Last updated on November 18th, 2019 at 08:20 pm

The Best In-Dash Car Media Head Units come with a variety of features that many OEM and even single din CD receivers do not. The quickest and easiest way to gain multimedia playback, including DVD and video inputs for adding devices such as game consoles and tablets, is to add a DVD and Multimedia compatible head unit to your car. You can read more about how to add video to your car for more details on recommended ways to watch video content or play games in your car.

Who Is This List For?

There's a number of reasons why you might be looking to upgrade or install an aftermarket DVD head unit in your vehicle. Among the most common:

  • You want to add Bluetooth connectivity for wireless phone calls and streaming music.
  • You'd like to watch multimedia, like YouTube, Movies or other video content while driving.
  • You need to replace your existing head unit because it's broken.
  • You might just want the latest and greatest audio and video tech in your car.
  • Your dash is in need of a style update.
  • You're looking to improve the quality of sound while listening to music or other audio in your vehicle.

You may have noticed that “adding GPS navigation to your car” isn't in the bullets above. If you're looking for both multimedia and GPS, we have a list of the best gps navigation receivers for that! But no matter what the reason, you can count on one of the top DVD head units on our list to provide a great, user friendly multimedia experience while enhancing your audio quality. But before you choose a multimedia receiver, make sure you know it'll fit!

There are two (main) sizes of head units on the market today: single-DIN and double-DIN. If your car's dash has a double-DIN opening, you can fit both a single-DIN and double-DIN. But if it is a single-DIN, you'll only be able to fit a single-DIN receiver unless you customize the opening. You'll need to find out which size your car can fit in order to choose the right one. Take a look at the image below to see which opening you have:

single din head unit vs double din head unit side by side to compare

The image above shows the same Toyota Tacoma dash, just with different sizes. It's worth noting that your dash might look like it has a single din but if it seems like it'll fit a double din in size, it might. Check out the vehicle fit guide at http://metraonline.com/ and see if there is a double din sized dash kit for your car.

It's also worth noting that cars under 10 years of age often have multiple screens now that show different information. One screen might be dedicated to the radio and climate control while the other is dedicated to GPS. Replacing your head unit in these scenarios with standard aftermarket unit might not be the best choice because there might be key functionality to your vehicle that you'd lose if you did replace it. In these scenarios you'll want a vehicle specific aftermarket placement. Not all vehicles are like this though.

For those who have vehicles that are older than about 10 years that don't have multiple screens with different systems powering them, your installation and upgrade is pretty straight forward.

CarAudioNow is a professional review site that combines insights from our expert writers, tests and consumer feedback to generate comprehensive How-To and Buying Guides for automotive and boat/marine electronics and accessories. Once we assemble our lists using our set criteria, being part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates program (and other affiliate programs) allows us to provide our audience with quality content via affiliate links in the “Price Comparison” section with no additional cost to you. Clicking on one of our “Buy” links allows us to earn small fees to keep us growing and also to continue to bring you new content so we appreciate it when you use them. Check out our Affiliate Disclosure for more info.

 
Unsure what size head unit will fit your dash? Search for your year, make and model using our Dash Size Search Tool to find out if the head units on this list match the dash opening of your car!

Best In-Dash Car Video DVD & Multimedia Head Units List

1. Best Overall Pick: Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.95″ motorized touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, subwoofer)

Latest Prices

Buy on Amazon $438.00
Buy on Ebay.com $469.00
Buy on Crutchfield.com $499.99
Last Amazon price update was: December 12, 2019 10:12 am

Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX Quick Review

Pioneer recently brought the NEX line to market to take advantage of the slew of new connectivity options on the market. The 4500NEX features a massive 6.9” touchscreen that is easily installed in many vehicles to add modern functionality. The capacitive touch screen is easy to see, even in bright, direct light. It can even be adjusted to compensate for bizarre dash designs and to make viewing angles easier.

The 4500NEX is out-of-the-box ready for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making it a great upgrade option to take advantage of today’s most popular forms of streaming content, whether it is a navigation app, music, or pictures of your dog. Connectivity includes apps for Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM radio among others. The 4500NEX is equipped with Miracast for Android and allows wireless screen mirroring.

