Pros Clean & clear display. Very user friendly. No software to load, connect to the internet for updates. FM Transmitter for your car radio is great feature.
Cons Using the unit as a portable device (not using the fm modulator) volume is not very loud. Very slow to respond to points of interest. As of today (3/6/06) website is not available for updates.
Summary Great unit for the price. Very easy to use. Great battery life. The MP3 player is a nice added feature. There is no disc to load, just plug in the USB cable and download software & map updates directly from the internet.
Very easy to use the 6 million points of interest, just very slow to load.
Built-in traffic receiver is a great feature but only available in large metropolitan areas.
Direction and navigation are very quick to respond but the arrow seems to be a bit slow or located low on the screen but the audible prompts are 100% accurate or right on queue. Connection from the unit to mounting device (cradle) is very small and fragile.
Pros easy to use GPS
Cons lockups, slow interface response for MP3 player
Summary I was in a local audio show looking for something to replace my stock deck in a new car I got and saw this. I bought it instead of a replacement deck.
First off, this is my first portable MP3 player so perhaps some of my complaints are common for the niche.
The GPS is easy to use and understand and quite fun to play with. Although when I am at home it seems to suddenly get confused and have trouble pinpointing my location even though I haven't moved. I have problems with all wireless devices in my area though so this is not surprising. I usually chalk it up to living right outside a military base.
I bought a 2GB SD card for it after I bought it. It does not come with any memory card at all. This is the only thing it seems to be lacking though.
After filling it with freshly ripped MP3s, each in their own folder, I tried using it and found it a bit difficult to manage when all the MP3s from each CD were in seperate directories.
I tried moving them all to the root directory and deleting the folders, but quickly found that the root directory can only contain about 130 objects total (files and folders). Since I had roughly 500 MP3s this seems like it was going to be a pain to sepeate them. Luckily, this limitation only applies to the top level (root) directory. After making a folder names MP3s I was able to put all of them under that 1 folder. I don't know if this is a limitation of the device, the OS (Win CE) or SD memory cards.
The interface for playing MP3s responds a bit slow. with a large number of MP3s it can be slow and cumbersome to get to the song you are looking for. It also seems to list songs only in the order they were added, not alphabetically. The easiest way to scroll through sons I have found is by hitting the far right icon that looks like 2 pieces of paper, the top one of which has the top left corner turned down. This seems more like a fax or printer icon than a file browser icon. Hit that, choose the diectory, then use the double down arrow to scroll through your files. The farther down you go, the slower it responds.
The FM transmitter only works when the device is in it's cradle and plugged in to a cigarette lighter in a vehicle. I suspect some sort of regulation forces it to be that way to keep people from carrying it and hijacking stereos at random.
Updating the software was easy, but took a while. Once the software was downloaded to the device, the installation took at least 20 minutes to complete. I had plenty of CDs to rip though so I didn't mind.
While I was in the store contemplating throwing down the money for this the salesman tried showing me the features of the device and managed to lock it up. the power button refused to respond. We had to remove it from it's cradle, and then, due to a lack of paperclip to hit the tiny reset button (hidden under the antenna, top left side) we pulled the battery. This worked, and I assumed it was a fluke and made a joke about it running on Win CE...
Well, unfortunately... I have managed to lock up my own device twice since purchasing it, although not from just using it like in the store. The first time was after updating the software. After it rebooted itself it hung on the alpine screen and did not continue. Power button was unresponsive. The reset switch worked to fix that one. Second time was when I removed it from the charger. The display was a series of white vertical stripes. The power button was unresponsive again, and the reset button only made the screen go blank as if it shut off. It would not restart until I removed the battery and re-inserted it.
Overall I am enjoying the product. Alot of what I have written seems to be negative, but I just like to explain things in depth so that other people know what to expect. I could create more folders on my SD card and put MP3s in them to essentially create "playlists" and I'm sure that would help with some of the slowness.
Pros nice design and user interface
Cons map is off from road location in many areas and the unit constantly recalculates route
Summary I have used GPS hundreds of times in Hertz rental cars all over the US including the area in which I now live and always found them to be very good overall.
I was very excited to take the new Alpine Blackbird home last weekend and was planning to permanently install it in my truck with the new Alpine head unit/DVD coming out in April 2006.
Unfortunately the GPS doesn't work well in my area. My home and other addresses in my area are off on the units map by several hundred yards. This means the unit always thinks its not on the road or that I am not taking the correct route as I leave and enter my area of Alpharetta, GA - a major suburb just north of Atlanta. The unit has to constantly recalculate the route every minute or so and doesn't find the route until you get on a major road and the road and the unit map line up.
Be careful that the unit covers your area well. It too bad because otherwise the unit and the whole Alpine package is very cool.
I am returning it and selecting a different brand.
Pros ipod look alike......
Cons hard to pull from cradle
Summary thanks to alpine for making this wonderful gadget. the display is very clear and crisp. although the signal is very slow when opening the system, but after the start-up everything will be ok...the prompt warns you ahead of time especially when driving on the freeways. the looks are 10 out of 10!!! it looks like an ipod because of it's click wheel style controls. as a bonus this blackbird plays mp3 w/c can be played thru your car's head unit. the sound is louder when you put the gps on the included dock. plug the unit to your usb and you're ready to go w/ any updates...one more thing i liked is that it has an external battery w/c can be easily replaced. i have to make a comment on other reviews saying that the signal is slow when re-routing..yes, the voice prompt is a bit slow but notice that the TEXT on the display is already giving you the command before the voice command says so..i really believe that this is a great unit for the price...
Pros Alpine has a great name, this GPS looks great but I have had multiple problems since I have purchased it as a backup GPS.
Cons Touch Screen has failed twice and was replaced both times by dealer who sold it to me. Screen lacks daylight readability and battery life is extremely short compared to other units on the market. Unit has major problems
Summary Touch Screen has failed twice and was replaced both times by dealer who sold it to me. Screen lacks daylight readability and battery life is extremely short compared to other units on the market. Unit has constant problems turning on. Would Not recommend or purchase another model made by the same manufacturer.