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Clarion NX404 - installed

Clarion NX404 — A multifunctional travel companion

Music, podcasts and navigation all in one
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4.5 stars
$265 to $353
  • 90%


Summary:

When I bought my 2003 Winnebago Adventurer used in 2014, the motorhome was equipped with a standard AM/FM radio and CD player. But who has CDs or listens to commercial radio anymore? So, I upgraded to a Clarion NX404 Multimedia Station with built in navigation offered by Mito Corporation. It was a very good move.

Talk about options. The device allows users to tune into AM/FM stations and play CDs, but it opens up a whole new bunch of options as well. For example, I can play music or listen to podcasts from my iPad via a Bluetooth connection, or enjoy satellite radio, as well. I could also play DVDs over the 6.2-inch touch-panel screen. It has built in connectivity for Pandora and iPod radio, however both require use of cell data, so I don't use it regularly. Entertainment options are bountiful, and it plays on the motorhome's surround sound speakers so that I can enjoy listening while driving or working at my desk.

It does have a built-in DVD player, but it is set up by default to disable play when the vehicle is on due to federal laws that prohibit movies and TV from being visible to a driver. That also means it impacts connected iPads because they have video-playing capability as well. However, the install technician can disable that function so that iPads can be connected and podcasts or music be retrieved from them.

There are multiple connection options, including USB, HDMI, and standard mini-port for headphones or, in my case, to attach the satellite radio receiver. Connecting devices via Bluetooth isn't difficult at all. Although if I had my iPod connected while driving, and then connected it to my Bose speaker in the bedroom, then I may have to disconnect, and reconnect the Bluetooth connection on the NX404 next time I use it.

The navigation system is a big plus for me because I was growing tired of my portable GPS system and trying to keep it from sliding off the dash or tipping over its holding device. The system allows users to find a specific address or tens of thousands of points of interest. Plugging in a new route is as easy as selecting the desired state, then city, then either street and house number, or select from one of 18 points of interest categories.

Those categories include accommodations, like hotels or campgrounds, parks, hospitals, gas stations, grocery stores, government buildings, restaurants, leisure activities and parking lots. Search options include looking for places in a specific city, along the planned route or "around here," wherever you may be traveling.

The one problem I had with trip planning is that the campground locations are wrong by almost 75 percent of the time, however, I have learned to slow down within a mile of my destination because the actual entrance will be within a mile before or beyond what it thinks it is. As you get close, you might verify the location on Google maps, but that isn't always a fail-safe method either because Google gets campground locations wrong more often than it's right. Entering specific addresses has worked every time.

Map updates are available for $65 and points of interest updates are $10; however, the data is stored in a super-tiny micro SD card that will require a special adapter to plug it into your computer in order to receive the updates.

The biggest annoyance for the navigation system is that whenever I deviate off the route to a gas station or even a rest area, the voice comes on with a sharp "re-recalculation" message. Not only is there no such word as "re-recalculation," it become annoying with its constant repeating as I maneuvered into a gas lane or a parking space. Also, when it alerts that the destination has been reached, it doesn't cancel the route and will continue guiding you back to the entrance until the route is manually canceled.

The voice volume can be regulated so that you can hear it above whatever else you might be listening. There are five language options, but no voice options, such as male or female. It's all female. The NX404 can be set up to show a backup camera, and connect to a Bluetooth-enabled phone to make and receive calls.

The device was provided to me for evaluation purposes, but it cost $515 to have an RV dealership install it. However, the dealership I visited did not sell electronic devices, so I suspect there was a big learning curve for the technician and it took more time than normal. The NX404 can be programmed to play in two zones, front of motorhome or back, but that required more setup costs than I was willing to absorb. It does come with a handy remote control to turn it off or adjust volume.

Having the Clarian NX404 was a welcome addition to the motorhome's tech toys. It makes travel days pass so much faster when I can listen to a podcast, or radio station, news station (through SiriusXM) or just one of my iPad music playlists -- as the device guides me to my destination.

Clarion NX404 - Find an address Clarion NX404 - map screen Clarion NX404 - play options 2 Clarion NX404 - play options Clarion NX404 - route planning

Pros

  • Works with multiple input options. I have satellite radio in the miniport and iPad via Bluetooth
  • Sound quality is excellent
  • Connects to motorhomes speaker system for sound throughout living area
  • Can be set up for two-zone use
  • Multiple settings options to configure sound and maps to user satisfaction
  • Five language options
  • Built-in DVD can connect via HDTV wire to bigger television to serve as DVD player
  • Color touch screen
  • Toggle button to switch between navigation and all other functions
  • Navigation voice commands can be set to play over anything else being listened to
  • Attach a satellite radio antenna or use built-in AM/FM receiver
  • Can connect a USB port to connect other devices
  • Remote control allows device to be controlled anywhere in the RV
  • Vast selection of points of interest to help in trip planning

Cons

  • Not able to connect to Internet, which would enable easier updates or connecting to Google Maps.
  • Upgrades are costly at $65 for the map and $9.95 for the points of interest database
  • Upgrades require a special SD card adapter
  • Campground entrance locations are usually off by a mile before or after stated location
  • Installation is pricey, unless performed by a technician experienced in such installation

About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is the editor of Let's RV and the editor of RV Daily Report. A Wisconsin native and father of three grown daughters, he is now based out of Arizona and travels the country in his Winnebago Adventurer motorhome interviewing industry professionals and interesting RVers alike. He can be reached at editor@letsrv.com

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