The Android Panzerfaust.
This is territory where companies like Blaupunkt excel; for not only is it a master of saddling its receivers with a ton of abilities, it’s also conducive to low pricing. The new Cape Town 940 is proof positive with its modest asking price of $1299. So much so that many opponents may just be running for cover.
The Cape Town 940 departs from the normal navigator dogma in that as opposed to running a Windows operating system its 1GHz Dual Core Cortex 9 processor instead runs Android 4.1.1. Jelly Bean software. Time and space won’t allow me to fully explore why this facet is so significant, suffice to say that the aforesaid processor and operating system, in conjunction with 1GB of DDR3 SDRAM and 8GB of flash memory, allows for a noticeably smoother and far quicker reacting platform. By way of comparison; line any run-of-the-mill aftermarket receiver up against a smartphone in regards to operating speed and you’ll see where I’m heading.
Input methodology can literally be found everywhere on the Cape Town 940 starting with its robust disc mechanism. Able to play all standard formats of plastic from CD through to DVD, its solid suspension system renders skips all but extinct. Staying on the hardware for the moment; up front there’s a mini-SD card input, 3.5mm analogue jack and the first of four version 2.0 USB inputs. Turning the unit around will reveal the remaining three USB inputs, additional analogue audio visual inputs, steering wheel input, reverse camera input and a HDMI port for use with MirrorMode (q.v.). Software wise the Cape Town 940 handles just about everything including MP3, WMA, Xvid, AAC, DivX, MP4 and FLAC and is also equipped with Blaupunkt’s CODEM IV radio tuner, offering ten presets on both AM and FM bands.
The Bluetooth comes courtesy of a version 2.1 Parrot FC6000S chipset which allows for the unit not only to function as a streaming device but also a fully optioned phone kit, syncing to multiple phones without drama and allowing for hassle free telephony. The unit is also DAB and DVB-T ready and from here the rabbit hole gets a little deeper with the aforementioned Android operating system now coming into its own as it goes about offering a virtually endless source of entertainment.
Whether it be music, movies, hospitality, navigation and even internet browsing through to news, emails, traffic, weather; you name it and if it’s not available now it probably will be tomorrow. Naturally, you need to setup a connection first before diving head first into this infotainment kaleidoscope. To accomplish this Blaupunkt includes a small Wi-Fi dongle which plugs into one of the USB ports – don’t complain you have four. The dongle allows the deck to interface with hotspots emanating either from modems or phones, henceforth allowing you to access the aforesaid applications. Just one small tip at this point – ensure that when you’re initially setting the unit up that you use either the home or office modem. It’s frighteningly easy to get carried away for lots of cool apps and in the process cauterise your phone plan’s data allowance. Blaupunkt has wisely pre-loaded a few of the more handy ones on the unit such as Shazam, Spotify, TuneIn, Google, FaceBook, Twitter, iGo, Amazon just to name a few. The list of available apps is simply enormous and growing daily.
The Cape Town 940 also has all the ancillary functions such as scientific calculator, photo galleries, clock, calendar and so on. Last but not least there’s MirrorMode that, post connecting up your phone via HDMI cable, effectively allows you to control your smartphone from the deck. Mightn’t sound like much but believe me it’s a virtual godsend these days, what with the wallopers constantly on the lookout for people mischievously handling their phones while driving.
So with information intake covered how does one get it processed and exported? At the elementary level it starts with front, rear and subwoofer 3-volts pre-outs. Alternatively you can employ a powerful internal 4-channel MOSFET amplifier that outputs 22 watts continuously or 50 watts maximum, with the total harmonic distortion remaining most acceptable even at full tilt. There’s a set of multimedia outputs on the rear with the unit also able to process rear passengers’ entertainment separately.
