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Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

Portable navigation system

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  • Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

    Front

  • Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

    Docked in car mount

  • Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

    Map detail

Item #: 500PMDB100
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

by Matt Freeman
Alpine

Who needs a portable navigator?

Portable GPS puts you in touch with the world when you're on the road. Tap the restaurant icon, and it asks you what kind of food you're looking for. Type in "Mexican," and you're eating a burrito before you know it. A portable navigator not only gets you to your destination, it can also find museums, theaters, and other spots along the way. Many navigators receive traffic reports, so you can avoid jams. Other cool features range from hands-free calling to 3D graphics and lane guidance. Best of all, you can move a portable easily from car to car, a big plus for multi-car families.

Save up to $500 on an Alpine System

Long a leader in DVD-based navigation systems, Alpine has now turned its expertise to creating an accurate, easy-to-use portable navigator. Enter the PMD-B100 Blackbird, a conveniently compact package with a vivid 3.6" color screen that's highly visible at a glance. Touchscreen controls make it easy to access the built-in U.S. maps, program the system, and enter destinations. And it can even monitor real-time traffic conditions in certain areas (subsription required).

You can navigate to specific addresses, town centers, or intersections, to name a few. Or you can pick one of the six million points of interest preloaded into the system, including restaurants, hotels, airports, and gas stations. You can even ask the display to show you icons of points of interest along the way, making finding services and attractions that much easier.

The Blackbird also features a built-in receiver that makes it compatible with NAVTEQ Traffic RDS™. Subscribe to NAVTEQ Traffic, and you can receive real-time information on traffic conditions along your programmed route. These include traffic jams, emergency situations, construction, and more. You'll be able to adjust your route and avoid traffic snags — an invaluable tool especially if you have long daily commutes to and from work. NAVTEQ Traffic is currently available only in select markets.* For a limited time, get a free 90-day trial subscription to NAVTEQ Traffic with your Blackbird purchase, plus the option to subscribe for another year for a one-time fee of $60.

To make your trip even more fun, set up to ten points you'd like to visit on the way to your destination. You can also customize your route preferences, like asking the Blackbird to avoid toll roads, for example. Voice prompts delivered over the built-in speaker warn you whenever a turn is coming up. If you miss a turn, the Blackbird will recalculate automatically for you.

You can also use the Blackbird to store and enjoy your favorite MP3 music files. Just save them to a digital media card (SD or MMC), slide the card in the slot, and you're ready to go. You can even plug a set of headphones into the built-in headphone jack and use the Blackbird as a portable MP3 player.

Alpine built in a rechargeable battery so you can use the Blackbird outside of the car. The package also includes a windshield mount, along with car and home power adapters.

*Currently, NAVTEQ Traffic RDS service is available only in the following cities:

  • Annapolis, MD
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Boston, MA
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
  • Denver-Boulder, CO
  • Detroit, MI
  • Hartford-New Britain, CT
  • Houston-Galveston, TX
  • Kansas City, KS-MO
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Memphis, TN
  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Middlesex-Somerset-Union, NJ
  • Milwaukee-Racine, WI
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  • Nassau-Suffolk, NY
  • Nashville, TN
  • New York, NY
  • Norfolk-Virginia Beach, VA
  • Orlando, FL
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Portland, OR
  • Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket, RI
  • Riverside-San Bernardino, CA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • St. Louis, MO
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Seattle-Tacoma, WA
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
  • Washington, DC
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL
See more info on this item

Highlights:

  • portable GPS satellite navigation unit
  • built-in, fold-up antenna receives satellite signals
  • 3.6" color screen with touchscreen controls
  • built-in traffic-information receiver compatible with NAVTEQ Traffic RDS real-time traffic information service (subscription required)
  • MP3 playback from digital media card (SD or MMC)
  • preloaded, detailed maps of the U.S.
  • 6 million selectable points of interest (POI)
  • POI icons can be overlaid on maps
  • programming of up to 10 intermediate points along a route
  • three separate map views: map, arrow, and map/arrow list combo
  • automatic route recalculation in the event of a missed turn
  • address book with up to 100 destinations
  • home and car power adapters
  • built-in rechargeable battery with 2 hours of life
  • windshield mounting bracket
  • built-in speaker
  • USB cable
  • 5-13/16"W x 2-15/16"H x 1-3/16"D
  • weight: 8 oz.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Note: Sorry, Crutchfield cannot ship Alpine products to Guam or Puerto Rico.