Voice control is recognized as a leading technology to reduce distracted driving, and the Pioneer 4500NEX is already equipped. In addition to all the great connectivity options, Pioneer really made a solid product that is safe to use while driving, something that many manufacturers struggle to do. High-resolution buttons on the touchscreen make adjustments on the fly a breeze. In fact, Pioneer went ahead and installed built-in apps for weather, music streaming, and other features to make operation as simple as possible for customers.

Like all aftermarket upgrade touch screen head units, getting the right cables to connect is essential. Functionality for things like satellite antenna and steering wheel controls are vehicle specific, but easily connected to get the most out of the newest touch screen power house from Pioneer.

Pros
  • Excellent screen
  • Sound quality of a higher-priced unit
  • Tons of connectivity options
Cons
  • Some users report connectivity with Apple CarPlay
  • Climate control buttons can be difficult to use while driving

2. Runner Up, Overall Pick: Kenwood Excelon DDX8906S

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.95″ capacitive touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • 6-channel gold-plated preamp outputs (5-volt front, rear, sub)

Latest Prices

Buy on Amazon $649.00
Buy on Ebay.com $649.00
Buy on Crutchfield.com $649.99
Last Amazon price update was: December 12, 2019 11:12 pm

Kenwood DDX8906S Quick Review

Kenwood took a swing for the fences when upgrading their premium double DIN head unit. The DDX8906S is a power house of a head unit that offers an array of connectivity options. The 8906S is out-of-the-box ready to play music wirelessly using Android Auto, Apple CarPlay (wired and wireless), and wirelessly mirrors Android OS devices.

The 6.95” WVGA touchscreen has been redesigned to provide a simpler, less congested experience. The customizable widgets give quick access to a wide variety of apps, from weather and navigation to music playing, and many other features. The capacitive touchscreen is accurate and simple, a design Kenwood hopes will help relieve distracted driving.

If all the other options for connecting music to the 8906S aren’t enough, Kenwood went ahead and threw in dual USB ports that allow users to play music from thumb drive storage or charge a device. The 8906S is Sirius Radio ready and has a built in HD radio tuner. The head unit is Hi-Rez audio ready, too. Still not enough? Kenwood engineered the 8906S to connect wirelessly with up to five devices simultaneously, so everyone in the car can get a turn blasting their favorite tune.

The head unit allows users the ability to fine tune their experience with a 13-band equalizer and a real-time speaker adjustment feature. The customizable experience takes the very good sound quality of a Kenwood head unit to another level. Hi-Rez audio playback is smoother and better than CD sampling for a natural sounding experience. Kenwood used the highest quality capacitors and other components when designing the 8906S to ensure Hi-Rez playback is superior to the competition.

The 8906S has three inputs for cameras to take advantage of side mirror camera technology that is becoming more common today. The screen even displays parking lines when used with a back up camera. Dash cameras can be displayed right on the screen, too.

Pros
  • Lots of connectivity options and features for iPhones and Androids
  • Excellent build quality
  • Packed with audio & customization features
Cons
  • No upgrade to power from previous generation
  • Higher priced

3. Smartphone Compatibility Pick: JVC KW-V950BW

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.8″ Clear Resistive touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Dual phone connection
  • 6-channel preamp outputs (5-volt front, rear, subwoofer)

Latest Prices

JVC KW-V950BW Quick Review

The JVC KW-V950BW is a 6.8” multimedia receiver that has plenty to offer under its sleeves. From incredible features to awesome Smartphone integration, high-resolution audio delivery, and incorporated safety precautions, the JVC KW-V950BW has it all.  If you are an iPhone or Android user, this system easily connects to your phone’s Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and provides access to most of your important features including maps, contacts, music libraries, and more – directly from the receiver’s screen through touch or voice control. This allows you to drive safely and still enjoy most of your phone’s features.

Select Android users additionally get wireless mirroring, allowing them to seamlessly display their apps on the receiver’s screen without the need for cables. JVC has ensured the safety of users by making the feature only accessible when the car is parked. The JVC KW-V950BW can play audio and video content from a broad range of sources and supports satellite radio, Pandora and Spotify. It offers great Bluetooth compatibility, letting you stream your favorite music playlists wirelessly and also pick calls hands -free. You can connect up to 5 Bluetooth devices and stream songs simultaneously from any of the paired devices.

The KW-V950BW produces super audio quality and offers a host of adjustment options to tune the sound to match your preferences. It uses the K2 technology for enhanced digital sound performance, Sound Response for better audio clarity, Time Alignment for perfect sound delivery by each speaker to your position, and Sound Lift for virtual manipulation of your speaker’s height.

