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VINE VOICEon November 23, 2010
Package Type: Standard Packaging|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
---------------------Update 11/29/2011-------------------------
Prior to the new iOS 5 update for the iPhone, when you connected to the stereo via bluetooth (with an iPhone), the screen would say, "BT Audio". Now, with the iOS 5 update that is available for the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, and 4S, the iPhone now sends data to the stereo display over the bluetooth connection. The screen no longer says "BT Audio", instead it shows the title of what you're playing, the time, track, date (of podcast), and all the other normal data you would see when playing something. You also have more control over starting/stopping, rewinding and fast forwarding from the stereo itself. It is a WONDERFUL feature that was not advertised for iOS 5. The bluetooth feature is without a doubt what I like most about this stereo, and it just got 200% better. Even if you don't have an iPhone but can connect to it by bluetooth with another phone, it works great and the sound quality has always been crystal clear/CD quality.

With this update, when you connect to the stereo WITH a cable (again this is for the iPhone), then you will also see the album art.

------------------------Quick Review---------------------------
For the quick and dirty review on this stereo, here's my thoughts. It's pricey, but it's an awesome unit. Satellite radio works great, and the navigation works great. I used to be a Garmin user but recently switched to TomTom because I've found the maps to be more up-to-date and I like the IQ Route feature (see below). I still have an old Garmin though and I get plenty of use out of it. The screen does tilt to allow for better viewing, I love that, and the removable navigation module is pure genius. However, one big thing that I absolutely do not like is that the navigation module only comes with the maps of the US and Canada, and you CAN'T buy and add European maps to it. This is a problem for me as I ship my car overseas. See below for the workaround if this is an issue for you. TomTom also only gives you 12 months of map updates, which is a bad call. Being that this is one of their flagship GPS units, it should be a lifetime update like they offer on some of their other models. There are a lot of additional costs associated with this stereo depending on what accessories you want to add to it: satellite radio/HD radio/rear view camera/steering wheel control. The rear view camera option is GREAT, but they don't even advertise that unless you dig deep into the manual.
Also, they are not clear at all in the manual about what you need to buy in order to add the optional features, so I've included the part numbers in the review below. If a remote control is important to you, I think the button layout they've chosen is terrible.

Overall, it's an excellent, solid stereo, with great navigation, but shame on Sony and TomTom for not giving lifetime map updates or the ability to add new maps. I honestly think that the better deal is the 660 model, which costs hundreds less and is only different in 2 ways... The screen is just a little bit smaller, but it's because they've included a volume control KNOB that is much easer to use than the volume control BUTTONS on the 770. Other than that, the two units are identical. For me this stereo is 4 stars, but I would imagine that for most folks it'd be a solid 5. You'll be happy with it even though it does have a few shortcomings on the GPS side.

---------------------------------------Full Review---------------------------------------
Touch Screen Interface/Menu:
The interface is very simple and user friendly. When you bring up the interface you can choose from Navigation, AV Source, and BT Phone (bluetooth). If you get busy and don't touch anything on the screen, the menu will go back to what you were previously looking at. There are 6 radio station preset buttons. If you want, you can choose to show navigation AND your A/V source on the screen at the same time (very cool), and can even choose where the additional window will appear on the display. Lastly, you can adjust the angle of the screen so you're not always have to touch it at a 90-degree angle; this feature is really nice. It also has day/night/auto settings.

Remote control:
The remote control is small and nice, but what I do not like about it is the location of the volume control. If you're holding it in your right hand, the volume control buttons are on the bottom right of the remote. Essentially, they are in the absolute worst place possible for being able to hit them easily while holding the remote with one hand. Whoever designed the button layout simply did not have a brain. However, I imagine that not many people will use the remote, so it's probably not a big deal for most folks.

SenseMe:
With this feature you can tell the stereo how you're driving, i.e. Chill out, freeway, etc, and it will choose songs for your mood. In order to use this feature, you'll need to get your USB Device (iPod or whatever) and then plug it into your home computer and set it up with some software. After that, you'll be good-to-go. It works pretty well and more than anything, it's just fun to do; I love it.

DVD player:
It works great, but a DVD player in the front seat? I can't see that as something I'd ever use, and here's why... Sure, it's nice to have a DVD player in the car, but I know in nearly every state, it's illegal for the driver to have a video display device operating and in view while driving. I know most installers will not setup the DVD player in the front seats to operate while the vehicle is in motion, so just know the law in your state and take care. I suppose you could make some sort of "blind" so your front seat passenger could watch a DVD while you can't see it, that would work...

