Heads up, new Head unit

Having got annoyed with my current cheapo Pioneer head unit this week (dancing dolphins but no RDS FFS!) I sat down to find out the best iPhone compatible head unit currently available out there.

I spent hours researching the best head unit, and settled on the Alpine IDA-X305. Having had an Alpine stereo in the past, I know they produce quality units and are worth the price premium over other competitors. The main requirement for me was iPhone 3G compatibility and this unit has purportedly the best interface for searching through and playing your music. Check out the youtube clips of the head unit here and here if you’re interested.

There is also an Alpine IDA-X305S model and the only practical difference I can see with this model is that it can interface with a iPhone app (Pandora) and stream music over a 3G data connection to your head unit. Pandora is a very popular Internet Radio streaming service and I was tempted by this as it wasn’t much more than the X305. However Pandora hasve stopped operating in the UK due to licensing issues, making this addition seemingly redundant over here!

This will be my first stereo that doesn’t actually play CDs (so 1990s apparently!) Given I use my iPhone for music exclusively, I am not bothered by this one bit.

Alpine also produce an add-on unit to allow playing your music and phonecall over Bluetooth which would be cool as you can leave your phone in your pocket where mine resides 99% of the time. However I will decide at a later date if its worth the ~£100 investment.

Searching for the cheapest price for the X305 online brought up a shop a few miles from my house, believe it or not, which came in at £10 cheaper than anywhere else. I popped down and bought the unit from Road Radio, a first for me as I usually order all my gadgets online due to the cheaper prices and convenience, but it felt good to actually go into a shop, buy an expensive item and not get ripped off, or at least pay a premium. After buying the unit I got home and then realised I was overcharged £10!! My fault I suppose for not checking it, but hopefully I will get a refund when I go back in.

Anyway, I ripped out out the old stereo and set about installing the new unit, moaning at the complete lack of space behind the 106 dash. I ran the iPhone USB cable from the back of the unit down behind the dash to the centre console area ready to connect up to a iPhone dock sometime in the future.

First impressions are of a slick product, easy to control on the move and tracks are a cinch to select on the iPhone. The sound quality is also much better than the Pioneer.

Pictures of the install: