Hands-on With Boss Audio's Latest CarPlay Receiver (With Exclusive Deal for MacRumors Readers)

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, May 17, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2001
    #1
    [​IMG]


    A couple of months ago, Boss Audio debuted its latest aftermarket CarPlay receiver, the BVCP9685A, offering a relatively low-cost way to add wired CarPlay (and Android Auto) to your existing vehicle.

    The BVCP9685A is a double DIN unit with a 6.75-inch capacitive screen and a vertical strip of capacitive touch controls along the left side. With an external microphone and support for steering wheel controls and backup camera input when paired with proper auxiliary wiring, the BVCP9685A can integrate with much of the existing technology in your vehicle.


    Boss Audio sent me a demo unit of the BVCP9685A to test out, and I've come away pretty impressed with its ability to deliver CarPlay functionality at a budget price point, which is currently even lower with an exclusive 5 percent discount code for MacRumors readers.

    [​IMG]

    The BVCP9685A demo unit I received is a relatively self-contained package, hooked up to a standard AC power plug and a small external speaker. That makes it easy to test out the unit without needing to install it in a vehicle, which can be a bit tricky depending on your level of experience and the types of connections you need to make.

    [​IMG]

    On the flip side, the demo unit doesn't give you the full experience, so this is more of a hands-on look than a complete review as I haven't been able to test its sound quality with a full car speaker setup, integration with steering wheel controls and rear camera, and some other features.

    Overview

    Boss's BVCP9685A offers a relatively clean look dominated by the large screen, although it does have a bit of a bottom bezel where there is some Boss branding and the model number. A strip to the left of the screen offers persistent access to capacitive mute, volume, Siri, and home buttons. The buttons are a little on the small side in a tradeoff with maximizing the size of the main screen.

    [​IMG]

    The 6.75-inch, 800x480 screen is bright and fairly crisp, although it doesn't quite match the higher resolutions seen on some other more expensive systems. The touch buttons along the left side can be set to just about any color of the rainbow or allowed to cycle through a range of colors automatically, and separate color and brightness options can be set for day and night modes.

    [​IMG]

    The main interface of the BVCP9685A consists of a set of tiles that offer access to the system's functions like radio, CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free calling, rear camera, and media player functions over Bluetooth, USB or an RCA AV connection on the rear of the unit. Small tiles also offer access to settings and an equalizer.

    The overall look certainly isn't as polished as some infotainment systems, but if you're a CarPlay user you'll likely be spending much of your time in there anyway.

    The radio app offers a large display of the current station and a couple of sets of forward and backward buttons to help navigate between stations on the dial and via presets. Other options let you switch between AM and FM, stereo and mono, local and distant station optimization, and more.

    [​IMG]

    It's fairly easy to operate, although some of the options aren't necessarily intuitive such as the way tapping the option icons toggles indicators elsewhere on the display rather than simply changing a label on the icon itself. Tuning buttons also aren't explicitly labeled, although you'll quickly learn how they work once you start using them.

    [​IMG]

    Playing media from an external device such as via Bluetooth is a similar affair, although I think the look of the media player screen is a bit better than the radio screen, with full track, artist, and album information as well as clear play/pause, track skip, and shuffle buttons along the bottom.

    CarPlay

    CarPlay and Android Auto require a wired connection on the BVCP9685A, which many users prefer considering they want to charge their phones while in the car, but for those who prefer wireless CarPlay that's starting to become more widely available in aftermarket units, you'll need to look elsewhere.

    [​IMG]

    The BVCP9685A includes a pair of USB ports on short cables, one for CarPlay/Android Auto and one limited to charging and media playback, so you'll need to make sure you connect your Lightning cable to the right one. Once you're up and running with CarPlay, you'll find the usual experience with access to the default Apple apps, compatible third-party apps, and a dedicated Boss icon to take you out of CarPlay and back to the Boss system.

    [​IMG]

    The screen is definitely smaller than some built-in infotainment systems that can go up to 8 inches or more, but within the limitations of the double DIN size standard, Boss has done a pretty good job of maximizing screen space. A few competitors have pushed their screen sizes to 7 inches by using skinny hardware buttons along the bottom of the unit, but Boss gets pretty close to that size while keeping buttons along the left where they're closest to the driver.

    Overall, the CarPlay interface looks good on the BVCP9685A, with Maps being where you would most likely notice the difference compared to systems with larger screens, due to the mapping field of view and the various informational overlays. CarPlay is relatively responsive on the BVCP9685A, accurately registering taps and swipes.

