All discs welcome
With its screen stowed, the XDVD8182 operates similar to any garden-variety single-DIN car stereo. Two metallic twist dials and eight familiar audio control buttons can be used to operate the AM/FM tuner and CDs--including CD/R, CD/RW, WMA, and MP3-encoded discs. In its single-DIN configuration, volume can be controlled via the left-hand knob or the XDVD8182's remote control, while the right-hand dial can be used to skip through tracks, or curiously, to restart a track by pushing it in.
With a push of the Open button, the unit's motorized faceplate majestically deploys, revealing its 7-inch TFT LCD screen. Icons on the bezel inform users that the XDVD8182 is iPod-ready, has an output of 200 watts, plays DVD video, and is a touch screen. Most audio functions, including all ID3-tag information and all advanced EQ controls, are available only when the screen is opened.
Playing CDs via the XDVD8182 is as simple as inserting a disc, which starts playing automatically at a transfer bit rate of 320kbps. The unit offers a range of control options for play, pause, skip, and search; you can use the hard buttons on the bezel, the soft touch screen buttons, and the buttons on the remote control. Tracks can be played at regular speed or fast-forwarded at 2X, 4X, 8X, or 20X speed. When playing CDs, audio output can be tweaked using the unit's EQ settings for bass and treble or by selecting one of the multiple preset acoustic arrangements, which include Rave, Techno, Movie, Rock, Jazz, and News. A Loud function enables users to boost the audio output at low volumes.
A particularly nice function of the touch screen is that it enables users to scroll through different pages of audio tracks (six to a page), rather than having to click through each track individually. Files can be selected by pressing on the name of the track, the play button, or by pushing in the right-hand dial. When playing MP3 and WMA-encoded discs, an additional icon allows users to search folders as well as files. A further icon on the right-hand side of the screen launches a keypad that lets users select tracks by number.
iPod interface a major drawback
Unfortunately, this breadth of search and programming functionality is woefully absent when trying to play music from an iPod. We are generally in favor of head units that transfer full control of a docked iPod to the touch screen display, enabling users to listen to digital music without having to download it to yet another location and having to fiddle around with minuscule controls when on the road.
Consequently, we were excited to see the XDVD8182 screen turn into a virtual, enlarged version of our iPod as soon as we plugged the player into the as-standard dock, which connects with the head unit via the unit's iplug module and simultaneously charges the iPod. (The iPlug also has RCA jacks for other auxiliary inputs.) With an iPod connected and selected as the source, the displayed menu is a familiar sight, with users given the options of selecting music by playlist, artist, album, genre, song, or composer.
While the lateral menus are as easy to navigate as those on a real iPod, getting down to the list of tracks, albums, or artists vertically is a real pain. The only way to browse is by pushing the up or down arrows (to see each name one at a time) or by pressing the file button that allows you to skip forward six entries at a time. As an example of how time-consuming this method of browsing is, it took us more than 120 presses of the file buttons to get through the list of artists in our 4GB iPod Nano.