Well fitted Alpines' latest ipod head unit today in the vectra c sri (53 plate) and all went smoothly! I removed the existing siemens double din unit, then removed the old cage. Bought vauxhall's facia adaptor kit which includes a harness to adapt the existing 3 block ISO connector to separate standard iso plugs (and also enables you to swap the yellow ignition switched and red constant 12V cables which is necessary on the alpine unit). Plugged this into the existing blue connector and then plugged in alpines harness. Managed to tuck the bundle of connectors and wiring behind the plastic housing after removing the double din cage. I decided to keep the ipod in the glove box, so removed the glove box and drilled a hole close to the illumination lamp to feed the lengthy ipod docking cable through. Replaced glovebox and routed ipod cable to the rear of the headunit where it locks into a captive socket. The new facia adaptor locks snugly into the double din housing and provides a spare but useless storage hole beneath the radio. Alpine supply a short metal cage which clicks nicely into the facia adaptor and then its just a matter of sliding the headunit into position and locking the front pins on to the cage. The bundle of cables behind the head unit is sufficient to hold the head unit securely in place, just as well because it is not possible to use the supplied hex bolt to secure the rear of the unit... you could drill the vecta's plastic cage but there's metal body fittings very close behind!
Finally fit the gunmetal facia surround over the front edge of the cage and everything looks clean and tidy!
I did attempt to connect the instrument cluster backlight dimming connection of the alpine to the vectra's harness (orange wire), but without success.. it just kept the display continually dimmed, regardless of the headlights on or off.. so left it off.
The first thing that struck me when I switched on was the crisp clean audio quality. Even the radio sounds digital, squeaky clean and tight! Another thing is the audio output, this unit pumps out 4x50W so considerably more than the standard factory fit. I'm still using the stock speakers which arent that bad at all, but I guess they are not rated to 50W so I had better keep the volume levels under control!
Anyway all the usual radio and cd features work as you would expected on any modern headunit, of particular interest was the extended RDS text showing radio programme information as well as just the usual channel signature. Neat!
There's bass and treble controls as you would expect, but a nice feature is that for bass you can choose a centre frequency for boost/cut from 60Hz, 80Hz, 100Hz and 120Hz. You can also choose from 4 different bandwidths which affects the range of frequencies around the centre point that are affected. 60Hz might be a bit too low for the factory speakers, but 80 or 100 does the job nicely! Of course if you've fitted a sub, the 60 should really shake your bolts loose! For treble you can set the centre frequency to 7.5Khz, 10Khz, 12.5Khz or 15Khz. I found the 10KHz lifts the factory speakers up nicely with good presence and detail. There is no bandwidth adjustment on the treble. Oh there's also a loudness option for low volume listening and a defeat to quickly hear the output flat.
So back to the ipod and how it works.... well once i plugged the dock connector into my ipod video, a neat alpine logo appears on screen (on the ipod that is!) and the option to disconnect at any time.
On the head unit you can choose tuner, cd or ipod. On selecting ipod the display then shows searching for a few seconds and the ipod then plays from where it last left off. The sound quality is obviously superb, certainly far better than any FM or tape adaptor solution with crystal highs and tight deep bass, and plenty of dynamic range. Depending on the settings, the head unit then shows the artist name, song title and album title scrolling in turn across the display. You can hit back or next and immediately change songs.
To search through your ipod you hit the search button to the left centre of the rotary knob. You can then choose from Playlist, Artist, Album or Song using the knob and then press search again to confirm.
If you choose playlist, you then scroll through your playlists using the knob. Although the display only updates about every 1/2 second or so, the choice updates as fast as you turn the knob so if you've got many, you can whizz through.. stopping occasionally to check where you are. Once you've chosen one, press PLAY to start playing that playlist from the start.
If you like you can continue to narrow down your search, press search instead of play after choosing a playlist to then search the songs in that list. Again use the knob to chose any song in the playlist and press MODE (the button under the knob) to play from that song onwards.
Basically you press the play button to play the songs in a playlist, an album or an artist, whilst you press the MODE button to play a particular song that youv'e chosen.
Going back to the beginning, you can choose to search playlist, artist, album and then choose whether to narrow down any of those searches by pressing search again and choosing another type. e.g. you could choose an artist, then search through the albums by that artist, then search through the songs in that album before choosing one.
As for speed, well its miles quicker than any other head unit and ipod interface I've tried. I'll try and time it when I get chance, but it seems to change the selection as quick as the 'notches' are felt as you turn the rotary encoder. At first it can get a bit weird remembering what to press and where you are, but with time it becomes second nature.
At any point you can press function to go back to the previous mode, or hold search for a couple of seconds to come out altogether of this mode... which it does if you dont touch anything for 10 seconds or more.
Also when its playing a playlist, artist or album, the up and down buttons (left of the knob) will advance through the respective playlist, artist or album immediately.
There's a quick search, you hold the search button for 2 secs or more and then you choose a song with the dial and it plays as soon as you stop turning the dial, without the need to hit play or mode.
Shuffle play is called MIX and you can shuffle albums (it plays all songs in an album, then chooses another album at random until all albums are played), or you can shuffle songs. As for repeat, well you can only repeat a single song.
The unit can sometimes take a few seconds to search for a song before starting, but no slower than a cd changing tracks. I've yet to try the cd mp3/wma feature, but it too benefits from all the search features above.
I'll try and take a photo in the car for you all to see sometime, but all I can say this is great unit and for £149 from pixmania, a true bargain!