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CES 2012: Alpine Builds More Bridges To Smartphones

Las Vegas – Alpine is building
more bridges between its aftermarket car head units and smartphones, including Android
and BlackBerry smartphones.

The advances come on top of an
expanded selection of OE-look A/V-navigation systems, the latest of which
features the first aftermarket nav system with 8-inch screen.  The $1,499-MAP nav system is packaged with Perfect
FIT (Factory Integration Technology) installation kits that include dash panels
to deliver an OE-look installation in 10 vehicle platforms.

To improve connectivity to
smartphones, the company is offering its first six head units 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. The
feature starts at $189 MAP.

 To go with the feature, Alpine has added
stereo Bluetooth to 10 head units this year, having not offered that feature at
all in the 2011 line.

another change, the company added USB 2.0 technology to all of its USB-equipped
head units, enabling head-unit navigation of music stored on
USB-connected Android phones by song, artist, album, playlist, genre and
composer. In previous Alpine heads, consumers were able to navigate Android
phone-stored music only by file folder and song up/down, said product promotion
manager Steve Brown.

In August, Alpine will offer
updates to its A/V-multimedia head units and A/V-navigation units to enable
head-unit control of such iPhone-stored apps as Netflix, Stitcher, YouTube and
more, Brown added.

Other changes coming to the 2012
line include the expansion of embedded HD Radio tuners to six head units from
last year’s one, all with iTunes Tagging. The A/V and A/V-nav units will
display cover art, album information and other graphics transmitted by HD Radio
stations that transmit the information. 
The head units also feature proprietary Smart Reception Management,
which locks onto an HD2 or HD 3 channels so that, when the digital signal is
lost momentarily, the radio won’t switch automatically to the station’s main HD
channels, Brown said. As with satellite radio, consumers would hear silence
until the HD2 or HD3 signal is picked up again.

In other enhancements, the
company expanded its selection of head units with dedicated port for connecting
SiriusXM’s hideaway universal tuner to five from two. The port will work with
SiriusXM’s planned second-generation
universal tuner, the $79-suggested SXV200 SiriusXM Connect Vehicle Tuner. The
tuner, due in the spring, adds the expanded channel lineup of the broadcaster’s
2.0 satellite service.

Like the original SiriusXM
universal tuner, the new tuner allows for a standardized one-cable connection
to head units from multiple suppliers, simplifying installation and thus
driving down the consumer’s cost of acquisition. Previously, installations
required add-on adapters for different brands of heads and multiple wiring

another line change, Alpine improved its Bluetooth implementation to allow for
Secure Simple Pairing, enabling one-touch first-time pairing with a cellphone,
making it unnecessary to input a PIN code. The company has also added
enhancements to improve Bluetooth hands-free and stereo streaming sound qualit