Pros
  • Simple design and friendly user-interface
  • 2 phones full-time connection via Bluetooth
  • Remote app control
  • Superb Sound quality
  • A broad range of sound customization options
  • Voice recognition capability
Cons
  • 6.8″ screen instead of 7″ screen
  • High price

4. Splurge Pick: Alpine INE-W960HDMI

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD/Multimedia receiver
  • 6.1″ motorized touchscreen
  • 9-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, subwoofer)

Latest Prices

Buy on Ebay.com $484.99
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Crutchfield.com
Last Amazon price update was: December 12, 2019 8:55 am

Alpine INE-W960HDMI Quick Review

If you're an Alpine lover looking for a head unit for your car that supports video, here's the perfect receiver for you. The Alpine IVE-W960HDMI has plenty of options that will turn your car stereo into an entertainment hub. Built-in Bluetooth for hands free phone calls and audio streaming, App Mode for app control with your smartphone, and other media expansion options through its USB connectivity or auxiliary inputs. And for those who need built-in navigation, the IVE-W960HDMI has it!

The W960HDMI is Alpine's replacement of its previous unit, the INE-W960. We loved this model so much that it made our 2016 list last year. The W960HDMI has all of the great features from it's predecessor. Some of the great features that came along with this updated DVD/CD receiver is its plethora of media connections, hands-free and music streaming via Bluetooth, door-to-door guidance, and just its easy to use interface. Also, one of the key additions to this unit over it's predecessor is the HDMI input and satellite radio tuner for radio lovers.

Other great features:

  • 6.1″ touchscreen monitor
  • 18W x 4 (RMS) CEA-2006 compliant internal amp
  • Maps of U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
  • 7 million points of interest
  • text to speech guidance navigation

If you want a great head unit, love the quality and interface of Alpine, this is a great head unit to consider.

Pros
  • Easy to use with your Smartphone because of App Mode
  • Plenty of media expansion options
  • Substantial amount of features for the price
  • Easy to use interface
Cons
  • Some people site complexity in updating the navigation system map information

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.95″ motorized touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • 6-channel preamp outputs (5-volt front, rear, sub)

Latest Prices

Buy on Amazon $799.00
Buy on Crutchfield.com $799.99
Buy on Ebay.com $595.00
Last Amazon price update was: December 12, 2019 12:11 am

Kenwood DDX9906XR Quick Review

The Kenwood Exelon DDX9906XR is the company’s flagship non-nav equipped DVD head unit. The double-DIN head unit has one of the nicest touchscreens on the market. Kenwood went above and beyond to produce a better-than-factory head unit with gobs of power and an amazing array of connectivity options for virtually any user.

The big improvement for the newest flagship head unit is the integration of Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and wireless screen mirroring for Android OS devices. Simply connecting a device to the bluetooth transmitter allows seamless music playback from the most popular streaming apps. Simplified systems, such as Android Auto, are important for reducing the tendency of drivers to become distracted by overly complex screens. The Kenwood 9906XR is among the best on the market for providing a distraction free driving experience.

The 6.8” capacitive LCD touch screen allows for customizable widgets that give quick access to important features, like weather and traffic reports. The high definition screen is a pleasure to look at from any angle, and details seem to pop right off the screen. While the unit does not include navigation built-in, wireless connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make it simple to get directions quickly. Kenwood designed the touchscreen with an anti-glare coating that improves visibility and reduces fingerprint smudges.

Customers should expect the 9906XR to have every possible feature on the market today, and this head unit does not disappoint. A built-in 13 band equalizer provides unlimited adjustability, while live speaker control allows custom tuning to each speaker.

The 9906XR has two included USB ports, so drivers can play music from a thumb drive while charging their phone. The head unit even uses Drive EQ technology that automatically boosts certain frequencies often muddied up by road noise. Most features can be controlled using the Kenwood app, making it easy to use a smartphone or tablet as a remote control.

The 9906XR is factory-equipped with three camera inputs, so backup cameras, side view cameras, and even dash cams can be viewed right on the display. The unit has an adjustable parking guide line feature for helping use a backup camera safely.

