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Caliber RDD401BT

Product Details
Manufacturer: Caliber
Distributor: Celsus Ice
Website: http://www.celsusice.co.uk
Typical Selling price: £299.99

DVD/CD/USB/SD player with AM/FM radio tuner and Bluetooth. The chassis is single DIN size but the face of the unit looks to be just under one and a half DIN. This means there is room on the front for a far bigger screen of much better aspect ratio than has been cunningly squeezed onto other, single DIN units. There is an AV input on 3.5mm microjack on the front drop, below a USB socket. The unit will read up to 4GB SD cards of the newer SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards. It comes with an external wired microphone and will cope with AVRCP streaming on Bluetooth as well as the A2DP form. (allegedly, as I failed and the manual has nada about this in it!)

It has two sets of RCA outputs and two composite video outputs and also boasts a whopping 4 x75w on-board amplifier, which is as big as I have ever heard. It comes with a 44-button remote control and the fascia is motorised and removable.

- 4 x 75w
- 4.3 inch TFT LCD removeable touch screen panel c/w hard carry case
- USB front socket
- 2 RCA Video Out
- 2 RCA Audio Out
- 1 RCA Video Input for Rear View Camera
- DVD Video, DVD-R, VCD, CD, CD-R, MPEG 4 video files (.mpg) & JPEG file (.jpg); WMA; MP3 with ID-3 tags
- 3.5mm AV input jack plus second rear audio RCA aux in and video input
- SD Card reader (up to 4GB SDHC)
- Bluetooth hands free with included microphone
- AVRCP & A2DP Audio Streaming
- 18FM/12AM Radio Presets on RDS tuner
- Motorised & Detachable front panel
- 44-Button remote control supplied

Editor Review : Caliber RDD401BT

This is one hell of a lot of kit in one box for the money. It was tested on a Genesis SM100 amplifier on one of the RCA outputs, with an Audio Visual output fed to the reference NESA overhead monitor screen attached to the test bench and the audio was fed to a set of Bowers & Wilkins LM1 speakers, proven to have great clarity.

I played some of the “Hot Import Nights” DVD given away some years back with Fast Car magazine and also hooked the tuner up to an FM aerial. Also, the new Verbatim micro USB product in whopping 8GB size was stuffed with various formats of music and frankly porn on MP4 (as this is in fact one of the Absolute Rules on InCar AV systems, I am afraid, like it or lump it…) as like pianoforte music, you can hear the overtones and harmonics of a piano and porn is perfect for skin tones, which is always revealing of perfect colour rendition.

First off, it has to be recognised that this is no high flying replacement for a grand’s worth or more of top end Nipponese electronics, nor is it a stripped-down IKEA of a product. Rather, it is a deeply competent and heavily loaded ‘budget’ unit that can do a hell of a lot.

The USB systems on head units are often asked to do silly things, like the software developer who wanted his headunit to eat a pile of music over 45GB on an HDD from Western Digital! I didn’t test it with that kind of challenge but it happily took around a half minute to read the USB stick (about the size of a small peanut, actually, the largest bit of the Verbatim USB stick is the actual connector) and then played me music on MP3 and also coped with the MP4 video. Oddly, it didn’t play back two files of video, despite displaying their titles, one was a dodgy one of filth, the other was a YouTube download of the Rubberbandits’ “I’ve a horse outside” which I recommend you Google. It was shown to me by reading a thread on Talk Audio. Funny as hell, but I digress…

Posh units on my rig are usually clean of sonic output at low levels into my amp and speakers but cheaper ones like this do tend to offer some transport and odd digital ‘graunching’ noises to the outputs on the test bench, as this did. Once the system is inside a car’s steel monocoque, this isn’t as big an issue but I reckon the unit will need careful installation.

The three-language manual is sketchy to put it politely and has great lumps missing, like how to stream music and I never managed to do that, despite being able to Bluetooth connect and call a very patient chum who then had to call me back and give me his treatise on how clear the call was on the system, which was good. Nice microphone.

The 4.3in 16:9 screen was remarkably crisp and has a really clean resolution. Admittedly, some of that is the shrunken-by-heat crisp packet effect as the video looked a bit grainy on my ‘known good’ overhead monitor test bench NESA screen.
I found that the 8GB USB stick was a bit of a challenge with a lot on it and also tried a smaller stick with just a couple of videos and jpegs on it. The zoom function is cool for getting a really close check of the crucial details in those skin flick videos but I hated the lack of ability to scroll through a video on USB. You can’t edit the highlights, you just set it going track by track. And the machine kept on refusing to read the stick at all, forcing me to load up the DVD or even eject and reload the DVD before changing source to get the unit to read the stick again. My advice would be to go with no more than 4GB on SD or USB and heaven forefend, actually have a few about your cubby-holes. After all, 4GB is a lot of data.

So, I had some issues with the GUI and also found the manual to have gaps, but that said, I was deeply impressed with the huge feature count and admit I didn’t plug in a rear view camera! I love the motorised and removable front panel and reckon that this super-duper Dutch designed product offers astonishing VFM for those who want an all singing, all dancing everything-AV unit but simply cannot justify the four figures that this feature count would cost from a big Japanese maker.

If you fancy it, I would get onto the guys at Celsus and make sure that you can take a USB stick or an SD card along (with material you CAN view in a public shop) and give the device your own pull through at a dealer’s and see if you get along with it. Yes, there are compromises but you do get one hell of a package for the money, as said, and I was dead impressed.

Overall 8.6
Sound Quality 7
Appearance/Display 9
Ease Of Use/HMI 7
Features 10
Value For Money 10