updated 04:30 pm EDT, Thu October 18, 2007
Alpine Blackbird II
Car audio specialist Alpine has just launched the B200 Blackbird II, the second generation of its unique GPS device. The revamp adds Bluetooth to the mapping unit and grants hands-free calling when the Blackbird is used either as a handheld device on foot or cradled in a windshield mount. It can still dock into Alpine's double-sized IVA-W205 head-end unit to provide GPS navigation on a larger 6.5-inch screen without taking away from the receiver's music or video playback functions.
A handful of software features are also new, Alpine says. A Traffic Events List mixes up the conventional approach to traffic warnings by sorting traffic problems by distance rather than just their order on the travel route. Searches for any of the preloaded 6 million points of interest can also be made by keywords rather than just by their names.
Voice direction, a 2D/3D split view, and playback of MP3 and WMA songs on removable SD cards (up to 4GB) translate from the original B100 Blackbird. The B200 should already be available in shops and sells for $750 with built-in maps for all of Canada and the US. The strictly optional W205 car stereo head-end is available for $1,000.