It’s CES 2018 week, and day one is starting to deliver us some tasty Apple CarPlay news.
Today, Alpine has announced its next upcoming CarPlay receiver – the iLX-F309. Alpine’s new receiver offers something a little different however, and the clue is in its nickname – HALO9. The 9 represent the 9-inches of its large capacitive display, whilst the HALO part references that the display ‘hovers’ in front of the dashboard whilst it’s fixed in a standard Single-DIN slot. This makes the iLX-F309 an ideal upgrade for vehicles without a Double-DIN slot.
“Alpine blazed the trail with the first vehicle-specific 9-inch systems back in 2014, targeted to trucks and SUVs, but consumers have continued to request a model that will fit into a variety of vehicles,” said Mike Anderson, vice president and general manager, aftermarket business unit, Alpine Electronics of America, Inc. “The iLX-F309 represents a new step as it brings the 9-inch screen into a number of vehicles without the need for custom installation.”
Because the receiver has a display that protrudes the dashboard, it allows even the most novice installer the ability to install the HALO9 without the need of a professional or messing about with new bezel surrounds, whilst the required single-DIN slot allows the installer the ability to fitted the receiver in a number of older vehicles. Well, that’s what Alpine wants you to believe anyway.
Without many images from Alpine’s announcement, it’s hard to judge how aesthetically pleasing and practical this receiver will be in your vehicle. Will the large 9″ display block important switches, or get in the way of accessing various features of your dashboard, behind it? Alpine has thought of this. The iLX-F309 allows for some adjustment of the display, but with 20mm front to back movement, 30mm up or down movement, and 45-degrees of tilt, it might not be enough to truly manuver the display away from important features of your dashboard.
Similar to the iLX-107/700/007, the iLX-F309 is a mech-less design, meaning no CD/DVD drive. It is mainly aimed at the smartphone user, which means it supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Google Assistant. BT Plus Bluetooth is also supported for audio streaming, however without a Wi-Fi chip inside, there will be no wireless CarPlay or Android Auto. *unhappy face*
Disappointing Resolution Strikes Again
Whilst we’re on disappointing bullet-points, I was a little shocked to read that the iLX-F309 comes with a 9″ WVGA display, meaning again, we get a rather low 480 pixel high resolution. This resolution is pretty low for a 9″ screen. Even the first generation iPads, which was a similar 9.7″ screen, had a 1024×768 resolution – so expect a rather pixelated display. No doubt Alpine is trying to keep costs low, to widen the adoption rate of this particular system.
Props to Alpine for offering something a little different. The iLX-F309 has a number of optional modules to expand its feature-set. With built-in HD radio, SiriusXM ready, a large 9″ capacitive display, single-DIN install bay, AUX, HDMI and USB inputs, the iLX-F309 HALO9 could be on your short-list if install options are limited, and you can work with the hovering 9″ display over your dashboard.
The iLX-F309 releases in February (let’s hope we don’t get a repeat of last year’s iLX-107 February release date) and it will retail for $1,100.