STRONGSVILLE, OHIO -- Alpine CDA 9886: I really hate this thing, and I vowed I'd tell other consumers about it. Maybe the company that designed it will see this and get smart. Every control on the Alpine CDA 9886 is diabolically designed to be counter-intuitive and hard to access. The CD/tape player in my VW Passat failed, after eight years, and I went to an audio store to get a replacement.
Of course you can't get a unit that plays tapes -- heaven forbid that we don't obsolete a technology every eight years. I was assured that this little piece of electronic chutzpah would be easy to operate, compatible with my iPod, and not have a lot of bells and whistles I don't give a darn about. All lies.
First of all, there was no manual with it, so I had to call the installers to figure out how to turn it on. The on-off button is tiny and hard to find, plus it also controls whether you're getting CD, radio, or USB feed. Plus, for some reason, it isn't called on-off. It's called “Source”. So when you're in traffic trying to turn off the radio so you can concentrate on dangerous conditions, you can stab wildly at this tiny button, possibly hitting it eight or ten times, trying to get it to shut up. I think you're supposed to press and hold. but I've never figured out the exact length of time that will silence it.
The face has about twenty other buttons, none of which seem to have anything to do with anything I want. (Did I mention there is no manual?) At least it doesn't seem to want to play Shuffle when I'm listening to an audio book! Next, I find that the installer disconnected my AM radio aerial -- which you sometimes need if you have to get road information.
The salesman I complained to wants to blame VW for this somehow. I had to drive a half hour each way back to that store and wait for the conclusion of a weighty sales interaction with a customer who was spending ten grand on a house sound system (a clue as to why service on replacement car radios is so poor). At least the AM works now.
To eject a CD, which one might need to do if one wished to return an audio disc to the library, for example, you have to find and punch a tiny, unmarked button to pop open the face of the unit, then you have to punch another button to get the disk out. You can't do this unless the engine is running. And as to storing the next CD so you have it ready to pop in when the current one is over, you can put it in a storage container on top (where I wish there was a tape player) and not be able to get it loose because it lies flat and can be scraped loose only with long fingernails.
These things must be designed by engineers who have a very different idea of why people want car radio/CDs. I wish I could meet one of them and give him an earful. But they are carefully shielded behind corporate alias addresses. No back-talk from cheeky consumers who simply want to listen to music or audio-tapes!