The 4 Best Car Stereos with HDMI Input / Output in 2021

Kaelum Ross

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Jan 17, 2021

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In the world of car stereos, nearly every head unit chooses to take the cheaper route of only having composite inputs/outputs available as your video solution..

This can be frustrating, as a head unit with input (or even just an output) can open up doors to screen mirroring, a second display for your HDMI device/laptop/games console, and of course, HD visuals from anything you’re sharing.

Thankfully, there are a few great options amongst the many composite head units to do just this.

So today’s feature on What in Tech will take you through the best double din car stereos with HDMI inputs (or output only for cheaper choices).

Top Picks

Overall Best Car Stereo with HDMI Input: Kenwood Excelon Reference DMX1057XR

Kenwood is one of the best head unit manufacturers in the business, so it was little surprise to see them be one of the few brands to produce an excellent double din with HDMI input included.

Lead by its gorgeous, bright, and large HD touchscreen and decent sound; the DMX1057XR has all of the quality of life features you need in a car stereo system (from Bluetooth to advanced audio customization options).

The crowning unique feature on this car stereo system is, of course, its HDMI input port – with the potential to act as a secondary screen for movies, your computer, or even a games console, its great to see this capability on a head unit when this technology so often settles for just A/V composite connection. 

Compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, this system can act as a great navigation device for either of the main 2 mobile platforms, with great UI attached to each fo its main software pieces (from vehicle information to dashboard camera views, with up to 4 camera connections available).

The build quality is top tier as you would expect for a premium head unit It also boasts a sleek, glossy design to match, with subtle LEDs illuminating the main buttons of the unit.

What else is there to say? Kenwood has created a fantastic product in the DMX1057XR.

Yes, it is an expensive offering, but if you’re after the best HDMI head unit today, this is easily our top choice.

Runner-Up Best Car Stereo with HDMI Input: Pioneer AVH-W4400NEX

Pioneer, another classic car stereo brand, has created the cheapest car head unit with an HDMI input that we’ve seen on Amazon.

Boasting many of the same features that make our top Kenwood pick great, the AVH-W4400NEX has a decent screen and audio, built-in wi-fi/Bluetooth, good compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and of course, its HDMI input. This head unit is more than capable of acting as a decent navigator for all of your typical demands from a car system.

The AVH-4400NEX is an excellent device and was very nearly picked as our overall top winner. If your budget for a car stereo with HDMI is closer to this than the Kenwood pick, there’s no shame in picking this device up instead. We gave the top pick to the Kenwood head unit because that offering, for its big price tag, feels like a premium unit in every way; the screen is more vibrant, the UI/quality of life features/connection capabilities are slightly better and many other elements are just a touch above the Pioneer head unit.

But perhaps the biggest difference is the smaller screen size, with the Kenwood’s 10.1″ display being notably larger than the Pioneer’s 7″ screen. The smaller size might work better for your car, we just imagine most people after a head unit with HDMI will be intending to screen mirror/use their screen for HD video, and a larger screen can really help improve that experience.

But we’ll restate; for a mid-range price, you won’t get a better HDMI car stereo than this Pioneer offering. If your budget can’t stretch to Kenwood, we think you’ll love this pick.

Best Budget Car Stereo with HDMI: XTRONS Android 10

Now if you’re after a very cheap head unit with HDMI, this XTRONS stereo may sound too good to be true with its incredibly low price-point.

But there’s a big caveat; it’s HDMI capability is an output only.

This means you won’t be able to plug in a device (like your phone/PC). The purpose of the XTRON’s HDMI is only to output to another screen.

So, if your idea of having HDMI in your car was only important to allow you to mirror what is on your main car stereo to another screen (say, mirroring a movie to the backseat for other passengers to watch) then this might be all you need.

We imagine most readers had other ideas in mind, and if that’s you, you’ll need the above picks to satisfy that.

Other than the HDMI capability, the XTRONS Android 10 is a good head unit considering its very low price. With GPS navigation, Bluetooth, Android/iOS screen mirroring capabilities, and a decent HD touchscreen, it’s a surprisingly decent offering.

Yes, the brand isn’t as large as our top picks, but many users have been pleased with the XTRONS Android 10.

It really all comes down to if you need the HDMI input. If you can live without it/would rather save the money, this is an incredibly cheap HDMI car stereo.

Best Head Unit with HDMI Honorable Mention: LINKSWELL Gen IV

Linkswell, another decent head unit manufacturer has also thrown their name into the HDMI double din game.

With its enormous 12.1 vertical aligned screen, the Linkswell Gen IV feels like more of a traditional nav panel, which if you’re not interested in watching movies, actually provides a really nice user experience. The software for car navigation, music, and screen mirroring a phone all feel more aligned with a vertical orientation.

Elsewhere in the features is everything you’d expect from a premium head unit; GPS, Bluetooth, wi-fi, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and decent UI. Not to mention a solid, durable build quality.

With all that said, why is this an “honorable mention” instead of a top-pick?

Well, unfortunately, the Linkswell Gen IV is quite limited in its compatibility, with each model being made for specific car types.

The linked model is for F150 2015 to 2019 and F250/F350/F450 2017 to 2019. There are a couple more floating around on Amazon that may fit your model if you’re lucky.

But overall, while this is a great head unit with HDMI input if you have the right model, we imagine many of you will have to look at our other picks (which is no bad thing, even head to head vs our Kenwood pick, we would still choose Kenwood for most users!).

Alternative Option: HDMI to Composite Conversion with Traditional Head Unit

If, for whatever reason, you’ve looked at the above options and felt that they aren’t right for you (or perhaps aren’t compatible with your system), we wanted to provide one cheap (albeit inferior) alternative to having a double din car stereo with HDMI input.

If your head unit doesn’t have HDMI, chances are it will instead of A/V (composite) inputs (though be sure to check yourself).

If that’s the case, you can purchase this composite to HDMI converter kit that will allow you to plug an HDMI into your A/V car stereo.

So, why do we call this an inferior alternative? There are 2  reasons:

  1. Even with a convertor, an A/V connection will only output standard definition (up to 480p) so you will miss out on HD content.
  2. Stating the obvious but, a bulky converter with extra wires is not a good aesthetic if you’re trying to create a clean dashboard.

With that said, if you can’t afford one of our top HDMI car stereo picks, this is certainly a decent option for the tiny price of a convertor!

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