Volume Control:
It's nice to see that Sony offers this stereo with either the volume control KNOB or the volume control BUTTONS. The most used feature of a radio is without-a-doubt, the volume control, and on this model (the 770), the volume control is 2 small buttons side-by-side on the bottom left of the face. On the 660 model, the volume control is the circular knob on the left side of the face. Although the 7" face is more sleek looking than the 6.1" face, you give up a lot when it comes to functionality in my opinion. It's just so much easier and faster to be able to turn the knob on the 660 than to push the 2 buttons on the more expensive 770 model. It's also much easier and faster to use the knob when you're not looking at the stereo and want to keep your eyes on the road. Make your own decision here, but just realize, if you want the more functional knob on the 660, you also get to pay a good bit less; it's a double bonus. Also, the difference in screen size may sound like a lot (7" vs. 6.1"), but it's not that noticeable. FYI, the screen is measured diagonally.

iPod/USB/iPhone:
It's specifically made for the iPod and iPhone and you can connect your iPod (or another USB Device) by an optional USB cable and control it through the receiver, and you can also connect your iPhone via Bluetooth. You can connect other bluetooth-enabled phones, but depending on the phone, you may have limited functionality.

GPS:
One feature I LOVE on the TomTom is that it does IQ Routes. It calculates the most efficient path of travel depending on the time of day and on traffic, because the shortest route is not always the fastest. TomTom has had this feature for a while so most of the bugs have been worked out of it. This is a feature that you can't find on a Garmin, and it works really well. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the lane assist feature. No more wondering what the upcoming freeway junction is going to look like and having to do a quick lane change at the last second. One thing that we all know is that sometimes, map data is wrong. Well, TomTom now lets you do something about that. There's a feature that lets you correct it now and even upload the correction to the TomTom community. You can also get map corrections from other users when you connect the navigation module to your home computer. It's very cool, and is an awesome feature. There's even a feature that lets you add the locations of speed cameras into your navigation unit, and then you can even report the location of the camera to the Tomtom community of users.

The GPS view is very clean and can show a 3D view or a top-down view. The 3 touch screen buttons on the bottom of the screen show speed, volume, and route info/time. On the TomTom you can navigate to a point on a map, whereas on a GPS like the Garmin, you need to have an address; this is a nice feature to have. Also, you can modify the GPS display that is shown when you're driving; another GREAT feature.

The Navigation Module/GPS Map Data:
The navigation module is about the size of a cell phone and holds all the map data for the GPS. It can be disconnected from a housing unit and brought into your house so you can connect it to your home computer to update maps, load destinations, trips, etc... It connects to the car stereo via a housing unit that most folks will store in either the glove compartment or another easily-accessed compartment. You are given the maps for the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately, you are only given 12 months of map updates, which, considering the cost of this stereo, is simply absurd. TomTom offers lifetime map updates on some of their other GPS products, so I have no idea why they didn't do that here. Also, if you want to add other maps, like Europe, TomTom DOES NOT allow you to do that. This could be a big problem for folks like State Dept employees, or Military Personnel who ship their vehicles overseas. There is a difficult workaround though... When you get to your destination in Europe, call the Sony support number for the country you're in and buy the European Navigation Module, then just swap it out with your U.S. Navigation Module. It's a terrible way to have to do it, but it's the only way I've found to make it work. TomTom customer support told me that they had received numerous calls about this issue so hopefully they'll change this. In the meantime, this may help you if you're one of the few in this situation:

When you call Sony Europe, you'll need to give them the European model number for your stereo, which is XNV-L770BT (all they did was add the L)

For your information, the part #'s for the different navigation modules are below. Also, Sony USA can not send you the modules for Europe; you must call Sony Europe.

148925611 - U.S. Navigation Module
148925621 - U.K./Ireland Navigation Module
148925631 - European Navigation Module

----------------------------Optional Accessories & Part Numbers--------------------------------

Rear View Camera:
The part number is XA-R800C.

Satellite Radio/HD Radio:
I love satellite radio and I listen to that exclusively. Because I have the satellite radio hooked up, I decided to not buy the part for the HD radio option since I wouldn't use it. If you want HD or Satellite Radio, here are the parts you'll need to buy:

