Pros: For the price, everything you need is included and works!
Cons: The Ipod control is a little clunky. The TV antenna could be better.
First, a little background.
This is my 3rd, third, mobile in-dash DVD player head unit. The first, my Kenwood Excelon KVT-910 was an excellent unit, but cost about $2000 at the time and was stolen after about 6 months.
Not yet learning my lesson, I bought a Clarion VRX925VD for about $1800. This was also an excellent head unit, though it didn't have a TV Tuner included. I also tinted my windows and put in a top of the line car alarm system to add to the security of the removable face that the Clarion had and the Kenwood didn't.
The Clarion lasted about 5 years, then the brain unit went bad. In this time, I researched and saw that DVD head units could be had, fully loaded, for 1/3 the price of the Clarion. In just 5 years! Yikes. The only caveat is that the head unit companies aren't well known and you take your chances on the quality.
I did my research and decided to take a chance with the Valor ITS-710WT. This is going to get long, so if you don't want to read any further, I'll tell you now. It is well worth the money. Buy it.
Still reading? Moving along...
I wanted a head unit that had DVD (obviously), a TV Tuner, IPOD control, touch screen control, a removable faceplate, and bluetooth would be an added bonus. Those were my main criteria. For many of the DVD decks out there, the Tuner isn't included. For others, the Ipod control isn't included. They are add-ons.
I decided on the Valor ITS-710WT because it had almost all of the above, PLUS an SD card reader, for $630 delivered. It does not have a detachable face. The plus side is, nobody is going to steal a Valor. :+) This was 1/3 what I paid for my Clarion with more functionality.
On to specifics.
Unlike other DVD in-dash units, this unit does not have a hideaway brain. That's good and bad. Good that you don't have to tear up more of your car to run the wires out of site to under your seat. BAD that all of the wires are behind the dashboard. I forgot to run a breakout wire to use the video-in. So that lead is still behind the unit. If I ever wanted to hook up an Xbox 360, PS3, et. al. I'd need to remove the entire head unit instead of just hooking it to the brain under my seat.
So when you do install it, remember to "break out" somehow all the wires you are planning on using outside of the dash. Ipod, Video-In, Video-out(for backseat monitors) and whatnot.
Another oddity was that Valor didn't give me enough length to run from my back window, where the TV antenna is, to the head unit. Luckily it is coax, so I just patched in about 3-feet of coax. If there were a brain unit under my seat, it would have reached with no problem. And I drive a Camry! If this were installed in an SUV, there is absolutely no way it would reach.
One last install note. Like the Kenwood and Clarion, the Valor is SIMPLE TO BYPASS THE PARKING BREAK! Just ground it. The only catch is that there are actually TWO different "parking break wires" that need to be grounded together in order to be able to watch TV while you drive.
This is unlike folks that decide to buy Jensen and others that have to put a relay in, or a toggle switch, or some other hooey. Just ground the brake wires on the Valor and you are watching TV from the get go.
Overall, this unit does everything pretty well. The picture is very nice. I have never played a DVD, nor CD in it. Everything I have thrown at it has been DVD-R or CDR. No problems at all with either format. I have not tried DVD+R or any RW. The DVD's are quite nice. I only have it hooked up through my Camry's speakers. The DVD's are quite loud.
As a matter of fact, the included amplifier is quite loud. I had my Clarion running through this exact setup and I'd have to max it out in order to watch DVD's, and actually hear them. (Except the music of course.) With the Valor, I watch DVD's at almost 1/2 of it's output. It is nowhere near maxed and would likely blow my speakers if I tried. Nice.
So far, I have liked most everything about the Valor. The Bluetooth works pretty well with my Razr. Though, folks on the other end can hear me, they often say it sounds like I am in a tunnel. The SD card played a slideshow of the pictures on it just fine.
And now I will state some dislikes. Let me tell you right off, they are quite minor. I just don't want you to buy the unit and say, "Wow is this a pain" without knowing about it first.
The reception with the TV Antenna isn't very good. With my Kenwood, it had dual antennas you put on the back window and it'd triangulate pretty well while you drove around. With the Valor, it is only a single antenna. While driving, the picture pretty much stinks. Although, I've only tried it driving around downtown, with lots of buildings etc. Next time I'm out on the highway for a trip, in one direction, I'll have to remember to see if it's any better.
Of course, while parked and stationary, a lot of the channels are quite good. The moral? Don't drive and watch TV... Watch DVD's instead. :+)
Lastly, the Ipod controls are clunky. There I said it. And I'm not happy about it. But what can you do at this price?
I have a 60GB Ipod that has about 5000 songs on it. For the most part I use shuffle play. The Valor won't let you do that. Thankfully, I found a workaround. I created a Playlist in Itunes that I called "Valor" and just copied all of my songs to that list. So now I can go into playlist via the touchscreen, select "Valor" then hit the shuffle button.
This is unlike the actual Ipod, that to what I can figure out, you can't use shuffle play while on a playlist. So this is kind of cool. You can use shuffle through the Valor on basically anything. Genres, artists, playlists etc. An easy workaround.
The downfall of the Valor's controls, and why I call it clunky, is that there is no quick way to do anything.
If you want to look up a specific song, you can take a guess at the number (for me, between 1-5000) as all songs are alphabetical. That's fine. You just type the number into the remote and can scroll from there if you are close.
Where it doesn't work is on albums or artists. If I want to listen to a specific album, as I have 400 or so on there, I need to scroll to it. And the scroll is on the touch screen. And it only scrolls 6 at a time. And if you have to actually DRIVE while doing it, you are going to mis-click, or time-out, and have to start again from the A's. And even when you get to your correct album and manage to click on it in the alotted, SHORT, time-frame, sometimes the cursor "wasn't actually" following where it said it was on the screen and when you click, it is actually clicking the first album. Ugh.
This gets worse if you want to listen to a particular artist. I have over 800 artists. If I want to listen to my collection of Metallica, in the M's, that is a TON of scrolling, misclicking, and misadventure waiting to happen.
The touchscreen isn't always the most responsive for the Ipod and loves to time out and go back to the track screen that is playing.
Obviously, the best way to do this is to make a playlist of all of your most listened to artists songs. That way you can only scroll through a few playlists instead of 100's of artists. But sometimes you don't know what you want to listen to until you are in the car. So you need to scroll.
This is my only complaint about it. That it is a little clunky. The unit DOES charge your Ipod while you drive, and it does sound quite good. And there are a few workarounds for the most annoying things. And you CAN shuffle within a playlist which I don't believe you can actually do on the Ipod. I haven't really researched it, but if you can, it's not totally obvious.
Anyway, that's my review. I have had the unit installed for 2 months. It has worked pretty darn well in those two months, and quite frankly, I'm impressed.