Supersize That Car Radio

If you haven’t visited a car radio shop in a while, you may be surprised at the large screen sizes on some of the new head units. Where once the double DIN 7-inch screen was the gold standard, today radios displays can approach 9- or 10-inches.

The supersized displays are made possible as they are designed to “float” in front of the dashboard rather than cram into a DIN opening in the dash. The screens may angle in or out so they can avoid certain knobs or vents that might protrude from the dash.

Aftermarket companies are essentially following the trend in new cars, which have moved to 8-inch screens, and are due, over the next several years, to step up to 10-inch screens, said analyst Greg Basich of Strategy Analytics.  Some new vehicles from  Mercedes, Tesla, Dodge and Honda (in Europe) are offering screens in the 12-inch range.

M-Byte 49-inch screen
M-Byte is coming to the US with a 48-inch screen

Byton, a new car company based in China is expected to debut in the US in 2021, the M-Byte SUV with a 48-inch display that runs the length of the dashboard.  Vehicle supplier Harman showed a prototype full dash display at CES 2018. And BMW has shown a large, nearly full dash display as a concept for the iNEXT.

In the aftermarket, Sony in August announced a 9-inch radio designed to fit almost any car. The model XAV-AX8000 is due to ship in December. The body of the radio is single DIN sized but the screen can hover over the dashboard and is adjustable in three directions.  The unit includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Google Assistant and should carry a price of $599.

Alpine 9-inch radio
Alpine is offering its second Halo9 9-inch radio at a lower price than the original

Alpine was first of the top brands with a 9 inch radio back in early 2018. Its first Halo 9 offered a floating screen and CarPlay and comes without a CD or DVD player at a street price of $999 (model iLX-309).   Then in March of this year, Alpine followed up with the lower cost iLX-F259,offering many of the same features except it loses the HDMI port and HD Radio and it has a smaller built-in equalizer. The new version offers a more smartphone-like display and the price has dropped to an everyday $599.

Pioneer this year began offering an 8-inch floating radio, the DMH-C5500NEX that can completely detach from it’s single DIN chassis. It requires adapter kits by Metra to fit into specific vehicles.  Also without a CD or DVD player, the unit offers CarPlay and Android Auto and carries an everyday price of $649.

Lesser known aftermarket brands offer even larger screens. Linkswell fields a line of decks with 10.1-inch screens. Power Acoustik offers three models with 10.6-inch screens and its sister brand Soundstream has a 10.3-inch model. Concept offers floating radios with 8- and 10-inch screens.

Another supplier, well known to car audio installers because they supply radio installation kits, is AAMP Global.  The company jumped into the radio market for the first time with an 8-inch radio called the ELEV8 at $799.

Top image: Sony XAV-AX8000 with 9-inch screen due in December

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