HD Radio Part: XT100HD
Sirius Satellite Radio Part: Sirius SCC1 Connect & SNYSC1

Steering Wheel Interface:
If you car has a radio control system in the steering wheel, you can buy the interface to work with this stereo. Part number PAC SWI-PS
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on December 18, 2010
The Sony XNV-770BT is a fine piece of hardware. Has everything you would want in a receiver with great sound. The 770 has the capability to utilize almost any accessory you could want to include IPOD integration, rearview camera, DVD and video playback, and a well integrated bluetooth capability. The update module for TomTom is genius. However utilization of all the great hardware comes in a cumbersome and often frustrating software package.
The interface that has been implemented to utilize all this impressive hardware is extremely disappointing and makes many functions cumbersome and distracting. For example if you have more than six preprogrammed tuner presets, like many other units, you utilize different Bands FM1, FM2 etc to input additional presets. To switch between these you have to select band at which time the current presets slowly move out of view and the list of bands moves up. You than select the band you want but to get to the presets for that band you have to reselect the preset button. The band list than slowly moves out of view and the preset buttons move up. The whole process takes about 8-10 sec which is no big deal in the driveway but on the highway it is very cumbersome. There are many simple software issues like these throughout the system that really brings down the whole user experience. Another example while using the navigation a window is available to display current music source and ability to select a couple other windows. You cannot however make any changes to the av source from the nav screen. The simple addition of forward back arrows to switch between presets or cd tracks without having to come out of navigation, open up the tuner window to select what you want, than go back to nav would be so simple and so huge. The whole experience gives the impression that the software engineers never actually used the unit on a day to day basis prior to release. The Sony Sencme capability, which is supposed to give the ability to select tracks based on mood or tempo sounds awesome. In three attempts I haven't been able to make it work. Not to mention to load about 4 gig of music on a thumb drive through Sony's software takes about 3 1/2 hours. Cover images during MP3 or IPOD playback show up about a 1/4 of the size of the window that is allocated for them. And the list goes on...
All in all the 770 is a very good receiver and functions quite well. That is what makes the fact that the user interface is so bad so frustrating. This good unit could be great. In it's current form (sony firmware update please) I would take a long look at Pioneer's AVIC-Z120BT before I would purchase.
**UPDATE**
After having used this product for several months now my recommendation would be do not buy this product. In addition to my above critique there are a couple features that make this product one I plan on replacing. First while using the tuner if you hit anywhere besides a button or your touch isn't firm enough all the buttons fade out of view. That includes the millimeter space between buttons. Touching a screen while driving, this happens often and can be quite distracting and most annoying. Second the Tom Tom POI interface doesn't give any relative direction to your current position rendering it almost useless. As any one would know a gas station 10 miles in the right direction is much more convenient than one two miles the opposite. Finally the tom tom requires an update every two weeks or it will be unable to find satellites. It instead sits waiting for valid satellite signal. Inevitably you will not notice this until you need to navigate some where. My handheld Garmin has never once been unsuccessful at finding satellites without an update in over a year. The definition of frustrating is buying an 800 dollar navigation system and having to use your cellphone to navigate because it cant find a signal, the exact situation I have found myself in three times since this purchase.
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on October 11, 2011
I recently bought a Toyota Sienna that had all the bells and whistles. I loved the Bluetooth feature and rear view camera that I wanted to buy it for my Yaris...only I had to buy this after market product.

I am not going to give some scientific review that talks all about each and every feature of this radio. I am a simple person and I think this review is provided for those of us who want to know if this radio unit works well and is not so complicated to use.

It does work well. It is somewhat complicated to use but not so much that you can figure it out...even without reading the user manual. The radio takes a little figuring out as programming channels takes a little guess work combines with trial and error.

The navigation feature is easy to use and from my experiences to date, very accurate.

The DVD isn't something I really cared about and came with the unit so I haven't even tried it yet. The CD works fine as does the remote control that makes operating the CD and radio much easier than the touch screen.

The one thing that I can say that makes this unit dangerous is that it provides a level of distraction that has almost resulted in a couple of accidents. I was paying more attention to the radio than the road and missed hitting another car. If you are easily distracted, think twice before getting this. Trying to operate the radio and drive is a challenge that you will not quickly master. I have invoked a personal policy to not change the radio or program the navigation while I am in motion. I would recommend that very strongly!

Overall, I would buy this again knowing everything I now know by benefit of having it for a week or so. I am sure in the coming weeks I will develop a more thorough understanding of all the features and make an update.

If you can afford it, purchase these options on your car when it is new and you get a much more polished and sleek product. This unit (mic and rear camera) looks like fish out of water. It works, works well, but looks like it doesn't belong.

Hope this helps with your buying decision!

UPDATE 10-17-2011

After almost 2 weeks, the major thing I want to warn people out is the TomTom system. You have to take out a module that is like a hard drive and hook it up to your computer. After repeated attempts to link into the TomTom site to activate the map, I never could get through. I got a "internal server error". I contacted TomTom's customer service email and they had suggestions, but none of them worked.

The in-dash radio/CD/DVD/Bluetooth work fantastic. I just wish Sony would change GPS providers and go with another company that has better online support.

UPDATE 11-11-2011

A month later and I still love the radio. The one thing that is annoying is that there is a level above completely off where the video display cycles through the radio selling features. I find this annoying and if someone knows of a way to stop it, please let me know!

Another thing I wish I could change is the face on the screen when the radio or iPod is playing. Also, the automatic night/day function doesn't appear to be working so I have to manually change it over. Driving at night with the radio in daytime screen mode is very distracting.

The TomTom isn't a fully functional as my other TomTom 710. The options are limited but the level of location precession superior.

I will wait for about the 6 month mark to give an update.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon December 29, 2010
Package Type: Standard Packaging|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A couple of the reviews here had me worried, but I have to say, I'm quite happy with this unit. If the kitchen is the heart of every house, then my Sony XNV-770BT is arguably the heart of my new car.

I had this unit just over a month before I could finally get it professionally installed. I toyed with doing it myself, but I have a new disabled access van and decided it's way too sophisticated for me to be tinkering with installing something like this on my own. Luckily, I found one of the few mom and pop stereo install shops left in my neighborhood and they installed everything (including backup cam and steering controls) for just over $200. (Best Buy wanted twice that! And I'd rather support my local shop than a big company.) The job took all day, in part due to the complexities of my van, but everything works flawlessly, including the hands-free mic for calls.

