Slow searchOne issue we found was that search was initially inoperative on both CDs and our iPod. It seemed as if the unit needed a moment to scan the library before it would let us navigate all the tracks, although the quick-search mode worked right away. After a minute or two, we were able to navigate through our entire CD and iPod.
As a midlevel head unit, the Alpine CDA-9857’s main strength is its ability to easily connect to other Alpine components that can extend its capabilities. Many of its features are fairly run-of-the-mill, but we do like its construction and navigation interface. The lack of any front-panel inputs is a drawback. Its accompanying KCE-422i iPod cable offers a seamless connection and very good iPod integration. The KCT-100BT Bluetooth module works well but is a little cumbersome and won’t integrate well with many car interiors.