Pros: This radio is fairly well designed. It's Alpine's basic player.
Cons: The display could be much improved.
I considered buying the Alpine 7870, but opted instead to buy the Alpine 7874. Nevertheless, the 7870 might be the right player for you. This is Alpines entry level CD/FM/AM player.
Mechanics and Installation
The Alpine 7870 is a standard size DIN player so it easily mounts in most dash boards. It sports a detachable faceplate. Unlike many of its competitors models, you dont have to swing the faceplate down to insert and remove CDs.
There is no remote control.
The manual is adequate, even though it contains a few errors. You can pretty much figure out how to operate the radio with or without the manual.
Display, Buttons and Clock
The display uses green LEDs with a single red power LED. It looks great in the store, but is not so terrific in actual use. Its almost impossible to read when lit by direct sunlight. At night the display is overly bright.
On the buttons I find that the white lettering on green background is easy to read in broad daylight, but difficult to read at night despite their illumination. Fortunately, the buttons are arranged well. Youll quickly learn to find the one you want.
The clock is displayed when the ignition (or ignition accessory function) is turned on, even when the radio is turned off.
The 7870 has all the standard features you would expect to find, including volume, bass, treble, balance and fade controls. These are all fairly easy to operate with the exception that its very difficult to turn the radio off.
Alpine advertises the 7870 as having 45W per (4) channel power, but the RMS power output is 20W per channel. I dont know why car stereo manufacturers feel the need to inflate their power output claims. 20W per channel is more than adequate. I bet this was a mans idea.
A loudness switch allows you to compensate for poor speakers and/or the selective attenuation of low and high frequencies as you turn the volume down and a mute switch decreases the volume by 10 dB or so.
The Bass Engine replaces regular bass and treble controls, allowing you to emphasize or attenuate the bass starting at frequencies around 60, 80, 100 or 200 Hz and change the slew rate (dB vs. frequency) of the in four steps from shallow to steep. The treble is handled similarly, allowing emphasis or attenuation in steps centered around frequencies of 10, 12.5, 15 or 17.5 kHz. This is pretty neat.
There is a single pair (for left and right) of RCA preamplifier outputs to an optional amplifier if you want to rock your car.
There are 12 FM (arranged in two groups of 6) and 6 AM presets, i.e., FM1, FM2 and AM. The six frequency preset buttons are conveniently arranged along the bottom of the player, but rather annoyingly displayed as F1, F2, etc.
You cant listen to satellite radio with this player.
The CD player has pause, fast forward and reverse, skip forward and backward, random play and preview controls. You can play home-brewed CD-R and CD-RW audio disks in addition to bona fide record label disks. There is no built-in MP3 playback facility.
The CD player remembers to pick up where it left off after you stop the car although the ignition or accessory ignition switch option has to be turned on in order to insert or remove a CD.
The CD player has excellent immunity to skipping.
The sound quality is very good.
1 year parts and labor.
Summary of the most annoying quirks
The display is the weakest feature of this player. Other minor irritation include the difficulty of turning it off and the fact that you have to power the player up in order to insert or remove CDs. There are some other idiosyncracies, such as its losing the sound for a couple seconds when you are listening to an FM radio station if you eject a CD. The engineers must have been asleep at the design table. The 7870 is okay, but it's not great.
Value for money
The Alpine 7870 offers good value for money, especially being that its the cheapest model they make. You get the cachet of the Alpine name at the lowest price. You get a good, solid player with excellent bass and treble controls.
This is not to say that you couldn't find better value from another manufacturer, but you could do much worse.