While choosing a flip out head unit for your car, the first thing you need to focus on is compatibility. You don’t want to purchase an expensive 2-DIN stereo head complete with Bluetooth and 10-band EQ support, only to find out that it won’t fit in your dash. To give you an idea, most cars will easily accept a 1-DIN unit (measures 8” x 2” for the front panel). You can fit a smaller stereo head inside a larger mounting bay with the help of aftermarket mounting kits, but you cannot fit a larger head unit inside a bay that is designed to accept a smaller size (you can, but it will require extensive modification).
Once you’ve decided which stereo head unit size you need for your car, you can go ahead and select the proper model for your needs based on features. In this article, we shall focus on the flip out head units- these are almost always single DIN head units types and carry a slide-out hinged tray on the top to which a touch screen panel is mounted.
The touch screen panel can be anywhere from 5” to 7” in size, and you should make sure that the motorized mechanism is reliable and smooth before you purchase any type of flip out head unit. In terms of features, you’re going to need the following basics- Bluetooth, multi-band EQ support, hands-free calling and audio streaming, USB connectivity, AUX input, RCA preamp output. Higher end models will offer better RMS power output per channel, along with more advanced EQ options, and subwoofer controls.
Make sure the head unit is compatible with both Android as well as Apple devices if you plan on syncing it with your phone. We have listed some of the top flip-out radios on the market right now, so let’s dig in.
Our Pick: PIONEER Flip Out AVH-X7800BT 7″ 1-Din DVD Receiver with Bluetooth
The Pioneer AVH-X7800BT is our top flip out radio pick for various reasons. It has one feature that you will not find on any other stereo head on this list, and that is a Dual-Bluetooth connection. What it allows you to do, is connect two mobile phones or Bluetooth compatible devices to your car stereo at the same time. This has multiple uses, for example- you can use your phone for hands-free calling while downloading a song or video from another phone or Bluetooth-compatible device such as a mp3 player, iPod, etc. You can also connect two phones at the same time if you wish, and even receive or make calls simultaneously on both.
The face plate is detachable and theft-resistant, while the high-quality 24-bit DAC pairs up finely with the powerful preamp unit inside to deliver audiophile grade experience through all 4 channels. You can run your subwoofer off the RCA preamp output, and there are an advanced sub and EQ controls right on the main menu. It even supports Google Voice and Siri Eyes Free technology. The 6” x 3” WVGA touchscreen features an 800 x 480 resistive panel and displays crisp colors, while the powerful NEX UI feels extremely smooth and responsive, and offers plenty of customization options.
So are there any cons in this seemingly flawless 1-DIN car stereo unit? Well, as a matter of fact, there are. Firstly, you need to check the depth of the mounting bay in your car since some older European models might not be able to fit this unit. There are some AUX and RCA connectors on the back, and even though PIONEER added those over the rear end to reduce clutter on the front panel, it makes the mounting process a nightmare for some customers with older cars. To make the installation process even more complicated, the main power/speaker connector cable is really short.
Runner Up: Power Acoustik PTID-8920B 7-Inch Flip-Out Touchscreen Monitor and USB/SD Input
If you want a no-frills, reliable, reasonably priced 1-DIN stereo head for your car, this might just be the one you’re looking for. It uses a high clarity 7” WVGA resistive touch panel which is not the best for watching HD movies on the go while driving your car (why would you ever want to do that?), but packs enough clarity for you to get a nice view of that tree or pole behind your car as you are trying to park in a tight space. Yes, you can hook up this stereo head with your rear-view or parking camera.
It also packs a decent AM/FM combo radio, so you can listen to the local news and music channels in the morning on your way to the office, and you can use the subwoofer controls on the front panel to crank up the bass while going for a drive with your friends and family. This flip out radio is compatible with both Android as well as Apple devices and comes with Bluetooth support for hands-free calling and audio streaming.
There are not a whole lot of cons in terms of actual hardware, but the software interface is somewhat lacking in terms of the options that it offers. Not to mention the fact that you will experience a slight drop in bass when listening to music on Bluetooth.
On the Budget: BOSS AUDIO BV9982I Single-DIN 7 inch Motorized Touchscreen DVD Player Receiver
Don’t have a bucketful of cash to spend on the latest fancy flip out car stereo unit? Well, you can still get one of these- the BOSS AUDIO BV9982I packs plenty of features to keep you happy and comes at a reasonable price. It delivers plenty of RMS wattage to drive even larger car speakers, and there are multiple I/O options such as- AUX, Bluetooth, CD/DVD, RCA, etc. You can control the subwoofer from the main menu and the EQ controller is pretty decent. This unit can also be hooked up to your rear camera, and the detachable front panel is theft resistant. The motorized display seems responsive and durable, while the entire body of this unit feels well-built despite the cheap cost.
Installation can be a tedious process thanks to the unconventional power connectors and weirdly complicated instruction manual that takes hours to decipher for the average human being. Also, the display resolution is sort of low, but still manageable. Other than that, there really are no major flaws in this device and once you get it installed, everything should work perfectly fine.
On the Budget: Soundstream VIR-7830B 7830B Single-Din Bluetooth Flip Up Car Stereo
The market is full of so-called “budget stereo heads” which are actually immensely cut-down models featuring cheap internal DAC units and low-quality Bluetooth modules. Finding a good budget single DIN flip out head unit can be quite tedious. But Soundstream is a manufacturer that specializes in manufacturing low-cost car stereo solutions for the average middle-class consumer. Their VIR-7830B packs a great motorized 7” touchscreen display, Bluetooth, CD/DVD player, and comes with USB as well as AUX and RCA ports. The detachable face plate prevents people from running away with your brand new car stereo, and the broad array of connectivity options means that you’ll be able to stream music/videos with ease while talking in hands-free mode.
There is one major issue with this unit, which appears to be a firmware bug rather than an actual hardware deficiency. You cannot navigate through the home screen menu or change any settings if your phone is connected to the head unit via Bluetooth. With a USB connection, though, everything works fine and you can share folders between your phone and the SD card on this stereo unit without any issues at all. The sound quality is nothing great, but we would call it satisfactory for the price.