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
Features
Maps
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Built-in
Map Coverage
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USA, Canada
Points of Interest
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6000000
Multiple Destination Routing
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Screen Size
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3.6"
Widescreen
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Yes
Bluetooth Capable
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No
Photo Viewer
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Digital Audio Playback
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Text To Speech
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Voice Control
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Dynamic Content Services
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Removable Memory Type
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SD/MMC
Battery Life
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N/A
Warranty
Parts Warranty
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1 Year
Labor Warranty
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1 Year
Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Portable navigation receiver
  • PMD-BAT1 Li-polymer battery (3.7V/1200mAh)
  • Cradle with attached 55" cigarette lighter charger and suction cup
  • AC adapter with attached 73" cord (Output: 5V/2A)
  • 58" USB cable (has a USB Type A connector on one end and a Mini USB Version 2.0 connector on the other end)
  • Hard plastic mounting disk with self-adhesive base
  • 4 Machine screws
  • 1 Cradle eject lockout screw
  • 1 Soft carrying case
  • 1 Wiping cloth
  • Owner's Manual
  • Quick Reference Guide
  • Customer Care Registration card
  • "Software Updates" sheet
  • Note on mounting the Blackbird
  • 90 Day Free Trial NAVTEQ Traffic RDS brochure

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Inputs and Outputs

Features

Product Overview: The PMD-B100 Blackbird is a portable GPS navigator and digital entertainment system, all in one. Combined with detailed maps, the Blackbird provides automatic routing, turn-by-turn voice directions, and touchscreen control. The unit also includes a built-in traffic receiver (subscription needed). In addition to these navigation features, the Blackbird can play MP3 and WMA files.

SD/MMC Card Slot: The Blackbird can play back MP3 and WMA audio files from an optional SD memory card or MultiMediaCard. The audio player allows you to repeat the songs in the current folder, or play the songs in random order.

Map Software: The Blackbird comes loaded with detailed maps of the United States and Canada. The maps feature approximately 6-million points of interest (POIs), such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations, ATMs and attractions.

Touchscreen Display: The unit features a bright, 3.6" (diagonal) LCD with touchscreen controls. The display has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels.

Map Display Modes: The main map display contains the following information: current position icon, current street name, next street name, distance to destination, direction to destination, estimated time remaining/estimated time of arrival, distance to next maneuver, next maneuver arrow, map orientation, map scale, and GPS status bar. The Route Mode can be set to one of the following modes:

  • Arrow: allows you to switch between the main map display and Arrow Mode, which displays three successive arrow maneuvers all the way to your destination while providing turn-by-turn guidance prompts
  • Split: allows you to switch between the main map display and Split Arrow/Map Mode, which displays a large arrow and larger next-street-name font along side a map screen while providing turn-by-turn guidance prompts

Destination Input: The Destination Menu gives you many different ways to choose your destination:

  • Address: you can input your destination's address by street and city
  • Point of Interest: you can enter a Point of Interest by place name or place type
  • Recent Destinations: allows you to choose your destination from a list of recent destinations
  • Coordinates: allows you to choose a destination by entering its latitude and longitude
  • Address Book: if a location has already been placed into your personal address book, you can recall the location for use as a destination
  • Intersection: you can enter the intersection of two streets and make it your destination
  • Home: if you have registered a location as "home", you can enter "Home" as your destination

Waypoints: You can set up to 10 waypoints from your current location to the current destination.

POI Icons: The navigation system can display up to 37 different Points of Interest icons around the cursor position when you scroll the map. These include ATMs, banks, gas stations, grocery stores, hotels/motels, parking lots, convenience stores, bed and breakfasts, post offices, hospitals, and restaurants.

Displaying the Entire Route: The navigation system allows you to view the entire route so you can verify if the route calculation is correct.

Route Calculation Method: Depending on the time of day, you may want to alter the way the system calculates the route. You can choose from the following route calculation methods:

  • Quickest: calculates the most efficient way to arrive at your destination
  • Shortest: calculates the shortest route to your destination
  • Maximize Freeways: calculates a route that makes most efficient use of freeways
  • Minimize Freeways: calculates a route that uses mostly surface streets
  • With/Without Toll Roads: calculates a route with or without toll roads
  • With/Without Ferry: when calculating a route, you can set whether to use a ferry or not

Off-route Recalculation: If you deviate from the suggested route, the system can recalculate a route to get you back on the way to your destination.

Detour Function: If during a route you require the system to detour around an obstacle, you may use the Detour button to automatically recalculate a new route.

Trail Feature: The Trail feature allows you to turn on and off trail dots that appear wherever the vehicle icon traverses. This is especially helpful for off-road enthusiasts.

Simulating Navigation: When indoors, you can activate the built-in simulator and practice using the unit. This turns off the GPS receiver so it's not searching for satellites.

Trip Information: The Blackbird keeps track of the following trip information:

  • Driving Average: average speed since Trip Info was reset
  • Overall Average: average speed since start of trip
  • Maximum Speed: maximum speed reached on current trip
  • Driving Time: time vehicle has been moving since the trip was reset
  • Idle Time: time vehicle has been stopped since the trip was reset
  • Total Time: total elapsed time on the trip, which is always the driving time plus idle time

GPS Status: You can view the dynamic location information received from satellite such as signal strength, compass (direction information), latitude/longitude, approximate altitude, and speed.

Map Screen Orientation: You can select one of the following map screen orientations:

  • North Up: the map display is positioned so that north is always at the top of the screen. The Present Vehicle Position icon will rotate on the map.
  • Heading Up: the Present Vehicle Position icon can be positioned so that its current direction is always pointing to the top of the screen. In this case, the icon remains frozen in the center of the display while the map rotates with each turn.

