Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The UTE series, produced by Alpine, consists of a mechless head unit. Mechless means that it doesn't have a CD player. This type of car audio head units are often called digital media receivers. This style of head unit looks to the future and a purely digital-media age without internal mechanisms that can wear out over time. The UTE-42BT specifically focuses on playing files from your media devices through your car audio system.
Unfortunately, the Alpine UTE-42BT is not in the future yet, but Alpine could make some improvements now to help it get there. The sound quality is just above average, and that is part of what really drags this unit down in our rankings. It does have a three-band equalizer, as well as a few preset equalizer curves, to help improve the sound quality, but only specifically in your car. You can adjust the existing settings to maximize the acoustics in your car and help set the sound to your preferences.
This head unit does not have a CD player, but it does offer other ways for you to play music. First of all, the Alpine UTE-42BT has Bluetooth capability. With the included microphone, you can stream music, and make and receive phone calls as well. This is particularly useful as more and more states enact hands-free laws. The front auxiliary port gives you access to MP3 files on any media device with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the USB connection gives you access to MP3 and WMA files. The USB connection has the dual purpose of charging your devices.
When it comes to the conveniences that make a head unit customizable or easier to use, the Alpine UTE-42BT also falls short. You can't adjust the brightness or change the color of the displays or buttons. The faceplate is detachable for easy concealment, which does help protect against theft. The head unit is remote control ready, which means that if you want a remote control for the Alpine UTE-42BT, you must purchase it separately.
Alpine has a phone number but no way to reach the company by email. However, Alpine does maintain active Facebook and Twitter accounts where customer service agents answer queries. The UTE-42BT comes with a one-year warranty, and Alpine stores a copy of the user manual on the main website.
The Alpine UTE-42BT lacks a CD player and the sound quality to really make it a good head unit for car stereo systems. Bluetooth capability and the varied connections do help redeem this unit, but its lack of customizable features drags it down again. Ultimately, the UTE-42BT is a basic mechless head unit among the many models we compare in our car audio reviews.