Manipulation wise, the Cape Town 940 doesn’t have a comprehensive processor suite, nonetheless what is included hits the nail on the head insofar as what you’ll actually need to achieve vastly improved sound. Starting with fader and balance controls and on this page you’ll also find the crossovers for the front channels, able to be high-passed at 63Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 150Hz and 180Hz.
The subwoofer level, phase and crossover controls are also located here, with the latter being low-passable at 55Hz, 85Hz, 120Hz or 160Hz. In this section also resides a 5-band parametric equaliser and, while this might sound minute, it’s a little more comprehensive than first appearances might dictate. For although it’s only 5-bands, each band covers four different frequency centres, is adjustable to -/+ 15dB and also contains the all-important Q adjustment for controlling the logarithm width, ranging from 0.75 to 2.0 depending on the band. There’s a whole swag of preset curves in addition to the custom slot for your preferred tune.
Navigate the Town
You might wisely enquire as to why navigation would be included when there’re plenty of navigation apps readily available. It’s because of the comparative complexity. The navigation software package included within the Cape Town 940 makes the smartphone equivalent look positively archaic by comparison. Employing iGo 2.4 for Android navigation software and NaviExtras maps, you first setup various things like language, male or female voice and measurement units. The system is extremely accurate thanks to a positioning system that utilises multiple satellite channels at any one time to fixate its location. There’s voice guidance and text to speech ability, high resolution 2- or 3-dimensional maps with landmarks included on the display, school zones, fixed red light and speed camera locations and an extensive point of interest (POI) database containing over an inconceivable number of items; searchable by name or by actual distance from your current location.
The physical appearance needs to be viewed to be appreciated. On the Blaupunkt website it simply states ‘high-grade styling’ but the reality is oh so much neater. From the piano black surround and unobtrusive commander knob through to the small highlights and flush control buttons and doors, the unit is stupendously clean. At 6.8-inches the display is a little larger than most, and although it boasts similar panel characteristics to many within this class, in that it’s an anti-reflective, fingerprint resistant TFT touch screen with a WVGA 800 x 480 pixel resolution, it’s due to the extremely bright LED backlighting that the deck is far sharper than some competitors. Naturally you can also tailor themes, backgrounds, certain element colours and styles to match your car’s dash.
Blaupunkt include plenty of clearly labelled looms, aerials for navigation, a comprehensive IR remote control, in addition to all the other hardware needed to get the unit in and running – including the elusive cage! An enormous half-inch-thick instruction booklet containing every language post-hieroglyphics is also included. Post installation and loaded with all the apps, I jumped in and got auditioning underway.
Straight up I’ll admit that upon seeing the 3-volts pre-out my heart sank a little, as hiss could have been a worry. Starting out with the zero noise track I braced for disappointment, and was instead rewarded with a sound that actually contains very little in the way of hiss and unwanted artefacts. Turning to real music and the Cape Town 940 sounds wonderful regardless of what source you’re using. Of course you’re limited to the source quality so don’t expect analogue radio or 128k MP3 to bowl you over. But playing serious resolution files, regardless of method, results in a superbly detailed aural reproduction.
Visually it’s a delight to use, most accurate and detailed and, with the added ability to move icons around like a smartphone, you can position the items you use most frequently upon the front page. Its speed should also get a mention; because unlike many receivers of this ilk it’s anything but slow to respond to commands, reacting with speed paralleling a smartphone.
Summing up Blaupunkt’s new masterpiece can be done in a single word; impressive. The sound quality is good, the interface is splendid and the appearance and display are simply out of this world. Mark my words… you’re witnessing the birth of a real winner here.
Type: Double-DIN receiver
Features: Android 4.1.1. platform capable of playing DVD/VCD/CD/MP3/Xvid/DivX/WMV/AAC/MP4. iGo 2.4 for Android Navigation and Parrot 2.1 Bluetooth built-in, multiple analogue and digital inputs and outputs. DAB and DVB-T input ready
Power handling: 4 x 22 watts continuous, 4 x 50 watts maximum
Product page: AudioXtra