Anyone looking to seriously upgrade the audio and entertainment experience in their vehicle without spending a mountain of money are going to want to look closely at everything the new Sony XAV AX100 has to offer.
Sony has been making very impressive digital media receiver solutions for a while now, upgrading the sound quality and entertainment capabilities of vehicles with aftermarket components, but the XAV AX100 is a unique piece of technology in a couple of different ways.
Not only does it offer a beautiful and cutting-edge touchscreen with all the “creature features” you’d expect from top-tier technology, but it does so at a very affordable price tag. Only a few small bells and whistles are missing from the Sony XAV AX100 that you find on much higher end (and much more expensive) units, and all in all the Sony XAV AX100 doesn’t cut corners to cut costs.
To learn a little bit more about everything that the Sony XAV AX100 brings to the table we’ve put together this quick review.
The underlying digital media receiver technology in the XAV AX100 has been mated directly to a 6.4 inch resistive touchscreen that uses Active Matrix technology. This allows for the screen to produce vivid colors and high fidelity while at the same time offering resistive touchscreen feedback.
No, the Sony XAV AX100 isn’t quite as responsive or as accurate as capacitive touchscreens. But the difference between those top-of-the-line options and the resistive technology here is negligible. You’ll be able to use the XAV AX100 the same way that you use your mobile phone or tablet at home, with all the tap navigations, and never feel like you are being held back.
The unit is configured in a Double DIN dashboard mounting system. The hardware is high-quality and makes for a simple and straightforward “drop right in” kind of installation”. This is only helped along by the wiring harness and prewiring solutions that have been tightly integrated into the XAV AX100 as well.
All of this is found directly in the box when you begin to dig through it. You’re also going to find a lot of mounting hardware, including screws, Velcro, double-sided tape, and more. Everything you need to get this unit configured into your dashboard is included within. All you’ll need are a couple of hand tools (maybe some power tools, like a cordless drill to speed things up) to finish the job the right way.
Speaking of that wiring harness, there are a variety of extra hookups and pre-out harness options that are included as well. This lets you make the most of the extensibility of the XAV AX100 system without having to do a lot of hardwiring yourself. Maybe later down the line you want to add a couple of different accessories (from Sony or from other third-party manufacturers, the freedom of choice is great) and you’ll find that these extras really make things a breeze.
Inside of the XAV AX100 box you’ll also find a likely longer than 4 ½ feet USB extension cord. The best thing to do with this is to plug one end into the USB input in the rear of the device and then fish the wire through your dashboard so that you can connect mobile devices on the go with these. The extra length makes finding the right spot for the cable to be deployed pretty straightforward while giving you a lot of freedom, too.
The included remote control is simple and straightforward to use. It was nice of the folks at Sony to throw in a lithium-ion battery. Some companies out there give you an intuitive remote control but don’t include the battery right out of the box, which can be a real headache and hassle to track down later down the line.
Rounding things out is an external microphone so that you can use the voice command and control capabilities of the Sony XAV AX100. This is attached to 12 feet of microphone cable that plugs directly into the rear of the XAV AX100 unit itself, letting you position the microphone throughout your vehicle so that you get the clearest audio signal possible. This helps with making calls, voice controlling your device, and so much more.
It’s not every day that you see Active Matrix screens being used in digital media receivers for vehicles, but the folks at Sony really feel strongly about providing the highest video fidelity and accurate color representation while still offering a fantastic touchscreen experience.
This VGA display is gorgeous to look at (and the Sony UI and color scheme makes it easy to use) but the resistive touchscreen technology means that is just as responsive and just as accurate as your mobile phone or tablet. It may not be quite as slick or as fancy as flagship devices from Apple or Android (and the pinch/swipe navigation options are going to be tough to use here) but it definitely gets the job done in the car.
Of course, the inclusion of physical controls help to take the Sony XAV AX100 to the next level. Sony has always made very ergonomically designed physical controls for all of their electronics and the XAV AX100 is no exception.
Almost everything can be controlled or manipulated from a bank of simple controls on the left-hand side of the XAV AX100 screen. The volume knob acts as a control wheel and button depending on the UI elements you are highlighting in the Sony interface.
Combine that with the voice navigation and command options you’ll enjoy and you won’t ever have to worry about being a distracted driver while still making the most of all the XAV AX100 has to offer.
It’s kind of crazy to think about how Sony has really hammered home on the essentials of what makes a digital media receiver so special and then executed them to perfection without adding a lot of frills or unnecessary extras. This helps to keep the cost of the XAV AX100 down without compromising its usefulness or functionality.
Just like pretty much every other modern digital media receiver worth purchasing these days the Sony XAV AX100 includes support for both Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
As soon as you plug a device running the iOS or Android operating system into the USB cord provided with the XAV AX100 you’ll be able to use the full suite of software solutions from Apple and Google straightaway.
You get a lot more control over your mobile device, you get access to a lot more mobile applications, and you’ll be able to do things like place calls, send texts, and reply to emails over voice to text protocols as soon as you get this up and running.
Bluetooth wireless connectivity also opens up the opportunity to control and command your device through the Sony platform. Unfortunately, as of right now there’s no way to utilize Carplay or Android Auto over the Bluetooth wireless protocol.
You’ll still be able to control your device and stream media from this wireless connection but you won’t get all of the benefits of those specifically designed software options unless you go hardwired via USB.
While the Sony XAV AX100 can be configured to use both Sirius XM and HD radio signals you will have to purchase separate accessory antennas (or use the ones that came with your vehicle) to get a signal from those sources.
Absolutely. Not only can you stream movies, music, and media from your mobile device over USB or Bluetooth connections, but you can also play the same media with a USB stick that has been preloaded up with content as well.
There is no physical media slot on the Sony XAV AX100. You won’t be able to play older CDs or DVDs but instead will have to play digital media through your mobile device or a USB stick as mentioned above.
When you get right down to it, there really aren’t a lot of other mid-level digital media receiver options on the market today that can come close to competing with the Sony XAV AX100.
No, it isn’t the latest and greatest example of what’s possible in automobile entertainment. But it isn’t trying to be that, either.
This is a solid, dependable, and very easy to use digital media system that will provide you with 90% of all the capabilities and features you’re looking for at a very affordable price point. The Sony XAV AX100 is certainly a recommended buy.