Pros
  • Great, responsive and clear LCD touchscreen
  • Wide array of connectivity options
  • Easy to use interface
Cons
  • Some users reported lag and issues with some features on the touchscreen

6. Value Pick: Pioneer AVH-201EX

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.2″ touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • 6-channel preamp outputs (2-volt front, rear, and subwoofer)

Latest Prices

Buy on Amazon $145.00
Buy on Ebay.com $159.00
Buy on Crutchfield.com
Last Amazon price update was: December 12, 2019 10:12 am

Pioneer AVH-201EX Quick Review

Eager to upgrade your in-car entertainment but don't want to spend a fortune? The Pioneer AVH-201EX could be the way to go. This plays DVDs on the 6.2″ 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen (with parking brake engaged,) or can send the video to monitors in the back (not included.) It also offers BlueTooth, plays CD's and connects to your iPod via the USB port. And if that's not enough, you can plug in a rearview camera for improved visibility when reversing!

If music is your thing you'll be happy to learn this double-DIN head unit puts out 14 watts RMS per channel and has 6 preamp outputs on the rear. That covers front and rear speakers plus a subwoofer. For those people who want higher quality music, this handles FLAC through the USB port.

The display itself offers a choice of five colors plus there are 112 shades of illumination. The unit also lets you pick between several background images. Other points that might influence your buying decision include:

  • Connects to two phones at once
  • 13 band Customizable Graphic Equalizer
  • Remote control included
Pros
  • Price is on the lower end
  • Simple interface and great features for the price
Cons
  • Power output is low
  • USB input is at the rear

7. Budget Pick: Kenwood DDX376BT

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.2″ touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, subwoofer)

Latest Prices

Buy on Amazon $178.00
Buy on Ebay.com $209.99
Buy on Crutchfield.com $229.99
Last Amazon price update was: December 12, 2019 10:11 pm

Kenwood DDX376BT Quick Review

Building a proper stereo experience on a budget often means cutting corners and accepting that some components are not great. The Kenwood 376BT is a low-cost touchscreen DVD/CD/AM/FM/Wireless unit that packs tons of power and features typically reserved for high end head units. There is no reason to use an inferior head unit when this slick setup can be had for around the same amount as a decent quality non-touchscreen unit.

Kenwood recently redesigned the 376 from the inside out. With a faster processor and an array of connectivity, this head unit is intended to be easy to use. Kenwood has relocated the menu button to a separate location on the 376, leaving the volume knob to do it’s one, important job. In fact, each button has been reworked for a better feel in an effort to create the safest infotainment systems available.

Distraction free driving is an important element of design these days. All of Kenwoods touchscreen head units use a variety of software and hardware to provide a simple interface that also looks great. The 6.2” touch screen is resistive touch-enabled and looks good from any viewing angle, while Kenwood’s engineers went above the call of duty to design easy to see, intuitive digital buttons for accessing the multitude of features available.

These days, everyone is streaming music, and any self-respecting head unit should be compatible. The Kenwood 376 allows for bluetooth connectivity of up to five devices at once and has built-in compatibility with Android Music Play and Wireless Music Browsing using a bluetooth-connected device. The head unit is factory-ready for SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Pandora, and supports all the common file formats, including FLAC.

The 376 is backup camera ready also and features an input for a dash cam. Adjustable parking guidelines simplify reversing when using a connected backup camera. Adjustable LED lighting allows users to custom-tailor the appearance of the screen to suit their mood.

Pros
  • Low cost
  • Excellent quality and clarity screen
  • USB port for charging and playing music
Cons
  • Lacks connectivity to the latest systems for Android and Apple
  • Screen brightness is not great, particularly in bright light

8. Single Din Pick: Pioneer AVH-3500NEX

Key Features

  • Single din DVD/CD receiver
  • 7″ motorized touchscreen
  • 13-band graphic equalizer
  • Built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, subwoofer)

Latest Prices

Pioneer AVH-3500NEX Quick Review

Very few head units are cooler than a single-DIN unit with a flip out screen. It is just too awesome of a feature to ignore, but many of the units out there are not very good. The 3500NEX is Pioneer’s latest stab at the elusive single_DIN flip out market, and this thing hits the high marks across the board.

The nearly 7” screen is motorized and opens and retracts quickly and flawlessly. The screen is truly beautifully designed with simple to understand icons and an anti-glare coating. Pioneer built-in apps for navigation, weather, and many others. The biggest tech upgrade for this head unit is it now supports Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and wirelessly connects to Pandora, Spotify, and SiriusXM radio.

