufacturing audio and video products for over 30 years. Based in Oxnard, Calif., with offices in Shenzhen, China, the company sells hundreds of car, marine, and Powersports products in 130 countries. One recommended product is the BOSS Audio Car Multimedia Player with Apple CarPlay.
Touch Screen Car Stereo Pricing
- Under $100: It is possible to find a touch screen car stereo in this price range. However, keep in mind that a cheap touch screen car stereo will likely be less durable and have fewer features.
- $100-$300: Many good-quality touch screen stereos are available at this price point. They offer a wide range of options, so it's important you choose the key options you require to find the right unit for your vehicle.
- Over $300: Premium touch screen car stereos can cost several hundred dollars. They generally have larger displays, numerous features, and may be geared towards specific makes and models.
Choose a touch screen stereo that's good in quality and has a decent-sized display. If you don't want to strain your eyes to see the screen, consider a bigger display with larger icons and easy-to-read graphics. Displays with information such as an album's name, artist, and song are helpful, as are those with split-screen capability.
A touch screen stereo will typically have several connection options. This may include Bluetooth receivers, CD/DVD readers, USB ports, flash card readers, and AUX jacks. Decide which of these features are most important. For example, you may want a USB port to play music but also to recharge a device.
- Compatibility: Make sure your iPhone and/or Android devices are compatible with a touch screen car deck before you make a purchase. Don't forget to consider the types of devices other members in your household use. The best touch screen head unit should function with both types of operating systems, but some are only compatible with one or the other.
- Voice Activation: The best touch screen car radio will allow you to control the system using voice commands. This hands-free feature allows you to keep your eyes on the road yet still take a phone call, change a CD, or carry out other functions. It's a convenient and safe option.
- Steering Wheel Controls: Many new cars feature controls on the steering wheel to operate the audio system. This allows you to quickly and easily turn up or down the volume, change the station, or take a call without taking your hands off the wheel. Note: make sure you select a touch screen stereo that is capable of connecting to the steering wheel controls before making a purchase.
- Backup Camera: A rearview camera is a great addition to any touch screen car deck. It is particularly helpful when you're parking. Some brands have sensors that alert you to obstacles that are in close proximity to your bumper. Others feature tips to help you park. These cameras are useful and have dropped in price in recent years.
- Equalizer: If you are an audiophile, you may want to purchase a touch screen car stereo that has a built-in equalizer. This allows you to control various frequencies to get the best sound out of your audio system. For example, if you want more bass and less treble on a song, an equalizer will help you make the right adjustments.
- Wi-Fi Antenna: A touch screen car audio system with a WiFi antenna will help you locate Wi-Fi connections. This will allow you to do many things, such as download maps for GPS or download apps. It is a convenient feature that can be particularly useful if you don't want to drain your data usage.
- Storage: Some touch screen car stereos have more storage capability than others, so it's important to check how much expandable storage a particular model contains. The more storage it has, the more music and videos you can keep directly on the stereo. This is useful if you don't want to pair a device with the unit and just want to play audio and video files directly from it.
- Wireless Remote: This feature is convenient if you want a system that can play DVDs and other videos. Passengers can watch a movie without having to touch the screen in order to control features such as volume. A wireless remote can be used to control other functions as well.
Best Touch Screen Car Stereo Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Pioneer In-Dash DVD Receiver
This stereo features built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, and it supports three Bluetooth devices at once. It works with a SiriusXM Sxv300 satellite radio tuner and supports new tune mix, traffic & weather now, and sports flash features. It has a DVD/CD receiver with an internal amp, and it's Siri Eyes Free with compatible devices. A built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control-optional adapter are required for viewing video content.
Installation is quick and easy, and the sound and picture quality are great. The screen resolution is clear and crisp, and the unit looks lean and elegant. It also pairs nicely with both iPhone and Android devices. There’s no lag in the touch screen, and the display is nice and bright. You can also customize the colors to your preferences, and there is an option to install a rearview camera. Overall, it's simple to connect various Bluetooth devices, adjust sound, and use the interface.
One problem is the Bluetooth microphone may sound a little fuzzy during calls, and the Bluetooth may not work at all if your device is not in close proximity to the stereo. Also, the App Radio may not function correctly. The stereo does not come with a harness for installation, and the video screen does not work unless the car is stopped and the parking brake is applied.
Best Value: JVC Double Din Car Stereo
This stereo has an in-dash DVD player receiver with Bluetooth capability for iPhone and Android. It features hands-free calling, audio streaming and control, and voice dialing. It has a USB port, amplifier, 13-band graphic equalizer, and rearview camera input. It's steering wheel control-ready and has backup memory.
Installation is straightforward, and it pairs easily with both Apple and Android devices. It includes direct links to Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora, and the tuner, DVD, and USB all work as advertised. It also gives an added boost to the sound quality of your factory speakers. Overall, it's a good budget upgrade for a factory stereo.
One issue is that it takes a little time to navigate through the menu, and, at times the touch screen response is a little slow. It is not the most user-friendly product, and visibility suffers when it's bright outside. Also, it does not come with remote control.
Honorable Mention: BOSS Audio Car Multimedia Player
This stereo integrates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with your vehicle's built-in display to control phone calls, directions, music, and messages. It plays Bluetooth, USB, MP3, WMA, AM/FM radio, and digital media from smartphones. It includes inputs for steering wheel control and a rear camera. It also has a preset, built-in equalizer and multi-color illumination options.
The screen is nice, sharp, and responsive, and the settings are easy to adjust. It's simple to install, it boots up fast, and it has good options in the menus. The sound is better than a stock stereo, and the home screen has all the essentials. It's also very easy to dictate or receive messages via the voice command.
One issue is that the main menu and radio graphics may look a bit dated. Also, the display is very bright at night. There have been some complaints that the radio reception is poor, and the preset equalizer settings aren't very good. Also, It does not have a CD or DVD player.
- Before purchasing a touch screen car stereo, measure your vehicle's head unit to determine if it is a single- or double-DIN unit. Single-DIN units will require a new dash kit.
- When changing your dash kit to install a touch screen stereo, be careful not to scratch the original one or the new one during installation. Consider consulting a professional if you are not confident in installing it by yourself.
- The best touch screen stereo will produce good-quality audio. Consider one with EQ presets, adaptable fine-tuning, enhanced processors, and amplifiers to get the best sound out of your system.
- If you have problems with Bluetooth connectivity, the firmware may need an update. Check the manufacturer's website to fix connection issues. The update process is usually simple and shouldn't take much time to complete.
Q: Do touch screen car stereos come with GPS?
A: Many touch screen car stereos require you to connect your phone to the system and download an app in order to use GPS navigation on the display.
Q: What other items do I need to install a touch screen car stereo in my vehicle?
A: If your vehicle currently has a single-DIN unit, you will require a double-DIN dash installation kit. You may also need a wiring harness during installation and aux cables for connectivity.
Q: Can you use the DVD player in a touch screen car stereo while the car is in motion?
A: Many aftermarket touch screen stereos will only work if the parking brake is applied. There are ways to work around this function, but it's not recommended due to safety concerns.
Our pick for the best touch screen car stereo is the Pioneer In-Dash DVD Receiver with 6.2" Display, Bluetooth, SiriusXM-Ready. It's easy to install, the display is nice and bright, and there's no lag on the touch screen. It's also customizable and has an input for a rearview camera.
For a less expensive option, consider the JVC Double Din Car Stereo with 6.2” Touch Screen.