Stream Music From Any USB Flash Drive

The part I was most concerned about was the USB functionality -- I wasn't sure if any USB drive would work or if I had to have an iPod or MP3 player. Thankfully, this does work with any USB drive (or at least with all the ones I've tried personally.) I just loaded 4gb of music onto a spare flash drive, plugged it in, and there it was! All the folders I created were there and it's easy to navigate from one to the next. There's no lag time at all jumping from folder to folder, the songs play flawlessly, and the AV screen even shows all the track info and album art too -- perfect! The manual says not to leave the USB drive plugged in when you turn off the car, as it could result in data loss. But I've chosen to ignore that advice and leave my USB drive plugged in all the time, and when I start the car up, the music resumes right where it left off! I don't see myself needing more than 4gb right now (it's more than 25 CDs worth of music) but it's nice to know I can easily add more music, or even just upgrade to a larger drive if need be. I even added a folder of JPEGs for a slideshow. I couldn't be happier!

Bluetooth Music Streaming from my Android Phone!

If USB drives are too old hat for you, how about streaming music right off your phone!? I have an Android phone and pairing it to this Sony 770 was quick and easy. I had music playing from my phone via this Sony within a minute, and it sounds great -- no dropouts or interference of any kind! The bluetooth connection is rock solid and the music sounded fantastic! I was concerned that the audio quality or even the volume would degrade, but it was pitch perfect and crystal clear. How cool is that?!? Between bluetooth streaming and my USB drive, I don't see myself playing a run-of-the-mill CD in my car ever again! And just like listening to music on my phone, the music pauses automatically if a call comes in, and then resumes again after the call has ended -- perfect! I have several play-lists already setup on my phone, so accessing the music I want is fast and easy. Even better, I don't have to carry an extra device around with me -- just my Android cell phone -- my one-stop shopping for accessing the globe!

Hands-free Calling

Just like streaming music via bluetooth, you can use your phone to make hands-free calls with this Sony 770. The AV screen shows the caller ID info, and you can answer and make calls from it too. Callers can be heard over your stereo's speakers, and the mic included with this unit picks up my voice loud and clear. I may never use a bluetooth headset in my car again! The AV screen even shows my phone's battery life, signal strength and even displays contacts. Quite happy with how all this works.

TomTom Navigation

My first nav was a dash-mount Garmin nüvi 5000. I really liked how it worked and was concerned about switching to TomTom. But I have to say, I'm really pleased with it. The color scheme is very pleasing to the eye, and there are several additional color themes to choose from, so you're not lacking for options if you want a change. As far as navigating, I often like to choose between using freeways or surface streets (this is a big deal if you live in L.A.) so I have mine set to ask me what type of route I prefer each time I plan a destination. And it's also very easy to just ask the nav to skip or reroute any portion of the route by just touching on the entry I want to avoid. The map renderings are fast, crisp and clean. Searching for POIs is likewise fast and easy. My old Garmin often lagged or outright froze when doing searches, so this is a welcome change here.

A cool feature I like, is when any directions are spoken, the music volume I'm playing (USB, radio etc.) automatically lowers so I can hear the nav directions, then returns back to normal afterward. Not Earth shattering, but I like it! I guess since my Garmin was a dash mount with its own speaker, I wasn't used to this feature.

Speaking of voices, there's plenty to chose from, and in different languages too. And TomTom promises more voices are coming, like humorous ones and celebrity voices too. I'm pretty happy with the stock voice though; I call her Val, after a computer character from a cool cable reality show I love. (Fans will know the one!) One thing I do miss, however, is my old Val (on my Garmin) used to say "recalculating" when I missed a turn and the route needed to be changed. This TomTom just quietly reroutes my travel and just gives me the next turn on my new route. I guess this new Val is just being polite. ;-)

Traffic Cams - with my Garmin, the traffic cam feature was a paid add-on; but it's included on this TomTom. And you can even report missing cams, or new ones recently added. Actually, you can also submit map and POI corrections too; with the option of always trusting or ignoring data corrected by other users. Nice touch!

The only real flaw I see so far with the nav, is their online software. I went to TomTom's site and downloaded the recommended software, hoping I could add routes I plan on my computer onto the removable nav module. Apparently the feature is coming, but at this time, it doesn't appear to be available. I guess the nav and software are still too new, cuz there's several things that said 'coming soon' or that I just couldn't outright find. Maybe I missed something, but its not clearly available right now from what I saw.

I do agree with other reviewers, however, that lifetime map updates should have been included with this pricey nav. As it is, it only comes with 1 year of updates.

Planning and storing routes in advance is easy and a nice touch. Equally simple, is searching for a destination on the map itself and adding it as a fave. And you can even create your own menu of up to 6 fave places you go often which can be assigned an icon of your choice and then easily selected if you want to go there. This is great for my 6 most frequently traveled routes, but I wish the icons could be moved around in any order I wanted them on my menu. As it is, the nav places them in the order the icons appeared on the list of available icons. A bit screwy, but still ok and I do like the feature.