The previous Pioneer flip out had a well-known issue with detachable faceplate security that would fail to retain the removable portion. The 3500NEX fixed the issue and added a more robust retaining feature that securely locks the faceplate in place.

The touchscreen tends to take all the attention, but the manual controls on the unit itself should also be lauded. Big, bright knobs have a fantastic feel, making on the fly adjustments to sound or song easy.

Distracted driving has become a big issue in the last several years, particularly as infotainment-type stereos have become more standard in newer vehicles. Pioneer has addressed distracted driving here by incorporating hands-free technology using an included microphone. this allows voice-control of many features.

Factory and aftermarket backup cameras can be connected using ports on the rear of the unit. Want to play DVDs, CDs, or stream off an MP3 player? Go for it because Pioneer made sure to include all these features.

Pros
  • Sleek design
  • Fits in single-din openings
  • Great hideaway touchscreen
Cons
  • Newer product that doesn't have a lot of reviews yet (as of Sept. 2019)

9. Style & Looks Pick: Sony XAV-AX5000

Key Features

  • Double din DVD/CD receiver
  • 6.95″ motorized touchscreen
  • 10-band graphic equalizer
  • 5-channel preamp outputs (2-volt front, rear, mono sub)

Latest Prices

Sony XAV-AX5000 Quick Review

Sony has produced a premium product with a budget price tag with the XAV-AX5000. The double-din head unit hits the high points, giving users control over Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and streaming apps like Pandora and Spotify.

The 6.95” touchscreen is among the very best looking on the market, and is now 2.5 times faster to wake up than the previous generation. The touchscreen is a bezel-less affair for that effortlessly modern look in any car. Bright colors and simple layout make for an appealing touchscreen that is viewable even in intense daylight.

The XAV-AX5000 is designed around safe, distraction-free driving. Fonts are bold and easy to read, if a little boring. Controls are simple to find and straight-forward to use, which helps encourage drivers to stay focused on the road ahead.

In a time when almost every manufacturer is switching to 100% capacitive buttons, it’s nice to see Sony stick with the tried-and-true physical volume and other basic operations. This provides a much less distracting environment by allowing drivers to easily access the most useful features of the stereo.

Dual USB ports and 3 2V preouts offer excellent connectivity to external devices and amplifiers. Built-in amplification through Sony’s exclusive Dynamic Reality Amp 2 and the 4x55w channel options pump out clear and life-like tunes. Another exclusive feature, Sony’s Dynamic Sound Organizer detects speaker locations and adjusts the sound to replicate a massive, dashboard-mounted theater experience.

Speaking of the dashboard, Sony engineers put some out of the box thinking to work and engineered the head unit to take up less space behind the dash than other double-din units. This allows for a cleaner installation for many users, and is a must for those who have limited room to work.

Check out our full review of the XAV-AX7000, the AX5000's sister unit.

Pros
  • Easy on the wallet for such a feature-packed head unit
  • Great sounding entry level stereo
  • Fantastic array of connectivity options
Cons
  • Limited customizability to display, such as backgrounds that are limited to preinstalled images.
  • Preouts are only 2V
  • Some users have reported problems with Android Auto crashing.

How We Tested

We take a lot of time to research our products. And we're constantly updating them. The list that you see on this page might be an aggregation of the past two or three years of products. We intentionally keep older products on our list if we feel that they are indeed still dominant to others on the market. In order to find the top rated DVD and multimedia receivers, we combine our research across the web with first hand tests and opinions. Among the many things we look at, here's a few general things we consider:

  • Style (Looks, Design) – Who wants an ugly head unit in their dash?
  • Display Type (LCD, Dotted, LCD Text, etc.) – A poor screen can ruin any great movie or feature.
  • Features (Bluetooth, Smartphone Compatibility, Equalizer, etc) – Making sure that you're getting a DVD/Multimedia receiver with the latest and greatest features that the industry has to offer.
  • Power Ratings (Peak, RMS) – Quality of sound is a key component.
  • Price – The most amount of features without breaking the bank.
  • Expandability (# of RCAs, XM/Sirius Read, Steering Wheel Control Ready, etc) – You may need the unit to hook up to external features.
  • Quality – Materials used, manufacturer reputation, etc.
  • Online Reviews – From multiple vendors like Crutchfield, Amazon and more.

