capsule review

Alpine Electronics Blackbird PMD-B200

At a Glance
  • Alpine Blackbird II PMD-B200 GPS (Vehicle, 4" LCD)

    PCWorld Rating

    Expensive GPS device has a media player, Bluetooth connectivity, and easy-to-use controls.

The navigation features in this redesigned high-end GPS from car-electronics specialist Alpine Electronics are easy to operate, but lower-priced competitors like the Garmin Nuvi 360 offer the same functions.

Among the options missing from the Blackbird are 3D map views, pronunciation of street names, and the ability to view images that you store on an SD card. The device's Centrality Atlas II GPS chip was less accurate than the SiRF Star III GPS transceivers used by the other four units I tested for "GPS Devices: Road Tested and Reviewed." In addition, the Blackbird PMD-B200 was slower to update directions and map views than the other devices.

You can sync your Bluetooth phone with the Blackbird PMD-B200 for hands-free calling, and its built-in player handles AAC, MP3, and WMA audio files stored on an SD or MMC card. While this new version of the Blackbird offers directions in French, Spanish, or English, you don't get the diverse voice options available in cheaper GPS models such as the Garmin Nuvi 360.

Alpine places four buttons in a circular controller on the right side of the device's touch screen. Though these buttons are intended to simplify zooming in and out of the map, adjusting the volume, and opening the op­ tions screen, but they add bulk to the unit. I found it just as convenient to use the switch on the unit's top to adjust the volume, and to use the icons on the screen to access the options for entering a destination.

Despite its clear interface and ample options, the Blackbird PMD-B200 costs considerably more than other GPS devices that offer better accuracy and more features in a smaller size.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Expensive GPS device has a media player, Bluetooth connectivity, and easy-to-use controls.

    Pros

    • Bluetooth connectivity
    • Media player

    Cons

    • Lacks 3D maps
    • Lacks pronunciation of street names
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