Unlike my Garmin, there's no added games or anything like that. But I don't really care since this 770 does so much else. Besides, I don't really want games on my nav, and the Garmin games were mostly just adverts for another paid add-on. Overall, I'm quite impressed with the TomTom nav and my transition from Garmin was a non issue for me. This 770 is just so cool, there's nothing to miss from my old GPS. Better still, this one is mounted in my dash, and not wobbling on top of my dash like my old Garmin. Definitely a huge upgrade for me!

Complex Menu Structure

If this 770 has any flaws, it might be the complex layout of the menus and user interface. But in truth, I really don't see this as a flaw, but a byproduct of getting such a sophisticated AV center. This thing is like a command center for your car; phone, radio, nav, DVD, CD, USB, backup cam, etc.... It does a whole lot, so it's only to be expected that there's a lot to work through. It's a lot to bite off from the onset, but once you start getting used to how everything is mapped out, it becomes second nature rather quickly. But still, I'll likely take care of most functions at the start of my trip, or maybe quickly at a traffic light. The screen does kinda demand your attention and could easily pull focus away from the road. But I'm normally content to listen to whatever I've chosen for the duration of my ride, and my nav is set before I put the car into drive, so there's no need to be tinkering with anything once my trip begins. And answering calls is visually simple to see and execute. Just know that there's gonna be a learning curve with this, as there is with most top notch equipment like this.

Optional Steering Controls

I wasn't going to spend the extra money to install this feature, but when my installer said he'd put it in along with my backup cam at no additional cost, I decided to go ahead and got the PAC SWI-PS unit here on Amazon. It was less than half the price I saw it for elsewhere and works flawlessly with this Sony 770. A few other reviews here complained that the volume controls on the 770 itself are too small to easily find while driving, so I figured the steering controls would be a good idea. In truth, I don't mind the buttons on the 770 itself (I'd rather have the largest screen possible, so the 660 is of no interest to me) besides, I'm really diggin' my steering controls, so I'll probably just use them exclusively. Once you get used to the convenience of steering controls, there's just no going back. I can adjust the volume, track up/down and the Mode (USB/CD/Tuner/DVD etc.) Very cool, and all for a very reasonable price!

Optional Backup Cam

I've been saying for years that backup cams should come standard on all cars. Well, now that navs are becoming standard equipment, so are backup cams. (Actually, I read a report somewhere that said backup cams are going to be required in all new cars soon.) They're so helpful and convenient, I'd never want to be without one. No, I don't use it instead of a rear-view mirror, but in conjunction with it; both offer a view the other doesn't, and combined, they help me backup more safely and help see more of what's behind me - indispensable! The cam I got is similar to this Pyle - PLCM24IR. I don't know if it's a true 16x9, to match the screen on the Sony 770, or if the 770 is just stretching the image, but the backup cam image does fill the entire width of the 770's screen. And the picture is crystal clear with no artifacts or dropouts, so I'm quite happy with it.

SenseMe Software

Honestly, this sounds like a cool idea, but I really have no use for it. I'd rather pick my own playlist and just go from there. I know what mood I'm in, and what I'd like to hear to reflect that, so as interesting as this little gimmick sounds, I'm just not that into it.

Custom Controls

There are oodles of configurations and settings one can play with here, both for the nav itself, and for the stereo settings. It's all a bit daunting at first, but once you go through them and figure out how you want everything set, there's really no need to ever touch most of it again.

Superior Sound

The stereo sounds great no matter what mode you select -- USB, CD, DVD, Bluetooth, radio -- whatever suits your fancy, it all sounds great. Much as this is to be expected, particularly from something by Sony, my installer confirmed that a lot of these AV units sound terrible; low volume, bad acoustics, etc. But the installer said he was quite impressed with how good it all sounded and the functionality of it all. He's been doing installs for 20 years and this was the first 770 he'd seen in person, and he genuinely felt it was one of the best models he'd seen. Nice to know, and it certainly seems like a great unit to me.

DVD Playback While Driving

I thought I read somewhere that this unit will not play DVD's while driving, as a safety feature. Or that it wouldn't play it on the unit's screen itself, but would play DVD's on an external source, like a monitor in the backseat, for kids. But I popped in a DVD and put the car into drive and it DOES play DVD's while driving. And actually, you can even have a dual screen of your Nav AND a DVD movie in a small box off to one corner. Just thought I'd mention it, in case anyone out there was wondering.

Bottom Line - This Sony 770 is a bit pricey, but it's well worth it. The unit has definitely upped the value and functionality of my van and I'm really thrilled to have it! It does everything I need with room to expand if I want to add better speakers or a sub-woofer. The screen is brilliant, colors vivid, USB functionality is exceptional and bluetooth integration with my Android phone (music, contacts, calls) makes me confident that this won't be obsolete anytime soon. And the nav is great too -- I like it better than my old Garmin. I fully expect to have this 770 for the life of my car. Excellent product all the way around and I feel really lucky and thankful to have it! Go for it, you won't be disappointed!
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on April 2, 2011
This is the third edit I've done on this review. Originally had nothing but great things to say about this HU. After using it for a while, my opinions on this have changed drastically.

