Review: Alpine's iLX-107 is the first, and best, aftermarket wireless CarPlay receiver

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 51
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,307member
    polymnia said:

    Can it use the microphone my car already has installed, I wonder?

    Price is a little steep, but if I was buying a new car that just lacked car play, I could see it as an investment.

    Price depends on what your alternatives are. 

    Im trying to keep myself away from car dealerships right now. I have a paid off, reliable 2011 vehicle. Still, I keep drooling over many of the new vehicles and their tech. 

    For the cost of a couple car payments, I could stave off my impulse to buy a new vehicle for another few years, hopefully. 
    My belief is that car tech is just now beginning to evolve...   Mostly it's overly expensive, tentative and/or bleeding edge type stuff.  I think waiting a few years (3-5 or so) will see a blossoming of the technology and you'll get a lot more for a lot less.   Putting a lot of money into a car with the latest tech right now will see you dissapointed and aching for more...
    ...  A 3-4 year old used vehicle with ApplePlay added on will get you most of today's tech without busting the bank and leave you open for real tech products when they become available.
    mdriftmeyer
  • Reply 22 of 51
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,307member
    vmarks said:
    squuiid said:
    Capacitive or resistive screen?
    An important detail AppleInsider.
    Most important when you're in the winter, wearing gloves, and want the screen to work. I agree. 7" VGA display with capacitive touch screen.
    Doesn't that depend on the gloves?    There are those that keep your fingers toasty warm but still work with capacitive screens.
  • Reply 23 of 51
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 685editor
    vmarks said:
    squuiid said:
    Capacitive or resistive screen?
    An important detail AppleInsider.
    Most important when you're in the winter, wearing gloves, and want the screen to work. I agree. 7" VGA display with capacitive touch screen.
    Doesn't that depend on the gloves?    There are those that keep your fingers toasty warm but still work with capacitive screens.
    It does a bit - but I have never been very satisfied with those gloves, and we start going down a rabbit hole of caveats. 

    Other CarPlay units we've reviewed do have resistive screens that are surprisingly responsive. I'm not fussed about having to have capacitive.
  • Reply 24 of 51
    MacPro said:
    You lost me at the price.
    I came this close to taking my Jeep Grand Cherokee to an audio specialist to install something like this and as you say just couldn't justify it in the end.  I went home and found an old CD/DVD burner I'd taken out of one of my MacBook Pros years ago and rigged it up with USB to my Mac Pro and figured out how to burn CDs again (seriously I almost forgotten not to mention I had to buy some blanks first) and made a load of CDs of my favorite music from iTunes.  Basking in that feeling it was still the 90's again I also learned how to use the 6 CD changer I haven't used on the Jeep in years.  I had a fun day, Eagles high volume and my iPhone for directions, total cost $9 for the CDs.  :)
    Haha...made me smile. That's like finding 8 $100 dollar bills on the ground! :) Good job. I remember 'coveting' 6 CD changers when they first came out. :)

    Seriously though, it's probably best to buy a car with CarPlay already installed (if you can). I hope to do that soon.

    Best
  • Reply 25 of 51
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 685editor
    MacPro said:
    You lost me at the price.
    I came this close to taking my Jeep Grand Cherokee to an audio specialist to install something like this and as you say just couldn't justify it in the end.  I went home and found an old CD/DVD burner I'd taken out of one of my MacBook Pros years ago and rigged it up with USB to my Mac Pro and figured out how to burn CDs again (seriously I almost forgotten not to mention I had to buy some blanks first) and made a load of CDs of my favorite music from iTunes.  Basking in that feeling it was still the 90's again I also learned how to use the 6 CD changer I haven't used on the Jeep in years.  I had a fun day, Eagles high volume and my iPhone for directions, total cost $9 for the CDs.  :)
    Haha...made me smile. That's like finding 8 $100 dollar bills on the ground! :) Good job. I remember 'coveting' 6 CD changers when they first came out. :)

    Seriously though, it's probably best to buy a car with CarPlay already installed (if you can). I hope to do that soon.

    Best
    The 6 CD changer that came in my car has a reputation for failing. It's awesome if you like burning CDs and yours works well, but I think a reliable used car with aftermarket CarPlay is really a good decision. That isn't to say that the very most expensive CarPlay solution is the right one for everyone, but some form of CarPlay could be. 

    The market is becoming one where there's a solution at all ends of the price range, with the lowest being in the 300s and the highest in the 1000s. That's not accessible to everyone yet, but it's absolutely cheaper than a new car. 

