"Very good receiver overall, but with some hidden deficiencies"3.5 starson by Badgerater
Pros: Very easy to use, good sound, can expand capabilities as needed (HD, iPod, Bluetooth, Satellite, aux inputs)
Cons: Dimmer control, glare masks display, radio song/artist information, poor reception on some stations, display colors, expensive add-ons
Summary: This is a very good receiver overall. I chose it mainly for its very easy-to-use interface, good sound quality, the abundance of features, support of auxiliary equipment, and optional upgrades to HD, iPod, Bluetooth, AUX, etc.)
However, it has some deficiencies that keep bugging me. I researched the unit thoroughly before buying, including the owner's manual, but some things you just don't discover until you actually use it.
1) Display Dimmer - the display dimmer has two settings: Auto and Manual. With Auto, the display is bright when your car's headlights are off, and it is dim when your car's headlights are on. With Manual, the display is always dim. This is a problem for me during daylight because I drive with my headlights on, for safety. There is no way with headlights on to have a bright display. The display is difficult to read in daylight when it is dim. I expected the Maunual setting to allow me to adjust the brightness using the car's dashboard lights dimmer, but it doesn't. I haven't tried unplugging the dimmer control cable yet to see whether it defaults to bright.
2) Display Glare - the display has a very shiny, clear cover. In daylight the glare makes it very difficult to see the display. Two potential solutions: get tinted windows, or use one of those clear sheets that protect touchscreen PDA displays- some are glare resistant.
3) FM Radio Artist/Song Information - the owner's manual shows the 9885 is capable of displaying this information for FM stations, but it doesn't in my area. All of my other (non-HD) car radios do. Alpine chose not to support the RDS format used in my area (that's how the Alpine rep explained it anyway)
4) Poor Quality Sound for a Couple of Stations - for some reason, a couple of stations in my area, including my favorite of course, don't come in well with the 9885 (lots of static). They come in great with other car radios, and with the factory radio I replaced. This stumped tech support, whose only suggestion was to install a second ground wire; which I haven't tried yet.
5) Display Colors - I almost didn't buy the 9885 because of the display colors, and they still bother me. The backlit buttons are red, lighted buttons can be set to blue or red, and the biolight display is light green. Red-Blue-Green, or Red-Green just aren't visually appealing and they don't match my car's other dash lights, or fit the interior color. Head units from other brands give you more color options (up to 7600 colors).
With these problems fixed, I would rate it near 10.
6) Expensive Add-Ons: I found that adding HD, iPod, Satellite, or Bluetooth capabilities later will be expensive relative to the price of the base unit, especially when you include installation charges. I like the flexibility, but will probably have to forego the HD upgrade due to cost.