Estimated Time Display: When the system calculates a route, it also estimates the time it will take to arrive at the destination. It will display this estimate as the arrival time, or the time remaining to reach the destination.

Screen Color Mode: You can select one of three color modes for the display screen:

  • Day: has a lighter, brighter background
  • Night: has a darker background and is easier to see at night
  • Auto: display automatically switches between Day and Night at sunrise and sunset

FM Transmitter: When the built-in FM transmitter is active, it broadcasts music and voice prompts to an available frequency on your FM car radio. The FM transmitter can be set to one of the following frequencies: 88.1, 88.3, 88.5, 88.7, 88.9, 106.7, 106.9, 107.1, 107.3, 107.5, 107.7, or 107.9 MHz.

Built-In Traffic Receiver: The Blackbird feature a built-in traffic receiver that supports the optional NAVTEQ Traffic RDS service with a subscription which displays real roadway information in real time from multiple sources on the Blackbird's screen. NAVTEQ Traffic RDS includes traffic information from top local sources, including police, video cameras and departments of transportation. This information is continuously updated, processed and delivered wirelessly, instantly to the Alpine Blackbird. NAVTEQ Traffic RDS even features color-coded roadways to illustrate the average speed of traffic for the road you are traveling and unique icons to indicate accidents, stalled vehicles, road construction and road closures. The Alpine Blackbird can use this traffic information to create a smarter and quicker route to your destination. NAVTEQ Traffic RDS map coverage currently covers 42 major cities in the United States and is still growing. Visit www.BlackbirdTraffic.com for up-to-date market coverage.

Note: Currently the Blackbird comes with a Free 90 day trial of NAVTEQ Traffic RDS right out of the box. Upon conclusion of the 90 day trial period, the NAVTEC Traffic RDS service is available through NAVTEQ for a standard annual fee of $60.00. The Traffic feature is only available when the Blackbird is placed in the cradle or optional docking station.

Optional Wireless Remote Control: The Blackbird can be controlled by the optional Alpine RUE-4140 wireless remote.

Optional Docking Station: The optional PMD-DOK1 docking station allows you to connect the Blackbird to a compatible Alpine Multimedia Station or stand-alone display.

Power Requirements: The Blackbird operates on your vehicle's battery using the included 12-volt cigarette lighter power adapter, the Lithium-polymer battery, or household current using the supplied AC adapter. Stored data, such as waypoints or unit settings, are not lost when the unit is disconnected from a power source.

Antenna: The built-in antenna is located in the unit's back panel and must be flipped up during navigation. An optional external antenna (PMD-ANT1) may be needed when operating the unit with a coated windshield or an in-screen heating system, which can block the GPS signal. The unit has an external GPS antenna jack with an MCX-type connector.

Mounting Options: The unit should be securely installed when used in a vehicle. The unit comes with a mounting cradle that includes a suction cup. The suction cup can be used to mount the unit to the windshield or to the dash (using the plastic mounting disk). Once the Blackbird is mounted, it can be adjusted for best visibility.

Note: If you're not using a remote antenna, the unit must be installed where it has a relatively unobstructed view of the sky.

Pro.Fit Bracket Compatibility: The Blackbird is compatible with the Pro.Fit Legend series Vehicle Specific Mounts (VSM). The Blackbird can also be used with the regular Pro.Fit VSMs when combined with the EZ-1026 easy swivel adapter.

Interface Capability: This unit can be connected to a PC via the supplied USB cable. This interface allows you to download additional map information to the unit's memory.

Inputs and Outputs

Top Panel of Blackbird:

  • Headphones: minijack headphone output

Bottom Panel of Blackbird:

  • USB: USB Mini-B Type 2.0 that allows you to connect the Blackbird to a computer using the supplied USB cable
  • Antenna: MCX-type connector that allows you to connect an optional external GPS antenna (PMD-ANT1)
  • Cradle Connector: proprietary port that interfaces with the supplied cradle and allows you to connect the supplied AC power adapter

Back Panel of Cradle:

  • Antenna: SMA-type connector that allows you to connect an optional external GPS antenna (PMD-ANT1)
 
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Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird Reviews

Average Customer Review:

29 people say:

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4 out of 5

Simple (Thats Good)

Written By Pasqual, Los Angeles,CA on Thursday, August 28, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I use this item in my wifes car and on my motorcycle. It does what it should and its very simple. Simple is what I wanted.

Other systems require you to get used to their way of doing things. Just like when you get a new cell phone and you have to learn the new process.
This unit is good right out of the box.

One negative is that the battery life is a LOT less than specified

This product is for people who know where they are going,and just need help with exact addresses and new places. Those who are perpetually lost should just stay away.

I bought this unit as a refurb from Crutchfield. VERY HAPPY!!!!!

Pros: Easy Buttons, Loud Speaker, Mp3 Player, easily portable.

Cons: Short Battery Life, (Occasional)Long initial start-up time.

