Well Here is my review for this new unit.
The unit has a very nice design, with easy to operate controls, a wonderful BIO light display which is nice and bright. Can even be seen very will on a sunny day. The constuction of the unit is very nice. If you have an AI-Net head unit with MMDriver support, you can control it from your head unit as well. If not the unit can be used in a stand alone mode with any head unit.
Now here are the problems with this unit and there are many.
The drive uses USB 1.1 to transfer you music files from your computer. With this interface transfering 11GB to the drive will take 14 HOURS 15GB is about 18. This is due to the restricted speed of USB 1.1 but also because ther drive has a custome format on it that can only be read from the MMDriver software and the Units Indash housing. It does not just connect to the computer as a regular HD. Alpine's MMDriver software is needed no if and but or's about it and boy does it ****.
The drive will have to be REGISTERED to your computer the first time you use it. This is so the drive will be keyed to your computer and ONLY that computer. This is to prevent copying the data from the drive to another computer. RIAA anyone
If you have your MP3's all ready stored on you PC adding them to MMDriver's datebase is very simple. Tthe actual software is fairly easy to use. you can even rip your CD's with the MMDrive software. The probem is if you write say 10 GBs to the drive and you want to add to it you have a 50/50% shot at being successful and it will take you 4 to 5 hours to know if you will be because when you hook the drive up to the computer and run the software, MMDriver needs to do a Music Library Update wich checks the Drive's songs against the computers songs in MMDrivers DB. Like i said it take 4 to 5 hous for this check to happen. After it is done you can go add more music and choose to write it to the drive. Now here is the fun part, if you are lucky it will write the songs and everything will be ok. But most of the time the software somehow looses connection with the drive and tell you to disconnect the drive and reconnect it so I do and reconnect it and the software starts the whole Music Libray Update again and you have to wait another 4 to 5 hours. If you want to you can uninstall the software and remove all of the registry keys from the computer and reinstall it and re-register the drive, but doing this will erase the drive and you will have to wait the full 14-18 hours to write all the songs all over again. Not very fun.
After everything is written to the drive and you put it in the car now you will have to deal with a fee more annoying issues. It takes the system about 3 1/2 minutes to read the database of songs from the drive before it will play anything. All songs are played Alphabetically even if you choose an Album to play. The system ignores the Track field in the IDTags. Alpine tech tells me to make a playlist for each album so it can play them in the correct order. I have almost 200 CD's on my drive that is a lot of work for something that can be done automatically if they just looked at the track field of the IDTag Try listening to a album you know very well that has songs that run into each other in Alpha order with 30 second gaps between songs and tell me how happy you would be. And if you do make a playlist. The gaps are STILL there.
There also is a feature called Music DJ in this unit that gives you 10 Music types to choose from i.e Rock, Metal, etc. It will anounce things between songs with music etc like a radio but iafter it plays the little announcement you have to was up to 30 seconds for it to find a song. Kind of a novel feature if the unit was faster at finding songs.
Also if you have lots of songs written to the drive say 10GB or so it will take the unit any where from 2 to 35 seconds to find the song. it all depends on where in the database the song is listed. I was told by Alpine tech that I can speed the unit up if I don't put so many songs on the drive. they said to put about 5GB on and it will perform much better. IT IS SOLD AS A 16GB DRIVE NOT A 5GB DRIVE.
So Alpine's Tech support now knows of these problems but as of right now they are more interested in CES than working to resolve the problems. They said they can replicate these issues in their lab and have contacted Japan to help them with these issues. but I have to wait until after CES for them to look into it. I was asked to sit tight until the begining of MARCH.
I am going to be nice and wait as they asked and see what they come up with. I will keep you all posted on any progress from them. If they can resolve any of these things I will send it back to them and get a NEO HD Jukebox instead. i will keep you posted.