    Depending on your car and what's required for wiring, you don't need an audio specialist if you can handle a screwdriver and plugging in cables. The issue here is, the adapter costs do add up. For a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee (I guessed.) the datalink adapter is 25, the stereo harness adapter is 59, and the dash kit is 10, but looks to be a single DIN, so that would mean going to the Pioneer single DIN CarPlay unit. If you've got a double DIN unit, it's easier with more options available to you. Those prices are Crutchfield prices, and I usually shop around to find them a little cheaper. Crutchfield is good if you need the support when you're installing. If you buy parts from them, they will stay on the phone and talk you through the whole install. 
  • Reply 26 of 51
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,529member
    djsherly said:
    vmarks said:
    djsherly said:
    Yes, kind expensive but also a bit bummed that it doesn't have a rotary volume control. 
    That would make the screen smaller. If you have steering wheel controls, make the screen as big as possible and forget the rotary volume knob.
    Maybe I'm old school but I'd rather be able to reach for something tactile and use it, rather than have to look for and locate a button, taking concentration off the road. As it happens I replaced the unit in my VW with the RCD330 which has knobs (two in fact). It's something I prefer and I'm just expressing that view.


    I tend to agree, I know the trend is voice commands, I do tend to use the steering wheel controls these days. However, I always ask people are they buying a car to be entertained or to drive. I personally want my car as simple as possible and one that does not required me to think about how to get the car to do what I want, like how to change the radio station. I drive my car using muscle memory, it does not requirement me to think about what I need to do. Thus the reason I am not a distracted driver.

    Here is an example of the worst implementation on these systems I have seen lately. A friend bought a 2017 Volvo, took it in for some servicing, nothing major, when he picked up the car the SA tells him they need to spend some time with him to explained what changed. The car had a firmware update, and it change the UI on the touch screen. The lay out was completely different. My friend drove the car for about 6 months and was just getting comfortable with the UI and Volvo changed it completely. Now he can not figure where the controls are for various things. His biggest complain and it has apple car play, it not easy to switch between car play and the Volvo interface when he was to change something like climate control. Also the taking phone call in and out of car play behave differently.

    I personally think Apple's car project it about the control system in the car than it about making a physical car. Making a car go down the road has been solves, they system around the car are a mess.

  • Reply 27 of 51
    What's the big deal about wireless CarPlay anyhow? The phone has to be plugged in for charging anyway, unless you want a dead phone after your commute. 

    The price for the ilx is terrible. No physical knobs make you rely on their crappy touch screen negating getting a nice ergonomic stereo that's safer to use than just your phone plugged in. 

    Plus a $600 head unit with 14 watts per channel? No. Just no. Typical Sony cramming in features a smart
    phone user doesn't need (gps, cam etc) only to cheat you on the wattage and hope you buy dedicated amps. 

    Id never buy a Sony because of this nonsense. 
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 28 of 51
    GG1GG1 Posts: 243member
    Id never buy a Sony because of this nonsense. 
    It's an Alpine, but I agree that 14 W is pretty low for $600.

    The article doesn't mention it, but the unit can accommodate Alpine camera modules (if your car doesn't already have cameras) for front/sides/rear camera images. So if you have an older car (I have a 1996) and can fit a double-DIN chassis, this unit can "modernize" older cars with today's features at a steep price (the camera modules are expensive).
    mdriftmeyerratsg
  • Reply 29 of 51
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,092member
    djsherly said:
    Maybe I'm old school but I'd rather be able to reach for something tactile and use it, rather than have to look for and locate a button, taking concentration off the road. As it happens I replaced the unit in my VW with the RCD330 which has knobs (two in fact). It's something I prefer and I'm just expressing that view.
    Yea, I prefer physical volume control (and a few other things) as well, and a rotary knob is a lot nicer than up/down buttons. I use my steering wheel buttons some, but still prefer the knob on my factory radio.