The result of our time and effort is a list of our recommended top rated and reviewed car DVD head units. No these are not ads and we don't get paid to feature them (although if you do purchase one please use our buy links to support our cause). We provide multiple comparisons of prices from vendors across the web too in an attempt get you the best price on all of your products. They're normally updated every 24 hours. But in the end, the best video & DVD receiver is one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your car.

And, be sure to take a look through our Easy Guide to Installing a Car Stereo if you do decide to purchase a DVD Head Unit and install yourself!

Best Car Stereos & Head Units: What to Look For

Every car requires a unique combination of car stereo components to sound great. A car stereo may sound excellent in one car, but sound terrible in another. Additionally, the limitations in size and wiring configuration make selecting the best car DVD Player even more difficult for you.

The best car stereo will give you the features you love while conforming to the environment of your car and create an excellent reproduction of the music that you love. With the right car stereo, you'll be able to custom tailor frequencies to your car, integrate your favorite music/media device, connect to your smartphone via bluetooth and much more.
At CarAudioNow, we use multiple key criteria when rating products in our top lists. Below is a list of criteria that we take into consideration while choosing head units for your vehicle.

Power Ratings

Power ratings are extremely important feature to consider while choosing a car stereo. Without an external amplifier, the power output of the car stereo is what dictates the power of your speakers and ultimately the power of sound. There are typically two power output ratings that are given with car stereos:

Max Power Output: Max power rating is the maximum amount of power that the car stereo can emit for short periods of time. It is the maximum amount of power that will be sent to your speakers (without an external amplifier)
RMS (Continuous) Power Output: RMS power rating is the amount of power that the car stereo can emit at a constant or continuous rate. This is the most important power output rating.
Along with power handling and output, the level of control of the output sound's shape is also very important. This control is typically made through a built-in equalizer (EQ). It will allow you to tailor the shape of sound, raising or lowering the level of certain frequencies in order to best optimize the output sound for the environment of your car. The higher the number of bands that the car stereo's equalizer has, the more you will be able to customize the frequencies and shape of your music and sound.

Display

Display features play a huge role in how stylish and user-friendly car stereos are. High end car stereos will have a high LED pixel count, and give customizable features like color and brightness in order to match the color of your interior.

Playback

Playback can be defined as the methods that your car stereo is capable of playing back audio. CD, DVD, MP3, HD Radio, Pandora, Auxiliary (Aux) Ports, Bluetooth; these are all examples of playback types that the quality units will typically have.
You will want to make sure that the playback methods that you intend on using is consistent with the playback features of the car stereo, otherwise you may be stuck with a head unit that doesn't play your music in the format that you have it. Here is a breakdown of the most popular playback features in the best car DVD and Multimedia Players:

  • HD Radio: HD Radio is the same radio stations that you listen to, but with a higher audio quality and more metadata than tradition radio. Metadata includes titles, artists, albums and more.
  • CD Player: CD players will play your favorite CDs in multiple formats, including CD,CD-R/RW, MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA.
  • Auxiliary (Aux) Port: Auxiliary ports allow you to connect any music device that you may have using a headphone connector. Typically, in our opinion, the best head units will have an easily accessible auxiliary port on the front of the unit.
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth music allows you to connect to your music on a smartphone or other bluetooth enabled device, playing all of your music wirelessly from your device via a Bluetooth connection.
  • USB Port: A USB port will allow you to connect your music devices via a USB connection. It will allow you to listen to your favorite music from your device, while charging it for endless listen time.
  • XM Radio: XM radio is satellite radio such as SiriusXM, that allows you to connect and listen to thousands of channels of radio via a satellite connection. This increases the coverage of radio that you have, however requires a paid subscription.

Smartphone Integration

All of the latest car stereos allow you to fully integrate with your smartphone, enabling the best features such as Pandora and Spotify while allowing you to answer phone calls without touching your smartphone. With recent legislation prohibiting you from using your phones while driving, it is becoming increasingly important for the best car stereos to fully integrate with your smartphone. Additionally, they will come with microphones with noise-canceling technology that will hone in on your voice and eliminate road noise.

Expandability

Expandability is what allows you to connect external components to your car stereo. The best car stereos will have at least three 4volt RCA outputs (Front, Rear, Subwoofer), Audio/Video (AV) input/outputs, rear view camera inputs (with compatible displays) and a microphone input.