ALPINE INE-W997D

Mul­ti­me­dia head unit

InCar Entertainment  - - CONTENTS -

Mech­less it may be but it pos­sesses a whole stream of fea­tures and func­tion­al­ity while of­fer­ing the won­ders of DAB+.

The new­est in­car­na­tion of the old­est mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy is presently firmly lodged in a chicken and egg co­nun­drum. Ra­dio is ready to move from an ana­logue path­way to a dig­i­tal car­riage. The tech­nol­ogy is here. The stan­dards have been set. But it will be dif­fi­cult for broad­cast­ers to jus­tify the equip­ment ex­pense un­til there’s a crit­i­cal mass of DAB+ re­ceivers.

But there’ll be a lim­ited de­mand for DAB+ re­ceivers un­til broad­cast cov­er­age is wider.

Mean­while, the whole thing has been caught in a bu­reau­cratic morass for years. DAB+ op­er­ates in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Bris­bane, Ade­laide and Perth, and nowhere else of­fi­cially. Tough luck Tassie! Trav­el­ling sales peo­ple, truck­ies and hol­i­day mak­ers from those cap­i­tals, if they have a DAB+ head unit in their ve­hi­cles, will have to switch over to FM or AM soon af­ter em­bark­ing on their jour­neys. And will lose any of the many Dig­i­tal-only chan­nels that they may pre­fer.

At the mo­ment the only ‘re­gional’ ar­eas with any cov­er­age are Can­berra and Dar­win, which have been per­mit­ted DAB+ tri­als, re­newed for sev­eral years, with rel­a­tively low power trans­mit­ters in just one lo­ca­tion for each, and lim­ited to one VHF (for­merly ana­logue TV) chan­nel in­stead of the two used in the of­fi­cial cap­i­tals. So, in a sense, DAB+ is still pretty much a thing of the fu­ture for many, al­though with def­i­nite ben­e­fits right now for (non-Hobart) cap­i­tal city res­i­dents.

And like­wise, in a sense, the Alpine INE-W997D head unit is also a nod to­wards the fu­ture.

RIDE THE WAVES

All this stuff about DAB+ is, of course, a pre­lude to the fact that the Alpine INE-W997D head unit in­cor­po­rates a DAB+ tuner, in ad­di­tion to AM, FM and, in­deed, Long Wave (153 to 281kHz). This last could be use­ful ... if you’re in Europe, North Africa or Mon­go­lia.

The unit will also play the con­tents of your phone (via Blue­tooth), or your iOS de­vice via USB or Blue­tooth, or your non-iOS iPod via USB, or mu­sic stored on USB mem­ory, or mu­sic and video fed via HDMI from your phone or from a DVD player, or mu­sic and video fed via the ana­logue aux­il­iary in­put. What it won’t do is play CDs, lack­ing a trans­port. For that you will need to add the DVE-5300 CD/DVD player ($599) which plugs in via HDMI and is con­trol­lable by the head unit.

The face of the unit is Dou­ble-DIN height, al­though the body of the unit is only sin­gle DIN sized. It’s the 7-inch (178mm) 800 by 480 pixel colour touch screen that re­quired the ex­tra height. A row of but­ton con­trols runs across the bot­tom.

The screen is also re­vers­ing cam­era com­pat­i­ble, and the unit works with steer­ing wheel re­mote con­nec­tions. And of course the unit has full nav­i­ga­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties with a great long list of func­tions, in­clud­ing seven al­ter­na­tive route rec­om­men­da­tions, ad­vanced desti­na­tion searches, a 3D mode with build­ing dis­play for cities, tun­nel mode and maps for off-road­ers. It comes with quar­terly up­dates for three years.

The 4-chan­nel am­pli­fier of­fers the usual 50 watts per chan­nel. There are also 4.2 chan­nel pream­pli­fier out­puts so you can bump up lev­els with ex­ter­nal amps and sub­woofers if

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