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4 out of 5

Great product for the price

Written By mchombeau, Portland, OR on Thursday, March 20, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I got the scratch and dent version for only $169 and it works great. I actually ended up buying two. The only problem that I had, is that the maps aren't up to date but the updates are supposed to be available in April 2008. Crutchfield customer service was excellent as always, but the Alpine people were very rude.
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4 out of 5

Liking It

Written By TraceynChad, Minnesota on Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Besides the car charger not working properly, this has been a good purchase. We've had it only for a couple of weeks now, and are enjoying it. We would recommend this product.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Best of 3 systems I've Tried

Written By CLS, ATL, GA on Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I tried a fine digital once and absolutely hated that unit. I subscribed for a while to Verizon VZ-navigator and while it was useful, if I ever got a phone call, I lost the GPS Function until I started it up again. I got the unit and took it to Palo Alto CA, it did great. I then checked to see how it did going to SC; it didn't like the route I took but it did perform the best of the three I have experience with. This last Labor Day my wife and I took a trip to Orlando, FL and it did a great job that trip too.

I would recommend getting the remote though, it can be hard for the passenger to reach if it is placed where the driver can see and hear it.
4 out of 6 people found this helpful
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1 out of 5

Worst navigation unit I ever used

Written By Valeriy, Cumming, GA on Sunday, August 12, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I still cannot believe that Alpine could release a product of such inferior quality.

The unit was freezing up on me at least a few times daily. The reset procedure required removing the unit from the cradle and inserting a paper clip into a small hole on the back. Try it while you drive. My replacement unit was a bit more stable but not so much.

Navigation. I have never seen such a poorly executed navigation algorithm as this unit possesses. This is not the first navigation unit I own. I owned Harman Kardon Traffic Pro that I was very happy with for about two years.

Once, “guided” by Blackbird, I drove the same route I drove many times from Atlanta, GA to Columbus, OH. I lost almost an hour (compared to HK Traffic Pro) just in Cincinnati, OH as I realized later because of the way the Blackbird guessed the “optimal” route.

If you drive a new road not on the map, the unit will start furiously recalculating new route every few seconds. If you happened to listen to the media player at the same time, it will stop playing while recalculating. Nice, ha?

Now, if you missed a turn and now are driving to a dead end, what does the unit do? No, it does not suggest you to make a U-turn. Why bother? After recalculating your new route the unit suddenly assumes you drive backwards!

Maps were very simplistic and outdated on Blackbird. Most intersections are shown as just two intersecting roads. No lanes, no anything.

I ordered Harman Kardon GPS500 instead: more recent maps showing all lanes on intersections, better views (including 3-D), much, much better navigation algorithm, and absolutely no freezing.
12 out of 13 people found this helpful
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1 out of 5

Big Disappointment

Written By Seth, Corona, CA on Tuesday, July 24, 2007
 
I purchased the Alpine Blackbird GPS because I owned an Alpine stereo unit which was very reliable. My assumption was I was going to get the same reliability from any Alpine product. Unfortunately, I was wrong. It takes 5-20 mins to locate the satellite signal. This is very annoying as I have to pull over the road and wait for the unit to locate the signal. Another problem is the 5-10 sec delay time on the directions. In other words, the unit takes too long to alert you. I would pass an exit a quarter mile away and the unit decides to alert me. This causes me to miss my exit. The only positive thing about the Alpine Blackbird is the attractive look.
5 out of 6 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Good for the less needy

Written By Stephen, Wayne, New Jersey on Thursday, July 19, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I was hesitant upon purchasing the Blackbird due to some problems I've heard of based on reviews. But I sucked it up, and I have to say I'm glad I did. The problems were seemingly fixed by Alpine in their update, and I am very happy with the unit. It gets a signal, routes, reroutes, all fairly quickly.

What I love about this unit is how fast it can find an address and narrow down search results. It is almost instant. Some units I've seen take a second or two to narrow down entry possibilities. Definitely a plus if you're looking for something quickly.

On the contrary, there are other GPS systems with text-to-speech and 3D mappping. While these are 'cool' they are over rated for the 'average' user (being someone who uses their unit once in a while). Don't be fooled by higher prices because of these features -- you most likely won't need either of them. The simple direction announcements and easy-to-read zoomable map is all you really need.

The unit is not perfect however -- the speaker is a little weak. For an Alpine product, I'm surprised they haven't made it directly compatible with head units. FM is great, but you need an SD card with music to really use it for what its worth.