    [​IMG]

    In addition to the Boss icon on the CarPlay home screen, you can also use the main capacitive home/back button in the lower left corner of the BVCP9685A to jump out of CarPlay and over to the Boss system. That button can take you back into CarPlay, but only if it's the immediately previous screen you were on. If you switch over to the Boss system and then fiddle with radio settings, for example, you'll need to get back to the Boss home screen and then tap the CarPlay tile there to return to CarPlay.

    Wrap-up

    As an entry-level CarPlay receiver, the Boss BVCP9685A looks like a solid way to bring your iPhone to the dashboard in your existing vehicle. It doesn't include features seen on more (in some cases much more) expensive models like SiriusXM tuner support, a wireless microphone, a DVD/CD drive, or built-in navigation, but if what you primarily need is CarPlay you may not be interested in many of those missing features.

    The BVCP9685A is currently priced at $239.99 on Amazon, but the exclusive MacRumors discount available through this link knocks $12.00 off of that through May 22. Boss is also currently offering a $35.00 on-page or in-cart coupon that is stackable with the MacRumors discount, bringing the final price down to just $192.99.

    That's a fantastic price for a CarPlay aftermarket head unit, but do keep in mind when budgeting that depending on your install situation, you may need to pick up some extra equipment like wiring harnesses and perhaps pay for professional installation if you're not comfortable with cracking open your dashboard yourself.

    Note: Boss provided MacRumors with a loaner demo unit of the BVCP9685A for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

    Article Link: Hands-on With Boss Audio's Latest CarPlay Receiver (With Exclusive Deal for MacRumors Readers)
     
  2. coachgq, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019

    coachgq macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #2
    How do you get that extra $35 coupon?

    EDIT: NVM Found it
     
  3. jermy4 macrumors demi-god

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    #3
    $192.99 is a heck of a deal for a CarPlay receiver
     
  4. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #4
    Once you add it to your cart, you should see the option to clip the coupon there. Alternatively, you should see it on the product page itself.

    Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 4.38.25 PM.jpg
     
  5. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #5
    I looked into the Boss CP head unit not too long ago.

    I would purchase it today for an old truck of mine, but I really hate not having a volume knob.

    They are not mechanical/physical buttons? That sucks too.....

    The price tag is tempting, but I really hate the touch screen buttons for a head unit.
     
  6. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #6
    Correct, just capacitive touch sensing.
     
  7. vicviper789 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    #7
    No physical buttons = no go but now I’m about to drop $300 on a unit I didn’t think I’d want :(
     
  8. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #8
    Some people may complain about the "wired" requirement, but given that I'm generally running Waze when I'm driving and that constant GPS connection chews through the battery like crazy - that doesn't seem like a big deal. My phone's going to be plugged in whether the Car Play connection requires it or not. :p

    At some point I want to replace the existing unit in my 2015 Camry with something that supports CarPlay... I'm hoping I can keep using the controls on the steering wheel with it, though; plus have the backup camera auto-engage when I shift into reverse, as is currently the case. Seems like there's fair bit of research one needs to do before committing.
     
  9. ManualFocusRing macrumors newbie

    ManualFocusRing

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2019
    #9
    I remember when Boss Audio first came onto the scene. They were the welfare brand in car audio. Their amps were always rated for outrageous outputs. We used to joke and say that they'd only output their ratings ILS (if lightning strikes). Lol. Has that changed?
     
  10. vertical smile, May 17, 2019
    Last edited: May 17, 2019

    vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #10
    While I never used a Boss Audio head unit nor amp, I own this Boss Audio sub. I am extremely impressed with it considering how much it cost.

    6 years ago, I was trying to find a decent shallow subwoofer to fit a custom 10" sub enclosure that I made to fit behind the passenger side seat of my MR2, but there was hardly any that were shallow enough, or they were really expensive.

    The Boss Audio sub was really cheap, and had next-day shipping at the time, so I decided to give it a try, and go with something else if it didn't perform well enough.

    It end up exceeding my expectations, so much so that it is still in my MR2 6 years later. It punches pretty well, so much that it could make a passenger's back feel like it is getting a very violent massage. I usually the subs down when there is a passenger with me.

    I should mention that I am not an audiophile, and the MR2 cab is kind of small with two firewalls in the front and rear, so it doesn't take much to fill the space with sound.

    I understand this, but I wouldn't mind having wireless CP. You can still charge your phone if you need to even with wireless CP, but having it wireless, give the user the option of whether to plug in or not.

    This is probably not an issue with the many different adapters out there.

    You can use Crutchfield.com to see what you need for your car. I have purchased from them a few times, and while they are not always the cheapest, they are very helpful with planning the job. Sometimes I find some decent deals on there though.
     
  11. smarch macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    #11
    I’m the biggest Apple fan boy, but the one time I tried car play it seemed pretty annoying.
     
