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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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON April 10, 2021
When it comes to putting together a banging sound system for your ride, most people focus on speakers and subwoofers. Those components are definitely key in creating an envious, crisp, high-quality sound. However, let’s not overlook another high-tech must-have: a touch screen stereo receiver. A good-quality touch screen stereo will take your car’s sound system to the next level. They're also super versatile, allowing you to control numerous car systems from the same screen. Some even come with rearview cameras and DVD players. Due to rapid advances in technology, touch screen stereos are getting more affordable and multifunctional. You don’t need to buy or lease a high-end foreign automobile to have a touch screen stereo. Check out our buyer’s guide below to find the perfect touch screen stereo.
This easy-to-use touch screen stereo is also a DVD, CD, USB, and MP3 player with Bluetooth calling capability. It can also connect to a backup camera for added versatility..
- Display is large and easy to read
- Produces good sound quality with your car’s stock speaker system
- Volume control seems lagging
- Installation instructions are very confusing
- Hands-free microphone needs to be stronger
It features a sizable 7-inch HD 1024 x 600 LCD display and a responsive, smart touch screen that puts all your controls at the tip of your fingers. This unit supports both iOS and Android smartphones.
- Super affordable
- Offers a clear, customizable display that’s easy to read
- Comes with an HD rearview camera included with HD night vision and 170-degree wide-angle lens
- This unit doesn’t come with a CD or a DVD player
- Not two-way compatible with your iPhone
- Requires you to plug it in with your USB charging cable
This model is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to use your smartphone to make calls, get directions, send and receive messages, and listen to music, all hands-free
- Able to play music, audiobooks, and podcasts from multiple formats
- Offers a clear and easy-to-read display
- Allows for customizable graphics for certain makes of vehicles
- Not compatible with all vehicle makes
- Graphics customization only works on certain vehicles
- Android Auto doesn’t automatically resume after ending a Bluetooth call.
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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 manufactures both car audio and home audio products. One popular product is the JVC KWR930BT Car Stereo - Double Din, Bluetooth, CD,MP3/USB AM/FM Radio, Multi Color Illumination.
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 AVH-W4400NEX In Dash Multimedia Receiver with 7" WVGA Clear Resistive Touchscreen Display.
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 Systems BV9358B Car Multifunctional Stereo Receiver.
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.
- $300 and up: 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. On the flip side, be mindful of the amount of space you have in your vehicle to accommodate a display Don’t get one that will be distracting or overly large.
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 Wi-Fi 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 Stereos Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- 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: Some touch screen stereos come equipped with GPS, although many users are increasingly relying on their smartphones for GPS navigation, as opposed to their car stereo.
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. Depending on the strength and capability of your car’s speakers, you may also need an external amplifier.
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.
When it comes to the best overall pick for a touch screen car stereo in terms of performance, reliability, and price, it’s tough to beat the BOSS Audio Systems BV9358B Car Multifunctional Stereo Receiver. It's an easy-to-use DVD, CD, USB, and MP3 player with Bluetooth calling capability.
For a high-quality, budget-friendly option that will still impress, try the aboutBit Bluetooth 7 inch HD Touchscreen Car Audio Receiver. It has an impressive HD 1024 x 600 LCD display that offers more resolution than many higher priced units on the market.