As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" That seems to be the approach taken by Alpine Electronics when designing its new iDA-X305 digital media receiver.
Based on the already impressive iDA-X100 receiver, the X305 keeps the same single-DIN size, rotary encoder-based interface, and lightning quick browsing of digital media while adding iPhone support and a few more watts of power to boot.
On the surface, the X305 also receives a visual refresh with a new matte-finish faceplate that blends better with many vehicles' dash panels and a brushed metal control knob that adds a bit of bling. Compact disc aficionados need not apply as the iDA-X305 also continues the X100's formula of omitting a CD-slot and moving parts in favor of a purely USB-based input scheme.
The most prominent aspect of the X305's interface is the control knob that sits just left of its center. Alpine calls this the Double-Action Encoder, for reasons we'll mention below. The knob can be twisted to perform such actions as adjusting the volume or scrubbing through menu options and media.
Selections are made by pressing the large Enter button in the center of the knob. Reversing through menus is accomplished by hitting the back button to the left of the knob.
Pressing in on the outer ring of the encoder and twisting activates the second action in the Double-Action namesake: QuickSearch. People can chose between either Percentage search (which jumps to a specific part of a list in 10 percent increments) or Alphabet search (which jumps through a list in order of initial letter). Search modes are easily chosen with a tap of the F button between the knob and the screen, and allow for quick navigation of large digital media libraries.
To the right of the control knob is the 2.2-inch, full-color TFT display. Here you'll find iPod album artwork and menu information. The entire faceplate is backlit in cool blue light, but can be changed to red if that better suits your ride's color scheme.
The left side of the faceplate is home to additional buttons for skipping tracks, pausing playback, and power/selecting audio source. A phone button answers incoming calls or activates voice-activated dialing when the iDA-X305 is paired with the Alpine KCE-400BT Bluetooth hands-free module. For security purposes, the iDA-X305 features a partially removable faceplate, so you can take everything except the 2.2-inch screen with you when you leave your car.