As the newest entry-level DVD-based navigation and multimedia in-car system from Eclipse, the AVN5510 has many of the same features that we liked in the AVN5500/ AVN6600 series, with some significant improvements in terms of design and features.
The AVN5510 has an elegant faceplate design that is far less cluttered and confusing than that of the previous-generation models. Instead of the rows of buttons on three sides of the bezel that we disliked on the AVN6600, the AVN5510 has just one single row of hard buttons along the bottom of the unit, which includes an Eject button, a Mute button, and a volume control rocker switch.
All other controls are performed using "soft" buttons on the unit's TFT touch screen display. The removal of the buttons on either side of the unit enable a half-inch increase in screen size, and the AVN5510 boasts a 7-inch LCD screen compared with the 6.5-inch screen on the AVN5500.
Gone also from the new design are the two menu buttons (one for media and one for navigation), replaced with a more user-friendly single menu button, leading to more specific onscreen options.
Customization is big business in cars these days, and the AVN5510 enables drivers to choose between five wallpaper settings and four beep tones according to their taste in such things.
With its two disc slots (one for CDs and one for DVDs), the AVN5510 can be used for navigation duties simultaneously and to play disc-based audio. Alternatively, the navigation DVD ROM can be removed to play DVD video on the unit's wide-screen display or on external rear-seat monitors via RCA output cables.
Those looking for more media capabilities can upgrade to the AVN 6610, which comes with two DVD slots, enabling car occupants to simultaneously listen to CDs, use the navigation system, and play video on rear displays. (The other major difference between the AVN5510 and the AVN6610 is the latter's support for optional Sirius Traffic, a service that provides real-time information on traffic flow, congestion, and incidents.)
In layout and functionality, the navigation features of the AVN5510 are much the same as those we liked so much on the AVN6600. Destination entry is performed using the system's touch screen keypad, and can be made using a number of options including address, point-of-interest (POI) name, POI category, and by physically selecting destinations from the map. For selecting destination manually from a map, we like the system's one-touch variable-speed scrolling feature.
For a DVD-based system, the AVN5510 calculates routes surprisingly quickly, and with a destination set, users are given a couple of very useful options for viewing the route details before they set out. Its Turn List provides an itemized readout of all the stages of the journey, while its Route Preview function gives an onscreen runthrough of the journey. Once underway, the system gives turn-by-turn voice guidance, and voice prompts vary in frequency depending on the car's speed.