The Sony XNV 770 has so much potential. You want to overlook things because you know how great it could be. The reality is, it has many flaws that arent apparent on paper or at first use but come out over time, I thought since I rated this 5 stars it would be irresponsible of me not to give an updated impression, after a few months of real world use.

The first problem I would say, something I absolutely hate about this head unit, as at least in my case, the GPS has proven to be completely unreliable. At least four or five times, the GPS has given up on me, saying it was unable to acquire satelite lock, even though the sky was completely clear. One of these times this was quite serious - it was 3 AM, the GPS was taking me home through completely unfamiliar roads, and suddenly it 'lost signal'. Again - perfectly clear night. Now, at 3 in the morning, in unfamiliar territory, I have no clue where I am. Maybe I shouldnt put so much faith in an electronic device - but in 7 years of use, my Garmin GPS' have never failed me, not once. Not in the worst thunderstorms, blizzards - I've never not been able to lock satelites. There are no updates scheduled from either TomTom or Sony - just go ahead and google this thing - people all over the internet are reporting the same problem.

After pulling over to the side of the road , trying to find where I was with a paper map (remember those?) it then dawned on me I could use my blackberry GPS to help locate myself. The paper map did nothing for me because I had no idea where I was to begin with. Luckily the blackberry pinpointed my location and using a combination of the berry and the old fashioned paper maps, I was able to get home.

The next day I began the process of trying to find out what happened with the unit. The next question is - where do you get updates for this device. Sony? Or TomTom? Well, depends on what part you want to update. The maps and Nav unit come from TomTom, but finding support for it is less than easy. There is next to nothing on Sony's website to find support information for this unit.

A couple other gripes - as others have said, the graphics for the tom tom navigation on the unit are not designed for a screen this large - so instead of upping the resolution, they simply 'stretch' them out - which makes the maps look blurry, not crisp at all. At first it didnt bother me, but considering the price of this unit, you would hope that this could be resolved somehow.

Another total GPS Gripe - you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT backup your GPS data. So , not only does this piece of crap freeze / lock up about once a week, when it does, you need to factory reset it. Once you do that, you lose all of your POIs, your settings, basically you are opening the thing back up as if it came out of the box. Make sure that sinks in. YOU CANNOT BACKUP YOUR WAYPOINTS, favorites, or anything at all from this device. Now - I can back up my 10 year old Garmin - but I cant back up the GPS data from a product produced in 2010 by two of the biggest electronics names in their respected industries. This thing is a total joke!

The iPod interface is not the best - Sony should really take a page from Alpine for this = but what can I say, I dont use the ipod feature since you can play directly from flash drives.

Other problems - the touch screen can be very finicky. It gets annoying after a while - by this I mean, you click an on screen button, and occassionaly nothing happens - as if you didnt press anything. Only problem is, the on screen buttons change color when they are depressed, so - the button will change color - you know the screen is registering the input, yet, it does nothing. Press it again a little harder , and you get the screen you want. Ridiculous.

I would not buy this unit again. I might consider the XAV - which is basically this unit, without the flawed TomTom navigation. But at its price point, id probably go with an Alpine HU. I cannot, repeat CANNOT believe anyone would give this device five stars. The only way that to me would be possible, is a new owner, excited after using it for a week, and hasnt gone through the countless hours of frustration, let downs and everything else this unit will bring you.

Buyer beware.

If after all of this , anyone out there would still consider paying hard earned money for what is essentially a defective piece of junk, send me an email. I'd be glad to get rid of mine!!

FWIW

I spent a good amount of time reviewing both this unit and similarily priced navigation units before finally deciding on this Sony. So far, I am extremely happy with my purchase. I bought the package on Amazon that came with this HU + the matchin Sony backup camera, and its fantastic.

The first thing I wanted to comment on is the interface. Of course this is an item of personal preference - but I find alot of the competing head units have interfaces aimed at 13 year old kids. Ive been a garmin user for 5 years, and really love the Garmin GPS system, so naturally one of the first HU's i looked at was the Kenwood lineup. To me, Kenwoods interface looks like it was designed to appeal to 15 year old boys, and not at all an even slightly mature audience (for the record, I'm in my early thirties).

This unit allows you to play directly from a USB Flash drive - which many units do, but its still pretty awesome. I have had it for three weeks now and still havent put a disc in it. Why would I? I loaded a couple gigs of music onto a spare 8gb flash key I had lying around, and it works perfectly. FWIW, the manual states only a small list of officially "supported" flash drives, but I have used two non supported drives without any problems. When you first plug the drive in, there is a bit of a delay until you can select the album / folder you'd like to listen to (only the first time) but once that completes, browing / navigating the flash drive is quite quick and works really well. Mine did come with the iPod cable as well, but so far I havent had a need for it.