  12. midkay macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    #12
    CarPlay is awesome but the screen quality looks pretty bad on this unit. In the photos it looks super washed out. Get what you pay for I suppose.
     
  13. H3LL5P4WN macrumors 68000

    H3LL5P4WN

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #13
    For this price, I think I’d be stupid to pass it up.

    Now to look up the required parts to fit this on Crutchfield...
     
  14. cube macrumors P6

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #14
    They don't seem to have it. I think they usually lag a bit.
    --- Post Merged, May 18, 2019 ---
    More like $1200 for a proper one.
     
  15. Sharkbait0000 macrumors newbie

    Sharkbait0000

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2015
    #15

    The volume buttons are my second big gripe. I have it in my 07 tundra. Volume control is slow but not impossibly difficult.
    --- Post Merged, May 18, 2019 ---
    It’s a great aftermarket unit for older cars and trucks. I have it in my 07 tundra. Love the car play. Two gripes I have are the volume buttons and the equalizer. I’d prefer physical volume buttons as the ones on it seem slow to respond at times. The equalizer is one of the kinds where you have to pick every frequency rather than just choose bass/treble and go up or down. They have presets but I’m not impressed by them. Otherwise totally happy with it display and CarPlay as well as light color button customization.
     
  16. dwfaust macrumors 601

    dwfaust

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #16
    Nice. Good review. I would ask about the quality of the images... the screens appear to be a bit washed out, and I would ask if that it truly the case or if the issue is more related to the coloring and lighting of the photos? I have the Alpine wireless head unit and the screens are vibrant... would hope that the Boss unit is, as well.

    Again, good stuff, and thanks. A sub-$200 price tag is surely something to get one's attention.
    --- Post Merged, May 18, 2019 ---
    I have a wireless CP head unit (Alpine ILX-107) and use the Pitaka wireless charger (MagMount Qi) mounted to the left of the steering wheel... and it's a great setup... But if you do run heavy data-intensive apps (e.g., Waze) using a wired CP unit would not be the end of the world.
     
  17. H3LL5P4WN macrumors 68000

    H3LL5P4WN

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #17
    Crap. Any suggestions on sites that have the installation hardware? I’m sure amazon does, I just need to know specifically what else to buy. I need to keep my steering wheel controls, lol.
     
  18. cube macrumors P6

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #18
    Or you could wait a bit until they have it. Maybe they lag because they have to get the kits ready.
     
  19. dontwalkhand macrumors 603

    dontwalkhand

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #19
    This wouldn’t work for your car. As Camrys (as most other cars) also house settings for the car itself in the radio screen as well. (Gear knob icon or Setup button, then Vehicle Settings). Not all hope is lost though, you’d need to find a unit that supports CAN bus commands, like an Alpine.
    --- Post Merged, May 18, 2019 ---
    I have a buddy who has this right now when MR ran the first special a couple months ago. It isn’t washed out at all. Everything looks as you’d expect, and it works great. Better than the factory unit from 2004.
     
  20. Guda.FL macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    #20
    I went with Sony. Only one still with a volume knob. 1mm volume squares are the worst, will be sitting there for minutes lowering the volume and no immediate mute. Spend the extra and get a better unit.
     
  21. iReality85 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #21
    Once you go double din CarPlay you’ll be spoiled. I got one with my new 2018 Kia Sportage and I love it.

    Are there double dins with resolutions higher than WVGA (800x480)? I tried searching but I’m not finding any options.

    Important note for prospective buyers here- make sure you look up if the screen is resistive or capacitive. You’ll want capacitive, trust me. This particular head unit appears to be capacitive, but many lower end units come with resistive screens. I noticed the difference almost immediately coming from the double din in my previous car.
     
  22. cube, May 18, 2019
    Last edited: May 18, 2019

    cube macrumors P6

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #22
    720p ("HD") is available in the US. Maybe not in Europe. Kenwood, for example.

    I think Crutchfield removed some specifications content so that now it is no longer possible to choose properly just using their site.
     
  23. Uofmtiger macrumors 68020

    Uofmtiger

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    Location:
    Memphis
    #23
    This is very similar to the Planet Audio unit I got a while back. The lack of physical buttons isn’t a big deal. The main things can be wired to the steering wheel controls.
     
  24. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #24
    Agree the photos could have been a bit better...it's not nearly as washed out as it appears in some of the photos. It's not the absolute brightest and sharpest system I've used, but I have no real complaints about it.

    They're fairly rare, but they do exist. I believe Kenwood has some in their eXceleon line, but make sure to double check before buying because not all of them do.
     
  25. Veinticinco macrumors 6502a

    Veinticinco

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Location:
    Europe

Share This Page

29 May 17, 2019