Alpine Expands OEM-Look Nav, Adds B'tooth SPP

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 10 2012 - 6:01am




LAS VEGAS — Alpine is launching the industry’s first aftermarket navigation system with 8-inch screen and expanding its selection of Perfect FIT (Factory Integration Technology) installation kits, which deliver an OElook installation for the navigation system.

The company is also improving its head-unit connectivity to smartphones other than the iPhone.

The new nav system is the INE-Z928HD audio/video/ navigation (AVN) DVD-receiver, said to be the first AVN with full 8-inch screen, which offers WVGA resolution. Despite its size, the nav system fits into a standard double-DIN dash opening, the company said. It will be available through retailers and expediters.

The INE-Z928HD is one of several new head units that will be Alpine’s first to combine Bluetooth’s serial port profile (SPP) and Pandora’s communications protocol to wirelessly control a Pandora Internet radio app running on a BlackBerry or Android smartphone. Via Bluetooth SPP, the head controls such Pandora functions as play/pause, skip, thumbs up/down, channel selection and station creation. Bluetooth AVRCP (audio video remote control profile), in contrast, controls only track skip and play/pause.

The nav system is also one of several new head units that navigate music on USB-connected Android phones via song, artist, album, playlist, genre and composer when the phone is placed in mass-storage mode. From the phones, music streams over USB cable in native MP3, WMA and AAC format for decoding.

In previous Alpine heads, consumers could navigate Android phone-stored music only by file folder and song up/down.

The nav system also controls Pandora on a USBconnected iPhone, features built-in HD Radio and connects to the new universal SiriusXM tuner. The HD Radio adds a new Alpine feature called Smart Reception Management, which lets users manage preferences for tuning analog and digital radio signals. For example, one setting lets the head automatically tune to an HD Radio station’s main analog-FM signal when the station’s lower strength digital-only multicast channel drops out.

In the nav system, iTunes tagging is available via the HD Radio tuner and SiriusXM tuner. The INE-Z928HD also features noise-reducing 4-volt preamp outputs and ability to tailor response to individual vehicles.

The navigation platform features 3D maps and free lifetime RDS-based TMC traffic updates from Clear Channel.

To accommodate an 8-inch screen into vehicles, Alpine is launching Perfect FIT installation kits for 10 vehicle platforms that account for more than 2 million new-car sales each year, the company said.

The kits feature vehicle-specific wiring harnesses and installation accessories for direct plug-and-play connection between the nav system and factory wiring. The kits also feature dash panels designed to match the shape, color and texture of a specific vehicle’s dash. The kits are promoted as a better looking alternative to third-party install kits for specific vehicles because they’re designed to fit only one brand of head unit, not multiple brands.

The nav system and install kits will be available in May. Pricing was unavailable.

In 2011, Alpine offered Perfect FIT kits only for the 2010 through 2011 Toyota Siena and 2010 through 2011 Camaro. The kits were designed for use with a pair of Alpine double-DIN A/V-navigation units.

Also new is the CDE-HD138BT CD receiver with HD Radio and Bluetooth SPP, which enables the head unit to wirelessly control the Pandora app in a Bluetooth-connected Android or BlackBerry smartphone. Controlled Pandora functions include station creation and thumbs up/down ratings. The head also features iPod-controlling USB port, HD Radio with Smart Reception Management, and connection to a universal SiriusXM tuner. iTunes Tagging is available through both the HD Radio and SiriusXM tuners. It ships in March at a price that was unavailable.

The company’s most powerful amp ever is the MRXM240, a mono amp rated at 2,400 watts using CEA-2006 specs. The MRX-M240 can be added to factory systems because of its auto-sensing, four-channel speaker-level inputs. It works with Alpine’s RUX-KNOB subwoofer-level controller. It ships in March at a price that wasn’t available.

Also new is the VPX-B104R visual parking assist sensor system (VPASS) and HCE-C104 universal rear camera, expanding Alpine’s driver-assist selection.

The VPX-B104R consists of a black box brain and four sensors that mount on the rear bumper. It integrates with Alpine rear-camera systems to help drivers back up into parking spots. The VPX-B104R provides audible and visual warnings of objects behind the car and next to it. When the rearview image is projected onto an in-dash screen sold separately, visual warnings are displayed as a threecolor grid (green/yellow/red) overlaid onto the parking space lines to indicate the distance between the vehicle and its surrounding objects. When used with the HCEC104 backup camera, the VPASS system automatically switches the camera from normal to ground view when within one foot of an object behind the vehicle.

The new driver-assist products ship in March. Pricing was unavailable.

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