Clarion NZ502E 1-Din Stereo Review

The King of the Single Dins? Despite the novelty of driving inevitably wearing off the longer a drive continues for, car journeys can still be quite fun when you are equipped with an excellent mile munching helper like the Clarion NZ502E. Music, video for when you take a driving break, and a built-in navigation stereo system makes the NZ502E a true stand alone head unit capable of close to all the requirements you may need when behind the wheel.

While some might say that Smartphones have rendered the need for such built-in systems unnecessary, the fact remains that Smartphones tend to be more of a cause of distraction than an aid.

After all, you are required to manually operate them, which can distract you from the road ahead. While you can - "set and forget" in regards to using it as a SAT-NAV. As in, program the route and not touch the phone again, it's much more convenient to have an all-in-one control unit that has a much bigger screen, is wired to the cars speaker system and is always within easy reach.

Car audio head units are ten-a-penny these days. There are so many out there to choose from. No matter if you're after an after-market Single Din or Double Din, and whether you have £50 or £500 to spend. There is a stereo, or should I say, complete entertainment unit to match your needs and budget. Needless to say, the Clarion NZ502E is right at the top end where price is concerned.

Here are some of the best lower priced alternatives:

Pioneer SPH-DA230DAB

Sony XAV-AX1000


Amidst an array of choices, this Clarion 7" Flip Out manages to stand apart thanks to some of its excellent features. If I were to go through everything this model can do, I would be here for a week typing. So this "review", or general chat really, will cover some of its most stand-out features.

For those who don't want to read the whole review, and just want a brief low-down of what this model has to offer. Quick to power up and pleasing on the eye, It has a built-in Satellite Navigation system (SIRF teleatlas), Bluetooth, DVD / CD player, tuner, 7 Inch WVGA flip out screen, built-in microphone, 4 x 50 Watt output, MP3, MP4 and WMA compatible, DVB-T ready, Aux connection, USB connection, and a remote control. It is reverse camera compatible (Camera not included).

Questions widely asked about this model:

Does the screen come off so I can take it with me when I leave the car?

No, it is fixed. But with the press of a button the screen actually folds away back into the stereo itself, so it isn't constantly on show.

Do I always have to have the screen out to use the stereo?

No, this unit also works with the seven Inch screen concealed.

Although it doesn't look like it from first glance, the NZ502E is a 1-Din. Being a standard size after-market Single Din means that the chances of this head unit fitting into the stereo slot of most vehicles, regardless of make, is quite high. in some cases an adjustment or extra interface may be required. The good news for all those who want this stereo in a Double Din, is that there is a version out there for sale. It is a slightly older model which is called the NX501E. This earlier model has a slightly smaller screen, but is still a great after-market head unit.

High Quality 7" WVGA Touchscreen Monitor

The Clarion NZ502E seven-inch head unit is equipped with a 7 Inch touchscreen flip out monitor that has a high-resolution WVGA (Wide Video Graphics Array) display. Which is kind of like the High Definition (HD quality) for the VGA family. The screen manages to be impressively responsive to the slightest touch, which makes operating the unit while driving a piece of cake.

The fact that it does not include any knob-like buttons also gives the head unit, and thereby the cockpit of the vehicle, a modern vibe. In a world where aesthetics are almost as important as functionality, a lot of people will like the futuristic look this unit gives off.

Built-In Navigation System

Gone are the days when we relied on our memory and actual maps to navigate across roads. While there is something exciting (and fuel draining) about going on an adventure where you are not sure where you are headed, in our daily lives, most of us now rely on a sound GPS system to help guide our path. As mentioned, this head unit is accompanied by an excellent built-in navigation system which is easy to get your head around.

Instead of having a complicated system to set up, like some do, all you need to do is enter your destination and you will be provided with voice prompts telling you in advance every turn you need to take. The system is also preloaded with various points of interest (12 million of them to be exact) so that you don’t need to wait around for the system to locate your destination and provide its services.

Parrot Bluetooth

One of the features liked best about the Clarion NZ502E was the inclusion of a Parrot Bluetooth, which meant that the system could provide its users with super easy to use hands-free phone usage. The built-in microphone and the ability of the system to access your phonebook by pairing with your smartphone mean that you can attend to important calls without being distracted from the road.

Moreover, the Bluetooth feature allows you to play the music stored on your phone without having to connect it to an aux cord. However, for those of you who wish to control the head unit with your iPhone, the product comes with a rear USB connection for this purpose. The Clarion's Bluetooth offered within the NZ502E is compatible with a variety of devices, including Acer, Apple, Blackberry, Lenovo, LG, Nokia, and HTC.

Things that could be improved

While this is now an older model, there's no doubt about it, even in 2019 / 2020, this is still a superb after-market Single Din stereo system. But just because it has a lot going for it, that does not mean it doesn't have a few flaws. Or, things that would have made it a bit more user-friendly overall. There are so many features and options incorporated into this head unit that it does have a learning curve that may frustrate some users. It will be worth taking the time to get to grips with though.

The USB connection is located at the back of the unit. However, this connection is actually joined to an extension lead, which has a decent enough length to reach where you need it to. So it's not as if you have to take the stereo out to use the USB. But a front USB would be more convenient.

Furthermore, the head unit is quite pricey, which makes the lack of certain features, like the inability to personalize the interface or a lack of rotary volume button noticeable drawbacks. After all, you do expect such features when you are paying a premium price.

All in all, while the product does have a few things that it could be improved on, the fact remains that it succeeds in providing versatility and excellent performance. Whether it be audio streaming or multi-language support, the sheer number of useful functions that the head unit provides its users, makes it a worthy investment. Want the next model up? Take a look for the NZ503. Great stereo if you can find one for sale. If you're looking for the install and product PDF manuals, you can read / download them here from the official Clarion website.


Anonymous said...

This unit, while a classic, is way overpriced. The NZ502E and NZ501E are still good but Android based units have taken over.

Anonymous said...

I agree. This was a great stereo back in the day, but its quite outdated now. I don't think they are even produced anymore. Can't find them being sold brand new. There's not even any used or reconditioned on amazon or ebay.

Anonymous said...

Discontinued. No longer made.

Popular Posts