Great unit. If you are hesitant like I was -- go for it, you won't regret it.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Excellent GPS

Written By Matthew, Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday, July 12, 2007
 
This is my first foray into the portable GPS world, and I couldn't be happier with the Blackbird. I own an Alpine car head unit, which is why I chose the Blackbird over the (now) similarly priced Tom Tom One. I live in a rural area surrounding Pittsburgh PA. I tried to confuse the unit but its re-routing was always accurate and quick. The screen is easy to read, although direct sunlight washes it out. Menus are easy, and finding addresses is intuitive. The ability to find directions to an intersection of two streets is a great feature. I also like the internal MP3 player and FM transmitter. The built in speaker is not very loud, so being able to transmit over your car audio system is great. But the maps are so good, you don't really need to hear the directions. One drawback is that freeway off-ramps often do not appear on the map until you are nearly past them, so pay attention to the distance remaining to the turn. The extensive POI library is impressive, if a little clunky to search. I rated this unit four stars for a few reasons: the unit is really too big to be considered portable, the battery life is also an impediment to portability (two hours max, likely less), no text-to-speech (at the recommended list price, it should be standard) but at the reduced price, this point is forgivable. Pretty good unit, I've experienced none of the software bugs that earlier reviewers mention, as I actually received the PMD-B100T with updated software. As a first GPS unit, this Alpine is a good choice. Hope this review helps.
3 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

lovin everything Alpine makes

Written By Jordan, Sunny Tampa FL on Friday, June 29, 2007
 
I am in absolute love with the Alpine Blackbird! It saved me a ton of headaches on my trip from Tampa to Orlando today. I tried the free 90 day traffic trial option and it save me from sitting in traffic from accidents. The thing told me where the accidents were and how to bypass them. I was a little concerned with the screen size being smaller when I was first looking for a portable navigation, but I think its a perfect size and I wouldn't want it any bigger, otherwise it would be too much in my line of sight...Great job Alpine on another great product!
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Awesome GPS!

Written By Steven K., Bloomington, IL on Friday, June 22, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I just purchased this GPS system a couple days ago and already it has worked flawlessly! WE travel a lot and using the Blackbird it never took a wrong turn, it might take a route your not used to if you look up a known area, but it still will get you there, the 5 million POI's come in handy also, Now since its such a low price, i highly reccomend it
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

Written By Kenneth, Alvin, TX on Sunday, June 10, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This is got to be the best GPS system for the price. The Traffic works flawlessly and I've only had a few problems with new roads that were not updated in the system. There is no need to spend hundreds more for another product, when this does more then some of the more expensive ones.
3 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Excellent product

Written By Josh, Lynchburg, VA on Sunday, June 03, 2007
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Before i bought the blackbird i read review after review, and some of the reviews i read were rather discouraging yet some were very positive. i finally got the unit about three days ago and am perfectly happy with it. it is very acurate with position and ETA. the only drawbacks i can think of are, when you have all the wondows down or the stereo up even a little it is difficult to hear the voice directions, also the windshield mount is pretty shakey. either of those dont bother me because i plan on buying the docking kit and hook it up to the IVA-D105. i was unable to duplicate any negative i have read about the unit in regards to the inaccuracy aspect and overall functuallity of the unit. when i bought it came with the latest update already installed so i assume that fixed everything.

i love it and recomend it to everyone and anyone.
4 out of 5 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Very Satisfied

Written By mderris, Phoenix AZ on Sunday, March 25, 2007
 
I recently purchased the Blackbird hoping all the problems reported earlier had been fixed. So far I am very pleased with the performance. Mine already had the update right out of the box and it was good to go. Rerouting is done fairly fast, signal aquisition is usually 30-45 seconds in my area. Have not played with the trial traffic service to much, but it did display accurate construction on my route. All in all I am very pleased with unit and it is by far the best looking one I have seen. The only negative is the short battery life.
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Now that everything is fixed....

Written By jomaset, Southern California on Thursday, November 30, 2006
 
Common sense dictates you should never buy the first model of any product as there are inevitably design flaws, bugs, and programming errors that will slip past the engineers and be discovered by the early adopters. The Alpine Blackbird is no exception. Knowing this, I purchased the Blackbird when it was first released and sure enough, it exhibited most of the problems mentioned by the previous posters. I remained a faithful early adopter and reserved judgment on this unit until Alpine had a sufficient time to respond to the problems. While I believe Alpine released this unit 6 months too early, I am happy to say that they have come through to my complete satisfaction. After a couple of firmware updates on their site, and a CD mailed to me at no charge, (not to mention a long, long wait for the release of the cradle to connect it to the Alpine IVA-W200 head unit, I can say that the Blackbird is finally ready for production! And, I am ready to pass judgment.5 stars.
Having used a number of different navigation systems from built-in OEM car units to hand-helds, I have yet to find one without any "quirks" or drawbacks. The Blackbird seems to have the fewest of each. If you don't own a compatible Alpine car stereo, there is probably no real advantage to this unit over other portables. If you do have compatible head unit, it is an amazing deal. You can have "built-in" navigation with the ability to easily take the navigation to another car in seconds. It's the best of both worlds.
There seems to be only one negative left; the battery life. Always use it plugged in.
The previous posters were not exaggerating, this unit had problems.It no longer does.
6 out of 7 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

i tried not lettin the navi ruined my vacation

Written By Minh, new orleans, la on Monday, November 27, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
i bought this navigation system in anticipation of my vacation during the thanksgiving holidays in atlanta, ga...i notice that it does take awhile for the gps to get online when you are around tall buildings...what really annoyed me was the fact that i was told to make 3 separate loops at 3 separate exits in atlanta before i arrived at my destination....i was being put on the 3 separated freeways in atlanta each time heading north, south, and east...as i was heading home, i was sent to a different route this time and every 10 miles or so it was rerouting by itself, which makes me wonder ...am i lost?...since i did go by the direction i was given...but oh well
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5 out of 5

Excellent product!

