A short Alpine 9857 review

alpine 9857.jpg

Most people don’t bother about good car audio.

I mean, I’ve been peering into other cars (Altis-post-purchase-dissonance) and to my horror, they’re mostly using the stock sound system. The 2006 Corolla Altis head unit is terrible – made by Pioneer, its CD playback lacks body and punch, the design is plain boring and I shan’t even go into the crappy stock speakers.

I went to upgrade the audio at Pin Liang today, less than 24 hrs after collecting the new car keys.

I had a choice between the Alpine 9857 and 9856. Both are essentially the same head unit, except that the 9857 costs $150 more for a two-line display. Why pay the premium? Trust me dude, if you’re using an iPod with this baby, you’d hate the one-line display which is really horrible for navigating the iPod menus.

Anyway, this review is for iPod users. Is Alpine’s Full Speed iPod connection really all that it’s cracked up to be?

Well, if you only press the Shuffle Songs key or selected playlists, it’s perfect. Just press one button to shuffle all songs and another to shuffle the album, and you’re rocking.

If you have to search for The Wiggles album among a few hundred, good luck. It scrolls at acceptable speeds, but much much slower than you would with the iPod scroll wheel (which is disabled when hooked up to the Alpine). The only way to access your favourite songs quickly is to create a playlist.

Still, Alpine has the best car iPod solution out there.

The sound quality through the line-out is fantastic, the song access time is tolerable and of course, I no longer have to keep charging the iPod at home. I took further damage by installing Alpine’s remote steering adaptor ($200 for a bloody small adaptor with a few cables), so I could re-use the Altis’ steering buttons (volume, skip song and mode).

If you want to iPod your car, look no further than the 9857/6.