One of the most common upgrades to a car’s factory stereo is the addition of a large touchscreen display. These “infotainment” head units give drivers and passengers a detailed look at navigation details, diagnostic information, and, of course, all forms of entertainment. Smartphone-specific interfaces like Android Auto or Apple’s CarPlay mimic their respective operating systems, essentially putting every function of your smartphone right onto your dash. But fitting a large screen can be problematic—or even impossible—in cars with only a single-DIN slot available, because there’s simply not enough dashboard height to fit the large screen. This is the problem Alpine looked to address with the debut of the iLX-F309 Halo9 mech-less head unit.
Single-DIN receivers with large built-in touchscreens have come before, but they’re generally clumsy devices that require the screen to fold down and retract back into the receiver whenever the vehicle was turned off, then slide out and flip back up when it was turned back on. This process took a few seconds every time, and the mechanism was just one more thing that could malfunction. Plus, these screens topped out at about seven inches. The iLX-F309 provides a rigid mounting style more akin to a factory touchscreen, while offering a nine-inch screen, which is an increase of about 65% total screen real estate. The display “hovers” over your dashboard, and while it offers a full range of tilt adjustability, it has no complicated powered mechanism to retract or extend it (hence the “mech-less” in Alpine’s description of it).
We got our hands on the Alpine iLX-F309 just before its official release, and have already installed it into a vehicle. Check out the following videos to see how the Alpine Halo9 is installed into a factory dashboard, to get a better look at the finished product and to hear our first impressions of the new receiver.