Users interested in adding Apple CarPlay to their car's dashboard have a new choice outside of Pioneer's NEX lineup with the announcement of Alpine's newest multimedia receiver. The new Alpine iLX-007 (no, not) is the latest to the market to support and display Apple's infotainment and apps interface when one of the iPhone 5 or 6 variants running the latest version of iOS is connected via a Lightning cable. Once connected, the driver will be able to access, via voice and with limited touch commands, Apple Maps navigation, phone calls and text messaging, and iTunes Music, Radio and podcasts.
Alpine's new A/V receiver is built around a 7-inch capacitive touch screen with a WVGA resolution, but you'll mostly be interacting with Siri Eyes-Free and Apple CarPlay via its voice-activated controls. Functionality for the CarPlay portion of the should operate identically to the systems that we've seen previously, with a heavy emphasis on voice entry and input. Incoming text messages, for example, are read aloud by Siri rather than displayed on the screen and can be responded to without taking a hand off of the steering wheel or eyes off of the road.
The iLX-007 also features a trio of 2V preamp outputs, a single auxiliary input, and an input for a rear view camera system. Unique software includes Alpine's MediaXpander technology that claims to improve and restore some of the audio quality lost during the compression of digital media filess, and the Alpine TuneIt App which allows the driver to further customize the iLX-007's audio characteristics for their particular vehicle.
Alpine's entry into the budding but small field of CarPlay receivers will retail at a suggested price of $800. Without on-board navigation software and (judging the lack of an "eject" button on the lower bezel) likely also lacking an optical disk drive, this receiver finds itself in most direct competition with Pioneer's $700 AVH-4000NEX or the upcoming $600. Because the CarPlay experience is, by design, identical on every receiver that supports it, the price tag will likely be the only thing that differentiates these receivers for the casual iPhone user only interested in Apple's interface. I expect this generation of the car stereo wars to boil down to a price battle with deep discounts on the horizon.