NAT­U­RAL ABIL­ITY.

InCar Entertainment  - - AUDITION -

Given that Philips launched the Com­pact Disc in part­ner­ship with Sony, and the DVD along­side Sony, Pana­sonic and Toshiba, you might con­sider the com­pany to have a good in­sight into what an in-ve­hi­cle Mul­ti­me­dia Head Unit should be. Over the years, of course, the Philips brand has be­come spread across mul­ti­ple own­ers — its TVs to­day come from TP Vi­sion, for ex­am­ple, while the Philips record la­bel is part of Un­ver­sal Mu­sic.

The incar au­dio di­vi­sion is, with the rest of Philips au­dio, part of Gib­son In­no­va­tions (for­merly WOOX), and the level of qual­ity achieved is ev­i­dent from the mo­ment you un­pack the Philips CED1910BT. It’s a nicely sim­ple de­sign, with a clean and el­e­gant fas­cia dom­i­nated by a 6.2-inch WVGA-res­o­lu­tion dis­play (800 x 480 pix­els), which dou­bles as a touch panel. There’s no flip-down/flip-up ac­tion on the fas­cia; Philips has cho­sen a fixed fas­cia with the CD slot lo­cated above the screen. Given the com­mon con­nec­tions at the rear of the unit, and slots ei­ther side of the fas­cia for SD card and USB, there’s no real need for the screen to move; there’s still plenty of space for con­trol but­tons ver­ti­cally on both sides. Like we said, neat and clean. A com­pre­hen­sive lit­tle re­mote con­trol is in­cluded, of the credit-card type. It pro­vides the most com­monly used func­tions and op­er­ates in­stantly and eas­ily.

The com­plete pack­age con­tains al­most ev­ery­thing needed for in­stall, along with com­pre­hen­sive op­er­at­ing and in­stal­la­tion in­struc­tions which are, un­usu­ally, supplied in a printed man­ual — re­fresh­ing in th­ese days when we so of­ten have to re­fer to a disc or a down­load. A printed man­ual is a lot easy when you’re get­ting down and dirty be­hind the dash!

MULTIFORMAT EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

In ad­di­tion to stan­dard CDs and DVDs, the disc drive here can also han­dle discs of MP3s, and can play DivX and DivXVOD for­mats too (don’t be play­ing video when your ve­hi­cle is mov­ing,

of course!). You can load MP3s onto a USB stick if you like, or plug in your smart de­vice to charge and play.

Many will pre­fer to use the Blue­tooth con­nec­tio, and the CED1910BT paired quickly and eas­ily with an iPhone 5 and even with a mod­er­ately el­derly iPod used in th­ese tests. Changing be­tween the Blue­tooth sources was in­stant, along with re­con­nec­tion when re­turn­ing from out of range, some­thing that many units don’t do so well. The Philips recog­nised when a pre­vi­ously paired de­vice came back into range and im­me­di­ately locked onto the sig­nal. Blue­tooth range proved an ex­cel­lent eight me­tres, if not more.

There’s a rear lead for video camera in­put, and video out­puts for rear screens, along with re­vers­ing camera, ex­ter­nal mi­cro­phone and GPS an­tenna. A full set of line-out con­nec­tions means ex­ter­nal am­pli­fiers and ac­tive subs for sys­tem ex­ten­sion are all catered for.

Smart-phone con­nec­tions al­low integration with your phone book, along with call an­swer­ing and di­alling via the touch-screen. In­ci­den­tally, the touch­screen it­self is one of the more re­spon­sive of­fer­ings I’ve come across — sen­si­tive with­out be­ing overly so, plus the app icons are large and leg­i­ble and the op­er­a­tion is ‘def­i­nite’. Where some brands seem to have a very wide touch area for each app, which can lead to hit­ting the wrong icon at times from the driv­ing po­si­tion, not so the CED1910BT, where the screen op­er­a­tions weree a plea­sure to use. Nav­i­ga­tion is avail­able via a Map Data card that must be pur­chased sep­a­rately (see the price dif­fer­ences) and in­serted in a slot in the front to ini­tialise the Nav­i­ga­tion fea­ture. LIS­TEN TO THE MU­SIC The Philips CED1910BT of­fers the user the op­tion of eight pre-set equaliser op­tions for tai­lor­ing the sound, or the play­back can be tuned by the user via on-screen ad­just­ments for Bass, Mid­dle and Tre­ble, as well as level con­trols for in­di­vid­ual sec­tors of the ve­hi­cle. Philips Zone Tech­nol­ogy means lis­ten­ing lev­els can be ad­justed to suit driver or pas­sen­ger ar­eas as re­quired.