Written By Alexander, Huntingtown, MD on Monday, October 23, 2006
 
I installed the Alpine W200 double-din (and NAV capable) headunit in my 2004 4Runner about 6 months ago. I'd been going back and forth about what NAV unit I wanted to add. I had originally intended to add the Blackbird (and the docking kit - not out yet) to my W200. But then I read some of the questionable reviews on here and I waited. And I researched. And I waited some more. Finally when the price dropped I couldn't resist anymore, even though the docking kit is still not out.

I have to say I was a little nervous having never seen the unit but I've always been happy w/ Alpine products. I ultimately decided to get this unit because of its ability to interface with my headunit in my truck. The only other unit I even considered seriously was the Garmin Nuvi 350/360. Well, let me tell you, with the recent software update on the Blackbird, it's nothing short of spectacular in my opinion.

This is my first NAV unit so I don'thave much to compare it to. I will say that all of the problems that previous reviewers have commented on are not present. Re-routing is *very* quick. No lock-ups either. Interface is excellent and I'm still just learing some things. I can't even wait until the docking kit comes out.

If you're like I was, thinking about buying this unit but a little nervous because of all the earlier reviews, well... do yourself a favor and buy this unit, you won't be disappointed!!! It's top notch. I highly recommend it.
7 out of 7 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Very good product

Written By Thanh, Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, July 23, 2006
 
This is a very good product once you get the software update from Alpine that fixes many of the bugs people have complainted about.

Pros:
1. With the new software update my unit has not had problems with locking up during rerouting and is now fast when rerouting.

2. pretty accurate on vehicle position (I'd say within 50-100ft)

3. Good screen that is easy to read

4. Fast to start up and locate satellites

5. Easy to use

6. Lots of POI

Cons:
1. Battery life is limited

2. Volume on speaker is not very loud at times

3. NAVTEQ RDS traffic program is not yet active. On alpine's website the release date with the new software is planned for the middle of August.

Overall, I would highly recommend this unit.
9 out of 9 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Best portable

Written By Annie, Danbury, CT on Friday, July 14, 2006
 
I've used several different portable navigation units, Magellen Roadmate 760, Cobra Navone 4500, and Sony's Nav U and in my experience this is the best portable unit. The Magellen had problems with freezing up and the Cobra would always stop working at one point on I-684 in New York. And Sony's is only $100 cheaper but has only 1.5 million POI's compared to Alpine's 6 million. Every POI or address I've typed in has been on the hard drive in the Alpine. Many times units lack important addreses or POI's which can be very frustrating. Also, people forget that Alpine has been making Navigation for quite some time, they've been making OEM navigation for years for companies like GM, Honda/Acura, etc. It's also very versatile with the built in SD card slot, FM transmitter and the fact that you can use it completely portable, or as a windshield mount, or even hook it up to an indash Alpine DVD/Touch screen.

The fact that the screen may not keep up with your EXACT position you are in on the map (some people complained about this in earlier reviews) is the nature of all portable hard drive based units. If you want to avoid that (mostly a problem if you're not paying attention and driving very fast past many streets intersections) , buy a better DVD based navigation system like the NVEN872A. This unit is much quicker at processing information and can keep up with your position more accurately, it's also quite a bit more money though.
8 out of 8 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Great Product, but could still be improved.

Written By Tito, Garden Grove, CA on Saturday, July 01, 2006
 
7. Bulky and battery problems. Its to big to be considred for personal GPS, which would have been really nice considering it has MP3 capabilities and could be used for entertainment as well. The battery only last 2 hours (more or less) between charging. The battery bay is also not marked how properly insert battery, only way to really know for sure is look inside the bay to match the terminals.

Now for the Pros

1. Screen. Its a pretty good size screen as well as crisp. Automatically changes to day and night (using time of day) and brightness could be adjusted.
2. Battery. Its external, so part of Con # 7 can be fixed just by bringing extra ones.
3. Design. Well, dont really have to say much about it.
4. Ease of use. Its actually really easy to use unlike other GPS Ive looked at.
5. Extras. It comes with an AC cord, not like others. Plays MP3s, unit can keep track of your trip (Ave speed, idle time, etc...).
6. Video Dock. You can connect the unit to have a larger screen. And if its a compatible product, you can control the unit from the screen (IVA-D310) which means you can hide the unit somewhere else. Solves the glare problem as well as difficulty of undocking it. I dont have it yet, so I dont know how "less" difficult it is.
7. Really secure. The undocking problem has a flip side, its secure in its dock... And suction cup has that switch thing to get better suction.
Overall, its a great unit. Most of the cons are easily
"fixable" or negligible for most people. Only reason it got a four is those "easily" fixable and negligible problems are easily fixed which they didnt do.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

