Music And Movie Playback
Infiniti equips its Hard Drive Navigation System with familiar AM/FM, Sirius XM satellite radio, DVD playback, and USB ports for compatibility with most popular media formats. Although a lot of control is possible through the touchscreen, you also get traditional volume and tuning control knobs, as well as buttons for direct source and preset selection. We actually prefer this. Touch-based displays require your attention, which is a bad thing when you're driving a 4,400-pound wrecking ball. It's a lot easier to get the "feel" for where the button you want is located without ever taking eyes off the road.
AM/FM and Sirius XM are common, and controlling them is easy (though it's worth noting that you cannot time-shift the satellite radio). There is no HD Radio here, which is a bummer because we've really grown to like it. If you enjoy listening to the radio, you'll have to live with good old analog broadcasts. Considering Infiniti's asking price and the JX35's technological complexity, it's really pretty unforgivable not to support HD Radio.
You'll find a USB port in the armrest console for easy interfacing with a flash drive or iPod. We popped in a thumb drive and played music off of it for most of our week with the JX35; it was really that easy. The system had no trouble reading media files or navigating the folder hierarchy. Track data is displayed if it's available, which is nice, since some of the vehicles we've reviewed only convey file names.
With that said, traversing folders is somewhat of a pain. The control knob works well for navigation, unless you simply want to scroll through the folder list. As it turns out, the Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System likes to automatically start playing music as soon as a folder is highlighted.
Imagine jamming along to some Kanye. Once Clique is over, you want to search for something else. So, you start browsing other folders, only to have each new one you navigate through start playing back. Maybe you have a passenger in the car who shouldn't be hearing the extent of your collection. This is the first time we've encountered an infotainment system behave like this, and we're not quite sure why anyone would want it to. It makes a lot more sense to require that the driver confirm his or her selection.
Steering Wheel Controls
Infiniti puts the most typically-used controls within finger's reach on the steering wheel. You'll find up and down toggle buttons that mimic the control knob's operation, along with an Enter button to confirm item selection. A separate return key goes back to the previous menu. Volume control, Source, voice command, and phone buttons are available, too.