Alpine IVA-W205: multimedia player, Blackbird nest

Alpine unveils the IVA-W205 at CES 2007

Bye bye Blackbird Alpine Electronics

The honeymoon of portable and in-dash navigation devices continues here at CES 2007. On Sunday, we brought you news of Eclipse's AVN2210p , and today we had a close-up of Alpine's IVA-W205, which combines with the Blackbird PMD B200 portable GPS unit in a unique way. Instead of requiring drivers to attach the portable unit to the front of the installed cradle, (as per the Eclipse unit), the IVA-W205 actually swallows the portable navigation unit, with the latter slotting in cartridge-like behind the installed unit's fold-up screen. Also new on the PMD B200 is its built-in, Bluetooth, hands-free, calling interface, which has the ability to wirelessly import phone books from cell phones and other mobile devices.

With the Blackbird in place, all its maps, navigation information, and controls are transferred to the IVA-W205 bigger, 6.5-inch touch-screen display. In addition to its navigation capabilities, the IVA-W205 is a versatile multimedia player in its own right: it has all of the media playback capabilities of the IVA-W200 that we reviewed a couple of months ago (DVD video, CD, WMA, MP3; add-on modules for iPod, satellite and HD radio), plus a much-needed update to its add-on Bluetooth module, and some new digital audio capabilities that we have not seen anywhere else.

The most impressive of these is a translator module that connects the head unit to a separate Sirius satellite radio player. With the touch screen hooked up to Sirius, drivers can customize Sirius and music- and sports content down to individual artists and teams. For example, the IVA-W205 can be configured to search all Sirius channels for a user's favorite artist, and to automatically play that music as it is broadcast live. The IVA-W205 will go on sale in May with a price tag of around $1000, excluding the price of the Blackbird, which is sold separately.

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