Review of the Domain DM-DV703USB 2 DIN video/mp3/cd car stereo

My Toyota VITZ 2004 came with a “Japanese Only” Stereo, which included a reverse camera. To get the reverse camera working, in addition to some wiring tweaks (See my post on “Original Toyota Reverse Light Camera on 2004 Vitz/Echo with an aftermarket stereo“).

As I can’t call myself an audiophile, and I can be tight-fisted (who wants to spend 1/10th of a run-around vehicles value on expensive stereo equipment – especially when it spends time in a “not-that-good” neighbourhood), I decided to purchase a budget stereo off Trademe.

I picked up a Domain 7″ DVD/CD/USB/SD receiver, model DM-DV703USB from Sound Tech for arround $200 (you can get a similar one from Jonvy), and tried to install it.

First the good news – It uses an ISO wiring harness, meaning I could just spend a few dollars converting the Toyota stereo cabling to work with this stereo, and it uses standard RCA inputs for video.   The wires are labled, so this is all quite straight forward.

When the unit starts up, it shows the stereo splash screen, complete with a picture of Auckland CBD (Sky Tower is clearly prominent).  From the lack of information about this stereo I thus presume its a Chinese Import which has been customised and labelled for a New Zealand Importer.

The screen looks quite readable, and there is a row of buttons down the bottom.   The front screen tilts down to reveal the CD and SD slots.  There is a mini USB port on the front.   One nice thing about this unit (which is not boasted about) is that it also has a full size rear USB port – which is what I plugged my memory stick into, as I was able to access this from underneath dash even when the radio was installed.

The sound was quite good – I’m no audiophile, but certainly nothing to complain about.  The stereo also seemed to work well, automatically picking up the station names as it found them.   I did not try playing any DVD’s.

I really wanted this unit to be good enough – and gave it my best – I even communicated with the manufacturer who eventually took the unit back – after convincing themselves the unit was not faulty.

Now the Problems.  Unfortunately they were – for me – dealbreakers.  I eventually returned the unit for a refund from the supplier.

There were some (tolerable) limitations to the stereo design – It relied very heavily on a resistive touch screen, so skipping tracks required taking ones eyes off the road for longer then is ideal.   Still, at $200, I could have lived with that.

The problem I could not live with were the software / touch screen bugs.  The software in this unit is clearly buggy.  The biggest problem is that intermittently the touch screen would just stop working.  Even restarting the vehicle or powering off the stereo would not fix it.    (I now believe removing the USB stick might have fixed the problem, I only worked this possibility out when I was removing the unit to send back to the seller).

See the video above to show me pushing at the touch screen and nothing happening, even after a reset and other attempts.

When the touch screen was not working, the remote also did not respond.

There were other intermittent software faults as well.   For example (and despite accusations it was not wired correctly – which don’t stand up to scrutiny as the video below shows), the reverse camera sometime stayed on even when not reversing.  (It could not have been a wiring issue as changing the inputs reset it to work, and there was music playing while the camera input was showing.  The reverse camera only had a video input, and when I was in reverse no sound was played, so this is clearly a software fault.

Conclusion – This would be a great deal if it worked properly.  There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the hardware, but the software just does not cut it for me – not by a long shot.   If, and its a big if, a firmware revision comes out fixing these bugs it might be worth looking at again, but I’m not holding my breath as the distributor never responded to my request for a firmware upgrade.