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Hands-on with Alpine's excellent iLX-007 CarPlay aftermarket stereo

Susie Ochs | Dec. 4, 2014
I demoed Alpine's CarPlay-equipped aftermarket stereo, the iLX–007, in sunny Santa Monica, literally next door to the Hotel California. Yup, the place from the Eagles song, where "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." And that's an apt location to try out this stereo, which, unlike the Pioneer AVIC–8000NEX, is CarPlay only, and thus iPhone-only. You could check out any other phones you like, but you could never leave your iPhone--unless you want to reduce your $800 CarPlay unit to a lowly AM/FM radio.

If your car has a voice-activation button on the steering wheel, the stereo installer can program it to be a Siri button, so you don't have to press the Siri button below the touchscreen. And the Alpine rep explained to me that you can use the "Hey Siri" trick here too, but it's your phone's microphone that's listening for that, not your car's. (And of course this has to be turned on in Settings > General > Siri.)

Thanks to the smoother touchscreen and Siri button, using the iLX007 is a breeze. CarPlay uses apps and data already on your phone, so you don't have to install apps to your car and worry about keeping them updated, or have to search the same addresses in your car that you already looked up earlier on your phone or computer. If your phone knows it, your car does too.

Who should buy this?

The iLX007 does have an AV input in the back, if you want to add other sources, but Alpine doesn't think that will get a lot of use. This is for people who want to use CarPlay and nothing but. If everyone who drives your car has an iPhone, it's ideal, combining navigation, music, and communication with a no-fuss interface that's as familiar as that one Eagles song.


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