the alpine setup you speak about cost you how much?...everything they sell is piece item so i know a system like that was at least 5000$
most modern high end audio systems basically ARE computers, specifically designed & programed for it's pupose alone, & are superior in its function to a pc running xp that runs one program for audio, & then another for navigation & another for a dvd, multi tasking, booting, re-booting locking up etc. my most familiarity is with alpine, but kenwood, pioneer, clarion, eclipse & others all use some sort of propritary comunication, or link, to comunicate & include processors & computers operating on there own operating system kind of, alpine uses I-net & if audio video is a top priority, my experience is that no carputer can match a custom computerized dedicated system such as a high end alpine install in ease of use, reliability, & that "instant and always there" feel that you don't really have with a carputer alone install. A high end complete alpine system now a days allows me to have full control of all aspects of my system always instant & a touch away with one "do it all"remote control & a touchscreen. I can control everything with extreme ease & not ever have a "bug" or a "glitch". I never have to re-boot my alpine & as far as navigation is concerned there is no real comparison between co-pilots latest offering & alpines far superior navigation( I can run both simultaniously & I keep the co-pilot as a back up, like i'll ever need it).) I can change what is being displayed on the rear dropdown with three taps of the front screen, play a dvd in the rear while listening to xm up front, while navigating, switch to another dvd for up front in a 6 disc dvd changer, touch the screen a few times & bring up my 31 band 1/3rd octave eq's for tweeking, etc... now while it is true that you could do most if not all of this with a carputer it will never be as fluid & transparent in it's interface, & will never share the same rock solid always there feel or work like it was made for this alone, & the consitency of the sound quality to me is better with the alpine than a pc alone. I can play a mp3 from the pc, but in going through the alpine it is treated with "media expander" that alpine developed to increase the dynamic range of compressed digital files. (I'm not knocking carputers at all & I installed my first car pc almost 10 years ago, complete with a 486 dx4 75mhz, & a 10" tube monitor made for point of sale use.) alot of people here are actually installing carputers for a grand or two or even less that kinda emulate that high end system, not to mention do quite a few things an ordinary high end system couldn't do, but if your'e going to talk about what's better, to me my system is comprised of a complete high end alpine touch screen system, suplimented by my touch screen pc system. it gives me the best of both worlds & a versiatility & reliability that a pc alone couldn't provide. I use the alpine for all day to day radio, dvd, cd, xm,nav, etc...& the pc is there for my mp3 library, misc. programs & for the ocasional spur of the moment on-line research, or for bidding on stuff on ebay while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, etc... I do realize that money is a huge factor in this for most of us, & i do admit that my "combo" system probably costs more than a lot of peoples whole cars, but if money wasn't the issue, is there anyone on this forum that actually belives that a carputer alone is superior or even equal to a high end system?