may help

Written By marcel, NYC on Sunday, May 21, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Bought this unit recently i have tested it. And i think is not what i expected , but is very great looking unit:
-1: the real trafic info is not working yet
-2: to slow to reroute
-3: can't take addres as 99-16 98th str or similar so it will take you to 99th str, but what if that str.is two or more miles long you have look on every single house number?
-4: unit doesn't recognize oneway streets so it's navigates you to even agains the trafic/on small or local strrets/
-5:freezes often during rerouting
-6:sensor for night driving too sensitive to light ,it is distracting when the lighted dial is blinking when passing under street lights
+1: in car holder and charger very good
+2: battery powered so you can take it for hiking or fishing....etc.
+3:very light and comes with case
+4: very good display/resolution/
+5:internal FM antena for trafic info receiving
FM modulator for transmiting navigation and music through FM radio receiver
+6: GPS antena is adjustable and can be hidden while carrying unit in jacket.

I would say the unit is worth around $350 to $400 as it is.
3 out of 4 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Are we there yet?

Written By fr3ddi3mr, Teoc, MS on Tuesday, May 02, 2006
 
I read all the reivews and really second guessed this before buying it.I have witnessed a few problems but as far as overall quality this is good. Im not a real big expert on GPS and I was setting one up at work (Garmin) and I was lost. This was and is pretty simple and straight forward. There are times when it takes longer to "aquire satellite signal or re-calculate" but the same thing can be said for cell phones. I live in the country and on the way home it works perfect. In the morning when I leave it takes several miles before it goes live. My biggest complaint is the voice guidence. I would like to use the built in MP3 player (SD card) but everytime i play them through the radio it mutes and said "recalculating" this is cool in a way because it mutes the song that is playing and says recalculating but its does it several times back to back. that may be a glitch that has to be solved through updates from the Alpine site or that I live in a magnetically rich section of the world. A huge disappoiment to me was the additional docking station that connects to the IVA-D310. That was 3\4 the reason I got it but the dealer said they are not for sale in the US yet. Im not sure about my install but it is wired directly to a hot so I have to manually power off the unit when I turn off my jeep. It is nice that it doubles as a touch screen portable MP3 player and that I can carry it four-wheeler riding. I also drive in the country now just to see what the goverment has named the gravel roads. "My road" for instance was a nickname of long time inhabitants. It is a very useful tool for traveling. I can zoom in and out to get a comfortable view of the place I'm in.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Excellent Product

Written By Christopher, Long Island, NY on Sunday, March 26, 2006
 
I got this unit and I am very satisfied. I did not run into the problems as stated by other reviewers. The undocking of the unit is easy and the button on the back of the cradle is to release it. You must lift it straight out and slips out nicely. The fm modulater is fine yoy must find a station that is clear of static though. Once you do this the voice prompts come over your car speakers while playing your mp3's awsome feature. Well the real time traffic is not working but late march early spring it will be active alpine told me. The traffic feature will also give realtime weather updates too.

ThIs Is ThE BeSt UnIt I hAve EvEeR BoUgHt.
6 out of 6 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

great gps.....

Written By mags, torrance, ca on Friday, March 17, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
thanks to alpine for making this wonderful gadget. the display is very clear and crisp. although the signal is very slow when opening the system, but after the start-up everything will be ok...the prompt warns you ahead of time especially when driving on the freeways. the looks are 10 out of 10!!! it looks like an ipod because of it's click wheel style controls. as a bonus this blackbird plays mp3 w/c can be played thru your car's head unit. the sound is louder when you put the gps on the included dock. plug the unit to your usb and you're ready to go w/ any updates...one more thing i liked is that it has an external battery w/c can be easily replaced. the signal is slow when re-routing..yes, the voice prompt is a bit slow but notice that the TEXT on the display is already giving you the command before the voice command says so..one thing i disliked is that it is very hard to pull out of the cradle....i really believe that this is a great unit for the price...
7 out of 7 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

Written By SMF, Annapolis, MD on Monday, March 13, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I just received this product from Crutchfield.. Unit was slightly damaged - mini-USB plug seemed to be pushed into unit very slightly, and something was rattling inside unit. The box was intact, and the packaging was good so I suspect this damage was from Alpine, not from shipping. When you first start out in the morning, the unit took maybe 5 minutes to figure out where it was. System was usually slow to respond, zooming in on the map took maybe 10 seconds for the map to redraw. Occasionally, when using the unit, the unit would lock up occasionally. For example, I entered an address, the bar graph on the display would say "calculating" then the unit would sit there in that state until i pressed the reset button on the rear of the unit (power button would not work at all). There was also no information on when FM RDS-TMC traffic would be available, or how you subscribe to the traffic service.

Overall, this has the potential to be a nice unit, but the software bugs need ironing out. I returned this unit.. As one of the other reviewers said, i'll buy another one when the bugs have been resolved..

This is one of the nicer looking navigation devices on the market currently, but I was a little disappointed with the functionality..

