Harman Kardon Drive + Play
- Interface, Sound quality, Multiple connection options, Convenience
- Installation, Some issues with control knob
If you want to play your iPod in the car, this is by far the best option on the market. It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest you’ll get and the integration and sound quality is excellent.
Price$ 299.95 (AUD)
The Harman Kardon Drive + Play is an excellent device that allows you to control and listen to your iPod in the car. Although it's not without its faults, it does a very good job of emulating the controls and display of your iPod - and best of all it sounds excellent.
The Drive + Play is a three-piece unit: an LCD screen, a control knob and an electronics enclosure box. It is recommended that a professional car audio technician install this product, as there is plenty of wiring involved. Expect to pay anywhere between $100 and $200, depending on the make of your vehicle and the method of installation. The Drive + Play can be powered in two ways, either through your vehicles standard 12 volt power or via a 12 volt accessory power cable (cigarette lighter adapter). Installation can be a little tricky and time consuming, so it's best left to the professionals.
If you choose to install the Drive + Play yourself, Harman Kardon offers three different installation methods - via Auxiliary input jack, CD changer connector (using an optional adapter) or through the unit's built-in FM transmitter. The audio quality of the latter isn't as reliable as directly connecting to your car head unit. We were fortunate to have a car stereo with a rear auxiliary input but if you don't have this option, you'll have to purchase a CD changer connector or use the built-in FM transmission. Alternatively, you can also wire your car antenna into the Drive + Play, and then plug it into the antenna port at the back of your head unit. This is a better option than using the built in FM transmitter, since it uses the built-in antenna and you will receive less FM interference.
The enclosure box should be mounted out of sight - ours was tucked away behind the stereo deck. From this, the three metre cable connecting your iPod to the Drive + Play is routed to a convenient place in your car. Ours was installed to a small compartment underneath the steering wheel, but it can go to a glove box, ashtray or accessories console should you wish.
Performance and Features
The Drive + Play interface is very similar to the iPod's, with menus for FM Settings, Now Playing, Playlists, Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres, Composers, Settings and Songs. You can customise this to your liking by removing any of these from the main menu screen. The display is monochrome but it has a bright, adjustable white backlight so it's very easy to read, even at night. Its optimum position is on top of the dashboard so you don't have to take your eyes off the road to change your tunes. Furthermore, the screens base can be swiveled and adjusted to a number of positions. Although the screen works well, we would have been delighted with a colour display - just like the iPod itself.
Although Harman Kardon has done a relatively good job with the Drive + Play controls, there is still room for improvement. It's not as responsive as a regular iPod and the biggest downfall is speed - it just doesn't scroll as quickly as we are used to on our iPod. The control knob can be mounted to your car by using supplied the screws and base plate or by adhesive tape - whichever you prefer. We found its optimum position was next to the handbrake, so you can control the tunes while you are driving - without taking your eyes off the road.
The knob emulates the iPod click wheel controls with five buttons: select, top menu, left and right skip tracks and the bottom play/pause. Scrolling through your songs is pretty smooth, even if it still isn't as effective or speedy as we are used to on the iPod. This is because the control knob doesn't scroll 360 degrees; instead it rotates just 90 degrees. Once you let go it springs back into its normal position but if you hold the knob down it scrolls - how quickly this operates can be adjusted in the settings menu. Overall it's hard to replicate the excellent click-wheel system, so Harman Kardon deserve some credit for their implementation - even if it isn't perfect.
Sound quality is where this unit really impresses. Although it will ultimately depend on your car stereo and speakers as well as the quality of your music files, we were still very impressed. The Drive+Play performed excellently and was without doubt the best quality sound we've been able to achieve in our car from an iPod. Tunes were rich and vibrant, and suffered none of the regular interference we are used to with FM transmitters.
There are a couple of smaller issues though. The Drive + Play only displays elapsed track time, only supports ISO8950 characters (so any accented letters in your track titles won't be shown properly) and doesn't remember what you last played when you turn it off, so you'll have to scroll all the way back to that track or playlist again. For the convenience it offers though, these faults are very minor.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 3 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 4 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Early iPhone 7 reviews: You'll miss the headphone jack, but the camera and battery life are tops
- Watch out: iOS 10 install is reportedly bricking some iPhones
- Google's Pixel Launcher leak hints at the demise of the Nexus brand
- It's official: iOS 10 launches with huge improvements to iMessage, Apple Music, Siri, and more
- Goodbye GPS? DARPA preparing alternative position-tracking technology
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- Ring Video Doorbell review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTFront End Developer | 6- 12mths ContractOther
- FTBusiness Intelligence / Datawarehouse DeveloperOther
- CCSenior DeveloperNSW
- CCReporting Data Analyst - TelcoVIC
- CCFront End Developer - BrisbaneVIC
- FTFront End Developer (AEM / Java)Other
- FTSAP Fiori Java Script DevelopersACT
- FTInfrastructure EngineerACT
- TP.Net Developer - Australian Government ICT ContractorACT
- FTEmail Marketing Specialist/ Campaign SpecialistOther
- FTProject Manager Large ICT Enabled Business Change ProjectQLD
- TPJunior Node.js DeveloperVIC
- TPSenior Change ManagerACT
- FTService Desk EngineerNSW
- TPSenior UX SpecialistVIC
- CCTechnical Specialist - VirtualisationVIC
- FTSenior .Net DeveloperOther
- FTCommunications & Change AnalystOther
- FTInfrastructure Engineer - Financial Services - Contract - Sydney CBDNSW
- FTDigital Marketing Executive / Content ProducerOther
- FTManual Test AnalystQLD
- FTProject Manager (Rail/Control Signals)Other
- FTJava Network DeveloperOther