Right – now this is in the car and working, let’s talk about how good it is (or isn’t).
First off, I have a bog standard audi audio system – which by all accounts is actually pretty good. I always loved the warmth of the sound and the strength of the bass was OK. But now I have an Alpine system – what differences are there?
Well, for one, I found that I do in fact have a sub woofer in my car – not particularly obvious but it is now punching out some more serious bass than before. The speakers consist of fronts split into two – mid range and tweeters, plus an additional centre channel on the dashboard top, and the rears which are standard single cone stuff.
Adding the Alpine unit and I can honestly say everything is that much cleaner and crisper – the bass has added punch and I can hear things I couldn’t hear before… low volumes seems to allow me to still hear the quietest intro – even at high speeds in my turbo diesel. I still get a punch in the chest when I listen to the right kind of music – and the high end is just so much cleaner as to be unreal. A colleague actually thought I had upgraded the speakers – the sound was that different.
I also don’t get as much audio compression in the car- the sound is less ‘oppressive’ if I can describe it that way – the Audi unit seems wooly be comparison to the Alpine. I guess it is a bit like the difference between a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster – you either like one or the other, seldom both.
Overall, quality has improved. The standard speaker set up copes really well and with the iPod unit all working I am enjoying the music far more than I have ever done before. That’s not to say the Dension ICE>Link wasn’t any good – it is – just that the Alpine unit has faster response rates and just, well, works!
What about the navigation?
This has been interesting. So far I have only driven in areas I know really well. On some occasions the accuracy of the unit has been off by about 30 yards (quite normal), but on other occasions I have driven along well known roads and the unit lost navigation. It also tried to direct me through the centre of a town when I could have used the by-pass (I used the ‘short’ route option and not the ‘quick’ which could have something to do with it). It also has some ambiguity at cross roads where there is a ‘straight ahead’ option. It sometimes tells me to turn left and then right. Hmm. Also, on exiting roundabouts it is about 70% accurate as to where the exit lane really is.
All in all you still need a fair degree of common sense. This unit isn’t going to turn on your indicators for you and some roads which bend sharply are considered to be junctions when they are not. Keep some common sense about what you are doing, use the road signs as well and you are going to be OK.
The map feature is fine – all that is needed for most journeys. I really don’t believe a 7″ screen in full colour will add anything to the experience – I’m happy with my ‘Bio-lite’ display.
So have I ditched the map book yet? In short, no – I still think it has a place in the car, if just to be able to show me the ‘bigger picture’ when going to new places.
The one thing I adore with this unit is post code searching… so overall I wouldn’t give it up even if I have violated my manufacturer’s warranty! It sounds great, is very practical and looks the bees knees too… what more could you ask?
(well, a phone kit that works, of course…)