Maybe it was just this one unit that was bad, as I stated there was some damage to the device when I received it !

With this unit running windows CE, it seems like it should run video and MPEG4 audio also !
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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2 out of 5

Close is only good in horseshoes or hand grenades

Written By Bob, Northeast US on Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
My advice:
Wait for the second generation of this product. Theyre close.

Lic Agrmt:
Every time it powers on, I have to click "I accept." Arent I basically accepting by buying the unit? Sometimes in cold temps (~30F) the "I accept" button doesnt show up. Force shutdown, restart.

Storage Temp:
Last night temp was 25F. In the morning when I powered the unit on, it froze on the Alpine screen. Sat there for 5 min. Tried to force a shutdown, no luck. Let battery die, then plugged it in to wall.

Acquisition time:
More than 50% of the time 7-8 minutes in residential area. Unit sits on my dash, unobstructed view of sky just like the pics in the manual. Sometimes loses signal near highway overpasses.

Route type:
Based on user setting it auto-calcs route type. It should have an option to ask everytime. Sometimes I want the quickest & sometimes I want the highway b/c its safer. Sometimes the quickest means inadvertently driving through a bad neighborhood with wife and kids.

Tracking:
It says "Turn right" & youre watching the road, but the screen doesnt update fast enough, so youll miss turns.

Addresses:
Tried to enter this, ie. "75 Williams Street". The house # range of values was 1-99. The textbox already had a "1" in the field. I couldnt delete the "1" and it wouldnt accept more than 2 digits. So the best I could get was "11" thru "19." This is an example of poor product testing.

Interface & buttons are great.
Screen display is great.
Route re-calculation is good.
MP3 playback is good.
FM transmitter is average.
Light sensor is too sensitive.
Quick release is like a bear clamp
5 out of 6 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird

Written By speedster2001, winnipeg on Tuesday, March 07, 2006
 
I was looking forward of buying this product for a long time. but then when i got it... it kinda disappoint me. The interface is great but the cursur is very slow it's about half a block behind from the actual map. re-routing if you miss a turn is little bit slow. and i found it hard to take it out from the cradle. everything else are acceptable. i wish alpine will resolve this problem. By the way i did return this product. i will buy it when alpine resolve all of this. :(
4 out of 5 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Little disappointed of this great unit!

Written By Shelly, Danbury, CT on Tuesday, February 28, 2006
 
I have been using this product for a week now. I'm impressed with the interface and the ease of use this unit offers. I've noticed couple of drawbacks, which prevents me from giving the best rating. The initial GPS acquisition is really slow. Occasionally, 'Antenna Closed' message showed up, even though the GPS receiver was in the correct open position. In order to find the re-routing capabilities of this unit, I deliberately deviated on to another street. Not really impressed. It took too long to recognize the street in which I was and to re-route. Sound through the FM transmitter could be improved. Other than these issues, it's a great unit. I hope Alpine corrects these issues quickly.
5 out of 7 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

The Blackbird: Style, Form, Function

Written By Eric Anderson, San Francisco, CA on Thursday, February 23, 2006
 
I've been using the blackbird for a week now, and must say that Alpine has done a great job.

The packaging is beautiful, and the fit and finish of the product remains consistent with the high-quality we've come to expect from Alpine.

The UI is amazing, and quite more advanced than Garmin and Magellan units, including pattern matching of the streets, and better navigation modes.

I *LOVE* the case and mounting, which is snug, and easily detaches to hide in my glove box or under the seat.

Took it from San Francisco to LA, and the startups worked like a charm. Also travelled to New York from SF, and needed to wait about 4 minutes (which is OK when fumbling through my rental car paperwork:).

Though Route calculations from LA-->NY were a little slower (about 40 seconds), local routing was snappy, as was the user interface.

The MP3 playback function is sweet, and the FM transmitter is another cool feature. Oh yeah... i love the removable battery for upgrade options.

I hear that they will have some real-time traffic upgrade soon, and can't wait for it to come!

Overall, it's a beautiful unit. A bit more bulky than the Nuvi, but with a HDD and 6 million POIs, it's a solid offering...
10 out of 15 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Not quite as advertised by Alpine

Written By jallerding, Springboro, OH on Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This is a good looking unit of reasonable quality. The rechargable battery is great, the unit is easy to use, display is crisp, and the voice loud and clear enough to understand. Now the issues:
1. The current units DO NOT have the traffic service activated. There is no information on when, how, or if this will ever be activated from Alpine. This was advertised as one of the features so I'm not sure what happened?
2. The built-in FM transmitter is barely acceptable for music. I had a lot of background noise on any of the stations. It would have been VERY nice if Alpine put an audio output on the cradle so this could be hardwired to your stereo. Especially since Alpine is a car audio company and this is marketed as both a GPS and music player.
3. The route calculation is SLOW and initial GPS tracking is very slow.
Everyone else in this price range has 3D maps also. Not sure why Alpine decided to stick with 2D maps.
39 out of 49 people found this helpful
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