    This is a lot of money, and that doesn't include that the install would likely be a bit of a nightmare and I think impact other dashboard aspects like the climate control system. (If I've been reading correctly). I think it's a no-go for me. :(

    But, I just wish Apple would make non-CarPlay better! I don't even really want to leave my WiFi and BT on, and often plug into power anyway unless it's a super-short trip. It would be nice to have the display up on the dash, but what I'd really like is just the ability for it to properly route audio and answer/hang-up phone calls. Why is it that after years of Siri, it still can't do something so basic?
  • Reply 30 of 51
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,092member
    maestro64 said:
    I tend to agree, I know the trend is voice commands, I do tend to use the steering wheel controls these days. However, I always ask people are they buying a car to be entertained or to drive. I personally want my car as simple as possible and one that does not required me to think about how to get the car to do what I want, like how to change the radio station. I drive my car using muscle memory, it does not requirement me to think about what I need to do. Thus the reason I am not a distracted driver.
    I worry quite a bit about this actually. People can't seem to think any longer, and just try to go by what's legal/illegal. So, trying to eat some french-fries, holding a phone to your ear, or changing podcasts at a traffic light is illegal, but trying to fumble with all this super-akward 'hands-free' stuff is somehow better? Or fiddling with a complex UI on a big screen on your dashboard is legal?

    Yes, once you get the basic physical controls of your car down, you often don't even have to look. You just reach and adjust... maybe with a super-slight glance. Messing with screen UIs takes a ton more attention away from the road. And, as I said in the previous post, the car-friendliness of Siri is absolutely horrible. It only seems useful for someone walking or being a party novelty these days. Why the heck can't it tell you who's calling, answer or decline via voice command in speaker-phone mode, and voice-command hang-up?

    spliff monkey said:
    Plus a $600 head unit with 14 watts per channel? No. Just no. Typical Sony cramming in features a smart
    phone user doesn't need (gps, cam etc) only to cheat you on the wattage and hope you buy dedicated amps. 
    For sure, I already have a 10-speaker HK system with factory amps. I suppose this is an upgrade for super-basic factory units, but I guess they figure you're going external for anything beyond (which ups the cost even more). I think it's a no-go for my current vehicle, which is *only* 10 years old w/ about 200k miles on it... so it's just getting broke in. :)
  • Reply 31 of 51
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,327member
    No physical volume controls, no buy. No desire to look around in order to quickly turn volume down. 

    Also I had two Alpine AppRadios and the software sucked bad. Good updates required new hardware. I would never trust them again.
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 32 of 51
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 908member
    polymnia said:

    Can it use the microphone my car already has installed, I wonder?

    Price is a little steep, but if I was buying a new car that just lacked car play, I could see it as an investment.

    Price depends on what your alternatives are. 

    Im trying to keep myself away from car dealerships right now. I have a paid off, reliable 2011 vehicle. Still, I keep drooling over many of the new vehicles and their tech. 

    For the cost of a couple car payments, I could stave off my impulse to buy a new vehicle for another few years, hopefully. 
    My belief is that car tech is just now beginning to evolve...   Mostly it's overly expensive, tentative and/or bleeding edge type stuff.  I think waiting a few years (3-5 or so) will see a blossoming of the technology and you'll get a lot more for a lot less.   Putting a lot of money into a car with the latest tech right now will see you dissapointed and aching for more...
    ...  A 3-4 year old used vehicle with ApplePlay added on will get you most of today's tech without busting the bank and leave you open for real tech products when they become available.
    That's my plan.
  • Reply 33 of 51
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 685editor
    What's the big deal about wireless CarPlay anyhow? The phone has to be plugged in for charging anyway, unless you want a dead phone after your commute. 

    The price for the ilx is terrible. No physical knobs make you rely on their crappy touch screen negating getting a nice ergonomic stereo that's safer to use than just your phone plugged in. 

    Plus a $600 head unit with 14 watts per channel? No. Just no. Typical Sony cramming in features a smart
    phone user doesn't need (gps, cam etc) only to cheat you on the wattage and hope you buy dedicated amps. 

    Id never buy a Sony because of this nonsense. 
    The battery drain is really small. If you were on an 8 hour road trip you might get out and find it drained, but normal commutes? It will be fine. 

    No physical knobs is a benefit, not a negative thing. 

    For normal listening in car, the wattage turns out to be ok. We drove for almost a year with the ILX-007 (previous model) in a car with no amplifiers.
  • Reply 34 of 51
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 685editor
    GG1 said:
    Id never buy a Sony because of this nonsense. 
    It's an Alpine, but I agree that 14 W is pretty low for $600.

    The article doesn't mention it, but the unit can accommodate Alpine camera modules (if your car doesn't already have cameras) for front/sides/rear camera images. So if you have an older car (I have a 1996) and can fit a double-DIN chassis, this unit can "modernize" older cars with today's features at a steep price (the camera modules are expensive).
    The article DOES mention it! It specifically calls out the Alpine accessory that allows the unit to control front / side / rear cameras. From the article: "The Alpine does have the interesting ability to use an accessory multi-camera kit (KCX-C250MC) that allows for side, front and rear camera input. The ILX-107 can display all of those inputs at the same time, or switch between them in the user interface when using the multi-camera accessory."
  • Reply 35 of 51
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 685editor
    No physical volume controls, no buy. No desire to look around in order to quickly turn volume down. 

