When you want the best of everything in audio, video, and music entertainment for your sport truck, you have a few options. One of them is this incredibly versatile entertainment center called the XAV-A1 from Sony. The company has managed to pack everything we could ever want in a head unit and a few things we never thought of. Not only does the A1 reproduce music from CDs, radio broadcasts, satellite radio, and MP3 formats, but the single DIN-sized unit also doubles as a DVD player. No matter how long the road trip, you and your friends will have something to groove to. While road-testing the unit, we discovered quite a few other uses for the A1 that Sony so thoughtfully included.
The A1 features a motorized 7-inch-wide screen monitor and has adjustments for not only the viewing angle, but the screen also slides fore and aft to compensate for different dashboard configurations. This is especially helpful when a column shifter gets in the way. For security purposes, the lower portion of the head unit is detachable and also doubles as controls and a separate information display when the monitor is in the closed position. Our favorite feature in this area, though, has to be the audio/video input positioned in the front lefthand corner of the unit. We delighted in easily plugging our camcorder into the head unit, switching to an auxiliary channel, and watching home movies right from the front seat of the truck. Of course, we were parked when doing so. The input is also great for adding an additional portable music source to the A1. Of course, there are several other video inputs for adding your favorite gaming console to the unit.
Another great add-on to this Xplod entertainment center is a switchable video input that can be used for useful purposes, such as viewing a back-up camera positioned behind your sport truck. This is an excellent feature that makes backing into parking spaces or hitching up a trailer much safer. While the A1 does offer great standard features, its ease of use and flexible nature is what really excites us. Not only is a wireless RF remote included, but the monitor offers touch-screen controls. The touch screen is one of the better we've encountered, its execution precise, which means that you won't be clumsily activating buttons that you didn't intend to push. Even the on-screen icons that are close together are easily navigated and activated. We especially appreciated the separate menus for artist and track information listing, built-in equalizer, preset Xplod audio settings, and excellent control over external amplifier signals. A built-in 200-watt amplifier had no trouble generating smooth sound from the factory speakers in our test vehicle either. All in all, this is one head unit that provides great entertainment, ease of use, a very quick learning curve, and lots of flexibility for the end user.