Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems

The Valor ITS-301D DVD/CD/MP3/MP4/etc car head unit Reviews

Posted by Admin • Tuesday, September 8. 2009 • Category: Reviews

I recently bought a truck to replace the conversion van as a tow vehicle, and decided not to move the Innovatek head unit from the van to save myself some hassle. This gave me an opportunity to try out a new device as I was somewhat frustrated with the Innovatek (see review). I was looking for basically the same exact thing, but one that worked, well, better. Oh and of course having a TV tuner is no longer of any value.

I can spoil the suspense by saying that the Valor ITS-301D proved to be an improvement and I have only positive things to say about it. Some details:

Features and Evaluations

Primary Criteria

I was looking for a radio that would do the following for me (in order of importance):
  • Rear View Camera, for towing. Ideally without having to mount a huge monitor somewhere.
    This was a great solution, the display is very clear and my cheap ebay rear-view cam works great. The radio has the usual +12V trigger input designed for the reverse lights, but I usually just run the power-antenna output through a small dash-mounted switch so that I can have the rear-view cam on when I drive if I so choose. Note: when in rear-view camera mode, volume control and some other controls do not operate, however the mute button works.
  • MP3 playback (I don't care from what media), for occasional music.
    This unit plays MP3's very well, quickly changing tracks, showing most ID3 tag contents, and even allowing you to skip a bunch of tracks at once (actually song/track navigation is pretty advanced, including the ability to jump to an arbitrary song position like 05:32, and to loop playback of any section). Screen real estate is not optimally utilized, but I can see why they laid it out this way. Remote is not mandatory for general usage, though makes certain tasks easier.
  • Radio (FM/AM) mostly for traffic and general info in case world war 3 begins and I don't notice.
    Seems to work, has presets, the usual
  • Line-in or input of some sort for other devices.
    Let's see:
    1. Rear line-in (not front panel).
    2. A2DP line-in (bluetooth).
    3. IPod/IPhone line-in.
    4. SD card slot.
    I think we're doing pretty well on this one.

Extras

This unit of course has a few more options I didn't look for but aren't a problem:
  • DVD playback.
    I guess I may one day have use for this, though probably not on the tiny 3" screen
  • Bluetooth: Hey, why not?
    As it turned out, this works quite well, pairs eagerly (Blackberry 8830) and the included external mic makes conversations actually possible. The mic, by the way, looks like a lapel mic, though I assume it is meant to clip to the visor or thereabout. The radio connects to my phone instantly as soon as I enable bluetooth on my phone (I normally keep it off). Bluetooth pairing password: "8888" (had to open the manual for that)
  • A2DP for playing music off the phone... weird... but it works...
    You can control/start playback from your phone's media player, or from the radio's remote.
  • IPod connector.
    I thought this was pretty useless actually considering they don't list any IPhones as compatible, but it worked just fine for the IPhone 3G (OS 3.0). Not only can it play music from the IPhone, showing you the Ipod-like music interface on the radio, but it also charges the IPhone, and now my wife doesn't need to bring her adapter. Only weird thing is that the cord is permanently attached to the back of the radio, not removable.
  • SD Card MP3 playback
    Haven't tried this yet, but the face has to come off to insert the card. I'll have to see if it's SDHC compatible as it doesn't seem to say so anywhere

The good

As mentioned above, it does most things quite well.
  • MP3 playback is pleasant and reasonably quick, ID3 support, no weird incompatibility issues with certain tracks on disc
  • Controls are usable and not cryptic. You can use the radio without a magnifying glass or having to first memorize the owners manual (In fact I only opened mine to discover the bluetooth pairing password)
  • Remote is actually not bad. Buttons are dimples and the radio responds quickly to keypresses (oh what a relief after the Inovatek!).

The bad

  • CD Audio and MP3 track changes have up to 1sec pauses. Not a big deal to me
  • Disc load time is considerable (10-15 seconds?) but not ridiculous. This is true for CD Audio and MP3 CD's
  • Plugging in the IPhone/Ipod causes it to switch to IPod mode, interrupting current playback. This is probably a feature but for me it's not useful as I use it to charge the iphone. Maybe there is a setting for that, though I haven't seen it
  • Starting the car (and my truck is not free of electrical weirdness) sometimes causes it to bluescreen... no, make it whitescreen. Seems to happen when voltage dips severely during cranking. After this happens the unit still works but displays nothing but a white screen, until you pop the face off and back on


I guess that's all there is to be said. I like the radio, and I paid only $140 at Crutchfield.

0 Trackbacks

  1. No Trackbacks

2 Comments

Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
  1. If you see the name VALOR on anything, run away. I could go on for hours, but I've had 4 Valor units, and every one has failed. Even the 301 that the above reviewer seems to like. I'd like to ask how he did a simple task like set the clock without the manual. Hint... you need the remote to do it... no other way.

    STAY AWAY FROM VALOR unless you have money to throw away.

    --Mike
  2. Actuallually if you hold the LOC button under the seek button you can set the clock with the seek and volume buttons and to keep it set press the ok button to save. Every month or two it needs to be reset, i think that every time the car starts it pauses a second or two to lose the time, i usually set it 5 minutes ahead and 3 months later or so i reset it. I found a 20 off coupon and got this for 120.00;a good deal for all of its features. Bluetooth is the killer on this unit! All other features seem to be half ***ed! I dont use radio, cd, or mp3, or the SD card. I have Sirius thru the antenna with the sirius adapter works great! It is ideal for my use. The face fell off when i went over a speed bump and I had to rip off the metal thing under it that would allow the faceplate to detatch; I then used a small 3m double side tape to keep it on now the SD slot is unaccessable but i dont use it anyway. It worked pretty good when i used it a few times but i dont need it. So now the detatchable face is not an option. Its now 3yrs old and still kicking! I cant get a good FM signal but then again I dont care because i dont use it. The DVD player does what its supposed to and it plays DVDs nothing special; but great for our long trips from Orlando to New Orleans! So far the worst option is the Ipod line. You can view the playlists and it works fine; the bad part is every time you turn off the car it starts from the beginning screen and does not continue in the same song or even the playlist you have to scroll through the very beginning every time! Even if you accidentally hit the fm button once you go back you have to search from the top and scroll each time with the circle knob. This would be okay if you only keep one album at a time on it it wouldnt be as annoying but if you have thousands of songs its dumb and multiple playlists; I believe their is no random button either or shuffle, or even a repeat but I cant remember. So i just use my iphone with the bluetooth and im good, I can stream my Rhapsody and youtube, and even the ipod option! I just found out once its paired put it in the bluetooth mode and press play on the remote it syncs up and if you press it twice it goes to the iphones voice section but I havent had too much luck with that iphone voice command. for a year I have been going through the settings/general/bluetooth bull now i can quicly sync!

Add Comment


You can use [geshi lang=lang_name [,ln={y|n}]][/geshi] tags to embed source code snippets.
Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

What is the primary language of this blog? (Anti-SPAM question)


Submitted comments will be subject to moderation before being displayed.