    Also I had two Alpine AppRadios and the software sucked bad. Good updates required new hardware. I would never trust them again.
    Alpine doesn't make an AppRadio. AppRadio is Pioneer's brand.

    No physical volume controls means use steering wheel controls. The Alpine's are touch capacitive sense and always in the same place on the radio. You don't have to look, because they're always in the same place. 

    If your car doesn't have steering wheel controls, then maybe you have a point. 
  • Reply 36 of 51
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,327member
    vmarks said:
    nchia said:
    I have the one prior to Wireless CarPlay, but I suspect my observations are still valid.

    1) microphone - the cable is very long. mine is installed near the rear view mirror on the driver's side, with the clip tucked under the trim against the windscreen, not on the sun visor. The cable itself follows under the trim, down the A pillar then reappears behind the dash to go into the back of the head unit. I have absolutely no idea if Lester's placement is intentionally obtuse, of he really has no idea how it's meant to be installed.

    2) rear camera markers - why oh why make them like witch's hats?

    3) unit's own Home screen - In my car where I've installed this unit, I ended up losing all of my car's real clocks, but rather than embracing the unit's home screen, Alpine offers a very lacklustre and small, digital clock on the top middle. I just wished Alpine would release a firmware update to give us a nice looking, larger, user selectable digital or analog (looking) clock!

    3a) the unit does not sync with your iPhone's clock - while your iPhone is attached, it uses the iPhone's time. Otherwise you set it manually. It doesn't just sync and remember the time from the iPhone...

    squuiid said:
    Capacitive or resistive screen?
    An important detail AppleInsider.
    Capacitive. But scrolling lists could still annoyingly register as a tap instead.

    djsherly said:
    Maybe I'm old school but I'd rather be able to reach for something tactile and use it, rather than have to look for and locate a button, taking concentration off the road. As it happens I replaced the unit in my VW with the RCD330 which has knobs (two in fact). It's something I prefer and I'm just expressing that view.
    In some ways while Alpine's design is limited but may be to your benefit. There are only six hardware buttons on the unit, all down the bottom - the pair to the left third controls volume down/up, the middle pair is the Siri and unit's own Home button. The pair to the right third is select left and right.

    So you could in a way easily navigate your finger to the above regions slightly harder then trying to hit a rotating knob. The Alpine of course supports steering wheel controls, which to me trumps knobs.
    Mic placement: 

    My A pillar is covered in fabric from the factory. Adhesive will not stick to it. Placing it on the dash pointed at me or on the visor is the closest acceptable placement. Placing it on the dash where the A pillar meets is further from my head, so my placement is the optimal placement. (Visor placements are stupid if you use the visor - and I do.) Placing it near the rear view mirror in the center and pointed at the driver would be ok, but it's still a stupidly large mic clip for the job, and it wouldn't be any closer to my head - the console where I have the mic placed is the same distance from my head as the mirror placement you describe. I coil up the excess cable, zip tie it, and leave it behind the dash.
    FYI an installer I’ve used in the last knew how to pop open the pillar and snake the mic wire thru it to the top near the interior roof. Worked well. 
  • Reply 37 of 51
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,327member
    vmarks said:
    No physical volume controls, no buy. No desire to look around in order to quickly turn volume down. 

    Also I had two Alpine AppRadios and the software sucked bad. Good updates required new hardware. I would never trust them again.
    Alpine doesn't make an AppRadio. AppRadio is Pioneer's brand.

    No physical volume controls means use steering wheel controls. The Alpine's are touch capacitive sense and always in the same place on the radio. You don't have to look, because they're always in the same place. 

    If your car doesn't have steering wheel controls, then maybe you have a point. 
    Yes that’s right, the AppRadios were Pioneer. Lousy software, maybe Alpines is better. 

    Seeing as older cars need head unit upgrades, it’s a completely normal situation not to have steering wheel controls. Mine didn’t. 

    It it is still impossible to reach out and touch touch-based volumes controls and know whether you’ve 1) hit the target, and 2) whether you’ve hit up or down, short or trial and error. So without a doubt non-physical buttons for volume suck more than physical buttons which have no such deficiencies, and I’d never buy a head unit with them. 
    cgWerks
  • Reply 38 of 51
    GG1GG1 Posts: 243member
    vmarks said:
    GG1 said:
    It's an Alpine, but I agree that 14 W is pretty low for $600.