At first lis­ten, the Philips seemed a lit­tle flat-sound­ing — noth­ing drew par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion as de­fi­cient, but the ‘wow’ fac­tor was some­what ab­sent, so that Go­ril­laz’

Feel Good Inc emerged nice enough, but not as im­me­di­ately invit­ing as some units around this price. But this proved one of those sys­tems which, in fact, does it right for longer-term lis­ten­ing. Once some time had been spent with the sys­tem, it be­came clear that the CED1910BT is one of those rare au­dio de­vices that re­pro­duces a nat­u­ral sound — noth­ing over-em­pha­sised, and noth­ing miss­ing ei­ther. For a re­viewer fac­ing mul­ti­ple sound sys­tems, or for a con­sumer au­di­tion­ing sev­eral sys­tems, it can be easy to ne­glect the value of this kind of sound bal­ance. Don’t skip over it. Longterm lis­ten­ing is re­warded with the re­al­i­sa­tion that a lot of at­ten­tion has been paid to the qual­ity of the sound here. Nat­u­ral­ness is the or­der of the day. Rhythm and pace are im­por­tant in any mu­si­cal event and are of­ten blurred or miss­ing in the mo­tor ve­hi­cle en­vi­ron­ment. Not so here!

A great ex­am­ple to demon­strate this ex­actly was Green Day’s 2017 al­bum ‘Revo­lu­tion Ra­dio’. Track 2, Bang Bang, fea­tures some heavy drum work by Tre Cool, and many sys­tems re­duce this to a ‘one note’ rumble. The CED1910BT had enough sheer punch and def­i­ni­tion to al­low the lis­tener to hear ex­actly what was go­ing on, re­tain­ing the pace and tim­ing to get the most out of this track. While it might sound laid-back, noth­ing was dulled­down, ev­ery­thing was in its cor­rect place, com­pletely bal­anced and nat­u­ral. You’ll thank your­self for se­lect­ing such a sound bal­ance over truly longterm, en­joy­able lis­ten­ing.

In­deed I rarely found it nec­es­sary to en­gage the var­i­ous ad­di­tional sound op­tions — the Philips sports Max Sound Boost and Dy­namic Bass Boost, but as is of­ten the case, play­ing tunes cleanly was, well, cleaner. CD was a clear win­ner in terms of clar­ity and ar­tic­u­la­tion over iPhone and iPod via Blue­tooth — it’s worth not­ing that the Blue­tooth is limited to Philips’ own SBC codec, with­out the higher AAC or li­censed aptX codecs, so a di­rect con­nec­tion of your de­vice via USB may de­liver the best sound, along with all the con­ve­nience and speed of dig­i­tal stor­age me­dia. AND IN THE END The Philips CED1910BT is clearly a ma­ture prod­uct in a mar­ket seg­ment striv­ing to of­fer some­thing new to dif­fer­en­ti­ate each model from the next. It has all the con­ve­nience and con­nec­tiv­ity, and most of the bells and whis­tles to com­pete, in­clud­ing nav­i­ga­tion as an op­tion (see pric­ing for the ex­tra). But I found th­ese fea­tures were not what made it stand out from the crowd — af­ter spend­ing time with the Philips, it was the unit’s abil­ity to sim­ply ‘get out of the way’ and not draw at­ten­tion to it­self, leav­ing the lis­tener to en­joy the mu­sic. That’s the thing we liked most about the CED1910BT.

Thetouch-screen­leadsy­outhroughtheCED1910BT’s many abil­i­ties with in­tu­itive menus and prompts.

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