Oh! What a time to be alive. If 2020 hasn’t resembled a drunken real-life game of Jumanji I’ll eat an olive (I hate olives). Although, no matter how bad the year’s been, it has given us the chance to revisit a brand that we dealt with a lot in the past; Axis. Namely their entry-level Apple CarPlay unit, the Axis AX1870CP. The big question remains though, is it any good? Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t automatically mean it’s a bargain.
Who, or what is Axis AX1870CP?
You may already know Axis if you’ve ever had a company car or a vehicle in the industrial space. They make components for are used at dealerships, or trade as we call it in the biz. They’ve been in the scene for well over 10-years and have had more than a few products in the car audio sector. Plus, they’re designed in Japan… so, it’s basically an S13 180SX #jdmbaby!
We’ll admit, they’re not a rock-star brand like Pioneer, Kenwood, JL Audio, or Sony. But they’re also not a COVID Chinese ring-in brand with shady practises and poor quality. As we get into it a little further in this review, the Axis AX1870CP is actually a pretty respectable unit with an amazing price tag for the latter end of 2020.
You’re going to be looking at this thing, a lot. So you’re going to want to know how it performs, how it looks, feels and how responsive it is.
Measuring in at 6.8″ (or just over 172mm), the Capacitive LCD display is a good size. Nothing as crazy as the Kenwood DMX9720XDS, but just what you’d expect. Manufacturers have come under fire this year in relation to the resolution of their screens, but, in practice (not on paper) the 800 x 480 the Axis XP1870CP is packing is nothing to sneeze at.
Comparing the resolution to what Apple actually advises, you’ll find that it’s perfect. Anything higher and you’re getting into 85″ QLED Ultra HD 8K Smart TV territory. I mean, it’s great for flexing to your friends, or your Tinder profile. But in reality, you’d need to sit on top of the screen for it to actually be better than your 5-year old 1080P Special Buy TV from Aldi.
We’ve had one of these units on the build box in the workshop for a couple of days and in that time we’ve taken the Axis AX1870CP for walks in the bright, bright sunlight. The viewability isn’t effected to a degree where it’s unusable. We give it solid passing marks.
Although the list isn’t short, it’s important to remember that the Axis AX1870CP is $100 cheaper than its doppelganger, the Sony XAV-AX1000. We’ve got to compare apples with apples here.
The regular features you’d want appear on the list and work quite well. Bluetooth hands-free in the Axis is something to take note of as well. In the lower-end units, the quality of the Bluetooth is always a point of anger. Not here though. An external Bluetooth ‘boom’ mic makes sure the quality of your calls is crystal clear. The A2DP audio streaming allows any and all Bluetooth enabled phones to become the DJ.
The unit can play the usual list of video files from a USB stick – but of course, never whilst the car is in motion on Australian Public Roads and only with the handbrake engaged…
We all know the reason you’re reading this is that the Axis AX1870CP is Apple CarPlay for under $400. Working with the unit and Apple CarPlay is exactly as you’d expect. Everything works as per the design and that makes sense, as it’s an officially licensed Apple CarPlay product – they don’t just hand out those licenses in Cupertino (where Apple’s from)!
As I so subtly mentioned earlier, the Axis AX1870CP’s styling is very clearly a nod to Sony’s long-running, market destroying XAV-AX1000. It’s proven a very popular model for Sony and at this price point, if you’re a fan of the knob… volume knob, this is a great looking unit.
When using the unit, it doesn’t feel cheap or fragile. It feels like an entry to mid-level unit. The construction of the unit is well done and in-dash, it looks great.
In the top right, those with keen 20/20 vision will note the small Micro-SD card slot… from what we can tell that’s for you to use if the two USB ports from the back of the unit are being used. We just loaded Drake’s 2016 album, Views on it so we always had sweet tunes on hand.
All in all, when it comes to the design, or attractiveness of the Axis AX1870CP do you want a physical volume knob – or not? Personally, I use my Steering Wheel Controls 98% of the time, so I don’t actually mind it. But hey, it’s your call!
My bet is that at least 70% of you reading this haven’t even thought “yeah, this unit’s cool and is at a great price, but how hard is it to install?” That’s fine, I forgive you. I also bring you super good news!
yeah, this unit’s cool and is at a great price, but how hard is it to install?
The boffins at Axis made this thing with an ISO wiring harness! Now to almost everyone reading this, that means installing the Axis AX1870CP requires one Aerpro Primary harness… that’s it! True plug ‘n’ play from the factory. Installing this thing in a 2004 Toyota Hilux, for example, would cost $25 in parts and would take no longer than 5-minutes.
In terms of installation, this has got to be one of the best units on the market, at any price-point.
Reliability and Warranty
I know you guys think about this stuff. Mainly because you tell me that you do. I want to do my best to assure you that Axis is actually a brand. They’re not something that popped up to profit during COVID and they’re definitely going to be around into the future.
Previous to now, they haven’t really been directly in the consumer market. They’ve kind of been in the wings, off to the side supporting the whole process. With the Axis AX1870CP they’ve kind of thrown their hat into the ring and said: “This is what we can do, what do you think?”
We’ve had this model since the middle of the year and we’ve moved… enough to get a grip on their quality and if they’re going to be a problem product for us or not… I’m now writing a review about it telling you it’s a great unit.
Unlike some of the above mentioned rock-star brands, Axis gives a 24-month warranty for the AX1890CP. If that’s not enough of a nod to their after-sales commitment, we’ve only had 2 reported issues which were both 100% resolved within 30-minutes.
There’s a lot of competition at the top of the mountain as to who’s got the biggest screen, who’s got the best sound processor and who deserves the title of 2020’s Best Head Unit? But. Knowing who’s the best at the entry-level can actually be more important sometimes.
You’ll get a solid, respectable and well built entry-level Apple CarPlay unit (with a pleasant sneaky secret) in the Axis AX1870CP. It’s something we’re happy to have on our shelf, both virtual and physical at Bankstown Sound & Marine.