    The article doesn't mention it, but the unit can accommodate Alpine camera modules (if your car doesn't already have cameras) for front/sides/rear camera images. So if you have an older car (I have a 1996) and can fit a double-DIN chassis, this unit can "modernize" older cars with today's features at a steep price (the camera modules are expensive).
    The article DOES mention it! It specifically calls out the Alpine accessory that allows the unit to control front / side / rear cameras. From the article: "The Alpine does have the interesting ability to use an accessory multi-camera kit (KCX-C250MC) that allows for side, front and rear camera input. The ILX-107 can display all of those inputs at the same time, or switch between them in the user interface when using the multi-camera accessory."
    True. I should have been more clear. With cars lacking inbuilt cameras, Alpine has some (pricey) camera options.

    One option: HCE-C125 ($148 on Amazon)

    Another option: HCE-257FD ($350 on Crutchfield)

    The KCX-C250MC (Crutchfield $150) is the interface, which may be all you need if your car already has cameras.

    ratsg
  • Reply 39 of 51
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,092member
    StrangeDays said:It it is still impossible to reach out and touch touch-based volumes controls and know whether you’ve 1) hit the target, and 2) whether you’ve hit up or down, short or trial and error. So without a doubt non-physical buttons for volume suck more than physical buttons which have no such deficiencies, and I’d never buy a head unit with them. 
    You and Victor are probably arguing separate advantages though... they are better in terms of reliability (though I've never had a physical car volume knob go bad) but aren't as good in terms of driver UI/UX.
  • Reply 40 of 51
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 685editor
    vmarks said:
    nchia said:
    I have the one prior to Wireless CarPlay, but I suspect my observations are still valid.

    1) microphone - the cable is very long. mine is installed near the rear view mirror on the driver's side, with the clip tucked under the trim against the windscreen, not on the sun visor. The cable itself follows under the trim, down the A pillar then reappears behind the dash to go into the back of the head unit. I have absolutely no idea if Lester's placement is intentionally obtuse, of he really has no idea how it's meant to be installed.

    2) rear camera markers - why oh why make them like witch's hats?

    3) unit's own Home screen - In my car where I've installed this unit, I ended up losing all of my car's real clocks, but rather than embracing the unit's home screen, Alpine offers a very lacklustre and small, digital clock on the top middle. I just wished Alpine would release a firmware update to give us a nice looking, larger, user selectable digital or analog (looking) clock!

    3a) the unit does not sync with your iPhone's clock - while your iPhone is attached, it uses the iPhone's time. Otherwise you set it manually. It doesn't just sync and remember the time from the iPhone...

    squuiid said:
    Capacitive or resistive screen?
    An important detail AppleInsider.
    Capacitive. But scrolling lists could still annoyingly register as a tap instead.

    djsherly said:
    Maybe I'm old school but I'd rather be able to reach for something tactile and use it, rather than have to look for and locate a button, taking concentration off the road. As it happens I replaced the unit in my VW with the RCD330 which has knobs (two in fact). It's something I prefer and I'm just expressing that view.
    In some ways while Alpine's design is limited but may be to your benefit. There are only six hardware buttons on the unit, all down the bottom - the pair to the left third controls volume down/up, the middle pair is the Siri and unit's own Home button. The pair to the right third is select left and right.

    So you could in a way easily navigate your finger to the above regions slightly harder then trying to hit a rotating knob. The Alpine of course supports steering wheel controls, which to me trumps knobs.
    Mic placement: 

    My A pillar is covered in fabric from the factory. Adhesive will not stick to it. Placing it on the dash pointed at me or on the visor is the closest acceptable placement. Placing it on the dash where the A pillar meets is further from my head, so my placement is the optimal placement. (Visor placements are stupid if you use the visor - and I do.) Placing it near the rear view mirror in the center and pointed at the driver would be ok, but it's still a stupidly large mic clip for the job, and it wouldn't be any closer to my head - the console where I have the mic placed is the same distance from my head as the mirror placement you describe. I coil up the excess cable, zip tie it, and leave it behind the dash.
    FYI an installer I’ve used in the last knew how to pop open the pillar and snake the mic wire thru it to the top near the interior roof. Worked well. 
    The A-Pillar is cloth covered. The roof is cloth covered. I could remove the A-Pillar cover to run the wire, but there's no point in placing it there. Sticking it to the window at the top corner is further from my head than the dash where I've located it. 
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