Saturday, May 21, 2016

Where are All the New CarPlay Receivers?

Back in late February, I was a bit miffed to hear that the JBL Legend CP100 CarPlay receiver was going to be released while I was visiting relatives in China;  I'd have to order one when I got back. But by the time I got back, it had been delayed until late May. So, I pre-ordered one on Crutchfield and went about wishing for time to pass. Then it was delayed till early July according to the JBL website. Then it was delayed till early August.  I became concerned for my own mortality over wishing for so much time to pass. (Could be worse, I could be waiting for Amazon to start showing Grand Tour episodes, oh wait I am. Curse you time for being both slow and fast in the wrong ways.)

I have now started looking for a different receiver. But few of the 2016 CarPlay receivers announced in January have seen the light of day. Crutchfield has a note like the following on several pre-orderable CarPlay receivers:
Crutchfield first offered this item for pre-order in January of 2016 and we regret that we are still awaiting our first shipment. There have been delays getting the necessary certification from Apple for the CarPlay feature. As soon as we have firm shipping information, we will post an official Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for this radio. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
The JVC Arsenal KW-V820BT, and a bunch of Kenwoods are also awaiting pre-order. [Update: in early July, the KW-V820BT shipped].

That leaves Pioneers: the AVIC-8200NEX and its siblings (7200, 6200, 5200), which are all navigation/DVD playing receivers, and the AVH-4200NEX which is a DVD receiver. Since this is slated for the front of my Civic and Apple invented a thing called the iPad, I don't have much use for DVD playback. I have a hard time imagining the use case where I'm stopped, with my parking brake engaged, watching DVDs. My kids tend to watch YouTube videos in the back seat over the cell network while I drive.  CDs? What is this 1999? As for navigation, I like the constantly updated Apple maps, so the advantage of a navigation receiver is for when I'm out of range of a T-Mobile tower. This does happen when I take the kids up into the White Mountains north of where I live in New Hampshire. Also, apparently, the external GPS antenna can supplement the GPS in my phone, making location services more accurate while driving.  At the moment, Amazon has the AVIC-5200NEX for $575, and the AVH-4200NEX for $520. The 4200 has more media options: HD Radio, an SD reader, HDMI input, and more important for a lot of people: Android Auto support. To get everything in one package, you have to move all the way up to the AVIC-7200NEX, which Amazon sells for $822.  I tend to think the only feature I'd ever use is the external GPS antenna, and possibly the maps which might be worth the $55 premium.

It seems like every receiver has 1.0A USB charging. It'd be nice if it had 2A charging for an iPad or to fast charge an iPhone 6 Plus.

I'm not looking at older CarPlay receivers because I'm hopeful the newer models will be zippier and have the earlier generation kinks fixed. The reason I waited so long on the JBL was because their demonstration videos showed it to be quite fast and allow for pinch to zoom on maps instead of pressing zoom in-zoom out buttons.  So, I'm ignoring older models like the Alpine iLX-007 or the Pioneer AppRadio series.

There is the whole resistive versus capacitive screen debate, and given my druthers, I'd prefer capacitive for its responsiveness, but I don't want to pay a premium for it. And I'd prefer a big volume knob and an easy to hit Siri button, but that doesn't appear to be a choice. Therefore, if I were to buy a receiver today based on specs, price, and availability, I'd buy the AVIC-5200NEX. But I'd be really unhappy about paying about $120 extra for a DVD player I literally will never use after reviewing it. 

I wonder why Apple is delaying so many of the other receivers, they don't seem to have appreciably different specs from the Pioneers they approved. It has the same USB amperage and screen resolutions. In the hopes that something they announce at WWDC in a few weeks will make this make sense, I'm going to hold off ordering the AVIC, but it is weird.

[Update: Crutchfield support tells me:
That receiver has become more delayed than we anticipated. You will probably getting a letter from us soon. The receiver now may not be here until January of next year.

[Update 2: I bought my wife a Sony XAV-AX100 and have been very happy with it. It's much nicer than the JVC KW-820BT I purchased for my Civic.]