The included TomTom navigation is a huge improvement over a several-years-old TomTom One that I was given from my employer. If I would have known the TomTom interface had improved this much I would have never looked at the Kenwood / Garmin units. One caveat that kind of peeved me off - NO TomTom live! services are available in Canada. Not a huge deal, except this wasnt advertised anywhere when I bought the unit. It wouldnt have been a deal breaker by any means, but I was really looking forward to the Google search feature, which apparently only works if you have TomTom live.

I had the optional Sony backup camera thrown in as part of the deal as well, and its awesome. I always thought of backup cameras as a bit of a novelty item, until I got my truck. Its a full size RAM crew cab, and I live / work in a fair sized city, so parking spots are usually tight. The backup camera has made parking the vehicle so much easier that its amazing. The HU has adjustable marker lines on it allowing you to set three different markers on the screen when the backup camera is enabled. I mention they are adjustable, as this allowed me to lay a tape measure down behind the truck and put the markers exactly at 1, 3, and 5 feet from the bumper. Its pretty sweet being able to pull within 1 foot of a car behind me in the parking lot at first try. As I said, parking a truck this size in the city is a bit of a chore sometimes, but the backup camera makes it almost painless.

Overall I am very happy with this head unit and would recomend it to anyone. It has tonnes of power, great sound, a great radio, plays from all kinds of sources, and a clean interface. Highly recommended!
66 comments| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon December 12, 2010
Package Type: Standard Packaging|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have very mixed feelings about this Sony indash GPS/Bluetooth phone/audio receiver unit. The individual components are very nice, most of them work really well, but they do not work well together as a unit and it is really difficult to use while driving. To read "vol" on this unit, one has to use a magnifying lens. Volume up and volume down arrows are tiny (see pictures).

While using the GPS, you can have an extra window to access the A/V source but it does not give you the play/pause button in the window. You have to go through two screens before reaching play/pause button. Time is another thing that you look frequently in the car, and while using the GPS, time is not visible. Otherwise it is visible in a tiny font at the bottom of the A/V screens.

GPS: TomTom maps are very nice, it is easy to program the destination, you can store home and other frequently used destinations. Points of interest are also available. The GPS model can be taken out, connected to a computer through USB port, and the maps can be updated. Four updates in the first year are included in the cost of the unit. But there is no traffic service, considering how expensive this unit is.

IPOD: audio, video, playlists, albums, artists, songs etc. can be browsed on the screen. It even has gestures, you can scroll the songs up and down by flicking the finger. The only flaw I found was that iPod keeps playing continuously unless you change the A/V source. Even if you pause the song, when you start the car next time, the song will start playing even if you have not pressed the play button.

OTHER A/V SOURCES: with a 3.5 mm audio cable, you can connect any audio source. With an RCA A/V composite cable, you can connect any video source.

BLUETOOTH AUDIO: if the source device has Bluetooth, like an android phone or iPod Touch, then you do not have to connect it with the cable. You can play the stored music over the Bluetooth connection without connecting with a cable. This is one of the best parts of this unit.

BLUETOOTH PHONE: it was easy to pair my droid phone and audio is very clear. Microphone is excellent and the other party does not hear an echo or distortion. Although you can download the phone book, up to 300 contacts, the scroll function in phonebook is very slow, almost unusable. Gestures and finger flicking does not work here. I could not click on any of my contacts to add to, one of the six speed dials. It might work if you have a really small phone book.

SCREEN: Can be washed out in bright sunlight.

USEFUL ACCESSORIES

1. REARVIEW CAMERA: the unit does not come with a rearview camera, but you can buy one and attach it to this unit. It works well, the camera goes on as soon as you change the gear to reverse. Instead of Sony, I used Alpine HCE-C105 Rear View Camera.

2. ONSTAR MODULE: If your car has General Motors OnStar, then you will need an extra unit to make sure that your OnStar keeps working after you install the unit. My car needed Axxess GMOS-LAN-04 LAN OnStar Interface for Amplified Systems.

3. STEERING WHEEL INTERFACE: If you want the steering wheel audio controls to work, you will need another steering the interface unit PAC SWI-PS Sony and Pioneer Steering Wheel Radio Control Interface but the Bluetooth phone steering wheel controls do not work with that unit.

It comes with a CD, containing software called SenseMe, which is supposed to analyze your music and choose the songs depending upon your mood: energetic, sad, slow, fast etc. but I could not get the software to work with either my Droid phone, or iPod Nano, or iPod Touch or USB disk drive. The software is very buggy, does not work.

In the end, I feel this unit is like a Femme Fatale - beautiful & seductive in a stationary car or from the passenger seat but is it going to be safe when you are fuddling with controls or going through several screens to pause/play driving at 60 miles an hour?

Safety, isn't that the paramount consideration in a driving machine?
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1313 comments| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 28, 2011
I won't go into too much detail because there are several people on here that have given awesome reviews. I did a lot of research before I bought this unit and I had high hopes, but the GPS functionality is literally worthless. The TOM TOM can go for days without ever picking up a 'valid GPS signal'. My girlfriend borrowed my car on Saturday and 4 days later (after driving the car every day for at least 90 minutes), the GPS map is still stuck on her work location. I've tried resetting and updating the unit multiple times and it is still completely unreliable. I don't need directions that often, but when I do, it never works and the only thing I ever see is 'Waiting for a valid GPS signal'. It is so frustrating to spend over $700 and not have a completely functional system. To be fair, everything else on the Sony unit works, but that's not enough for me to recommend this product, and for that reason, I can only give it a one star review.

Update: I'm going to increase my rating to two stars - I hesitate to do this because I am still very upset about the Tom Tom Navigation - but I'm happy with the rest of the unit. Bottom line, the GPS unit is crap. It needs to be updated constantly. If you update it on a weekly basis, which I've started to do, it will work most of the time. Of course, there are still days where I don't get a signal for 10 minutes or so, but eventually it kicks in (this is based on the last few weeks only). But what a pain in the @ss. I guess I was just spoiled with my Garmin Nuvi. I had that unit for more than a year, and was NEVER REQUIRED to update it. If an optional update was given and you decided not to take it, the Nuvi STILL worked. Imagine that. Unlike the TOM TOM, which just stops working. Dead. Nothing.
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on June 7, 2011
I bought this item to replace the standard AM/FM unit in my car. I opted for this head unit based on my prior experience with Sony, the reviews, and the TomTom navigation. It worked fantastic, I love the navi, it sounds great, couldn't be happier... for the first 2 months. Now it has trouble finding the satellites, even on a COMPLETELY CLOUDLESS Alabama day. It will occasionally show my position, when I turn the car on, then display that position for the next hour or so, then update my position to show for then next couple hours. It's great if you want to know what your starting position was, or like to see some random position during your trip.

I've made sure the antenna is located on the dash with an unobstructed view of the sky. The unit shows that is has located 5 or 6 satellites, but I guess that's not enough!

Of course, it starts this behavior just after the Amazon return period ends, so now I'm stuck having to send it to Sony for who knows how long to [hopefully] get it fixed. It started having touble locating intermittently, but kept having more and more trouble until now it's pretty worthless.

Even had trouble with the stereo side of the unit. It keeps "losing" the connected iPod, starts back at the first songs (not always, just enough to be annoying), and doesn't seem to charge the iPod (even with the supplied connector).

When I purchased my new car, I couldn't find a vehicle within 500 miles with the factory navi AND the options I wanted, so I opted for the options and figured I could install this unit and be way ahead... But now I'm sorry I didn't go to the dealer parts department and purchase the "factory" unit for $1200 instead of buying this one.

I may just cut my losses and sell this unit on Craigs List and buy the factory unit anyway.

Maybe I just got a lemon, who knows. Sure sucks though.

REVISED 6/26/11:
I decided to take the navigation unit out and update it again. I'd done this several times before, but not since it started locking up.

When I connected the unit to my laptop, it said there was a critical update to load. After loading the update, the unit started working again, and has for the past week. I guess the previous update must have done something that didn't agree with the unit. As long as the navigation continues to work correctly, I love this unit.

I like the functions of the head unit, and absolutely love the way the TomTom navigation works and looks.

My wife doesn't like the fact that there isn't an "off" feature. The only way we can turn it "off" is to set it to a non-existing input source and then turn the screen off.

Also, the unit isn't so much starting at the beginning of the iPod, it seems that if you set it to play say an album or single artist, when it's done it begins at the beginning of all the songs rather than simply going to the next album or artist. It does still seem to do this after starting the car after sitting for a while, but this may be something with the iPod not the Sony.
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on December 8, 2011
Everything works great... besides the TomTom Navigation. Everyday the navigation unit will lose the GPS signal until you reset the unit. Here are a lot of other users complaining as well. Read the complaints on the TomTom forum.

[...]
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on December 14, 2012
Package Type: Standard Packaging|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Most of the reviews have said it all. This unit is very overpriced and crippled by lack of support. I've had issues with an unresponsive touchscreen (appears to be random). Switching radio stations takes several presses of menu buttons which is ridiculous! The HD radio constantly cuts in and out depending on where I'm driving (I'm 30 miles outside of Chicago). So half the time my stations are in HD, and the other half they are switching back and forth from HD to standard, so it cuts in and out constantly. You cannot listen to music when it cuts in and out!!

As everyone else has mentioned, the navigation is ATROCIOUS. The thing is, I don't think Tom-Tom gives a hoot. Their customer service is located in Mexico, and they literally read off a script every time you call. You only get map updates for the first year, then you have to pay $75/year for updates. That is RIDICULOUS, considering anyone with an android smartphone can use Google maps and navigation for FREE. If I'm paying for a service, I expect it to excel in every way to a free version. But this Tom Tom navigation pales in comparison to Google Maps. It's not intuitive, not accurate, and takes forever to get a GPS signal. Half the time it times out and I get no signal.

The sound quality from the Sony unit is excellent, and the inputs/outputs offer a lot of options. But overall, I cannot recommend this unit. For the price, you can do FAR better.
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