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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
PLEASE NOTE: There will be two "reviews" of the head-unit once it is installed. One will be more of a "first impression" going over the basic features/intergration and the other will be a long term use (1-2 months) review.

Go to THIS THREAD if you are looking for how to upgrade your S100's software in order to get new features or to fix some pesky issues.
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Hello fine patrons of SLKWorld!

A while back I posted a thread complaining about winter - which has started to disperse recently. As the snow recedes and the weather outside becomes *acceptable* the car's hibernation will soon come to an end... meaning it will soon be MOD TIME!!!!

One of the more major mods I am planning on doing is the install of a chinese/ebay head-unit. For those who are not familiar with the idea of a chinese or ebay head-unit here is a quick summary of what they are; a cost-effective OEM looking plug and play alternative to high-end aftermarket head-units.

Seeing as lots of people on the forum post asking about these head-units I thought I would do a comprehensive overview of my particular variant (referred to as a "S100"). Hopefully once this post is complete with reviews it should alleviate some concerns regarding the quality of the head-unit and it's viability as a A20/Comand replacement.

Seeing as it will be a week or so before I can install here are some pictures of the head-unit in the flesh.



This here is the HU along with the box it came in, the manual, and the remote control. The English in the manual is better than you would expect it to be, all of the instructions are clearly laid out and easy(ish) to understand.



This is a closeup of the remote. The remote, while a cool novelty, is completely redundant and has no use in the SLK installation. May be worthwhile keeping it as a backup in the unlikely case of the front panels buttons failing.



Here is a comparison of the finish of the HU compared directly with the finish on the facelift control panel. As you can see the finish of the HU is dead on, looks 100% OEM. The buttons on the HU have very similar if not the same "weight" or feel as those on the control panel. Overall I would have to say I am impressed with the fit and finish.



Here is a picture of the back. The S100 model I have uses a "modular" interface for the cables and external features. Some aftermarket HUs come with all the cables pre-plugged in. The modular set up allows you to reduce clutter and have better cable management to reduce EM interference. The different ports and their respective cables are clearly labelled and well documented as to where they plug in and their function so you can omit and plug in features as you please. Currently I have plugged in the iPod integration, USB input cable, Steering wheel control cable, the "HU to quadlock" cable, and radio adapter. The head unit came with a GPS receiver which I will plug in once I have run the cable from the mirror assembly (where the OEM one goes).

The actual install guide will go up in the DIY section but will be linked here. The reviews will be posted in the reserved posts below the OP once they are ready.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
First impressions reveiw

On Friday March.28, 2014 I successfully installed the S100 head-unit into my car with no problems whatsoever!

IN SHORT: I am initially very impressed with the headunit's looks and functionality. I am optimistic that the long term review will be a positive one.

Here is the before:


IIIITTTSSSS ALIIIVEEEEEEEEE:


Here is the after:



Here is a picture of the button back lighting, matches the rest of the car:


Now as I said in my main post this is not going to be a detailed in depth review. I am going to talk about my experiences installing the HU and my interactions with its functionality during my two hour cruise/attunement session. If you want my detailed in depth review you will have to wait a few months once I have gotten used to it and have fully completed the installation.

The installation is 95% complete. The only outstanding factor is that I need to re-position my GPS receiver from the bowels of the car to the proper OEM position behind the rear veiw mirror. To do this proper I need to be able to remove the A-pillar trim, which requires the roof to go down. I am going to wait until it is warmer out before I go topless so the seals have a chance to loosen up. I also plan to install a flush mount for the Aux/USB in which will happen once I remove the glovebox to run the GPS through and change the cabin filter.

Besides those minor complications the installation went perfectly. Completely 100% plug and play. Literally. The hardest part was removing the trim which thanks to THIS video was a easy and smooth process!

Upon booting up the unit you will be met with this screen:


This screen is your "home" screen, it is where you access all the functions of the head unit. As you can see the main features are:
  1. Media - where all your locally stored and PHYSICALLY connected media is managed and interacted with (ie: USB, iPod, Aux, etc)
  2. POP - "Picture in Picture" is a special feature to this headunit which allows two functions to run simeltaneously. (ie: Screen can be half music interface and half Nav interface)
  3. Radio - Pretty self explanitory, the interface is really easy to use
  4. Browser - An old version of IE that runs on WinCE, only works if you tether your phone to the HU as a data source or if you get a SIM and plug it into the designated slot. Avoid this feature like the plauge.
  5. Navi - Launches whatever WinCE compatible navigation app you have on the GPS micro sim. The unit came with Navigo8 2011 Q3 edition.
  6. BT - Your bluetooth functions including handsfree calling and music streaming.
  7. Tool - A bunch of novelty applications

Media menu:


Tool menu:


Navigation screen:


Example of POP function:


The unit is very responsive and the UI is easy to grasp. There are some functions that have redundancies in the software (ie: Screen shut off and head unit shut off) but for the most part each buttons serves its own purpose.

The most important button on the head unit is the SRC button, which is akin to the "home" button on an iPhone. This brings you back to the main menu where you can choose your source or which action you wish to take.

The GPS receiver is a powerful little unit. It was able to get a signal (half strength at best mind you) when it was deep within the bowels of my car. The supplied navigation software is very user friendly and intuitive. If you dig through the options you can even get it to warn you if you are exceeding the posted speed limit and to warn you via a sound if you are approaching a known speed cam intersection. I have yet to test both functions as my signal was not consistent enough, but I am interested to see how it will perform.

The bluetooth streaming works well, the audio quality is acceptable. The DvD audio quality (which is what I can compare with the stock HU) is considerably better sounding than the stock unit. The difference is not night and day but it is substantial enough to make note of.

The BT calling works well too, my phone book downloaded in a few seconds automatically after connecting my phone and giving the head unit permission to connect. During my test call my brother said the built in mic (there is an external one that comes with the headunit as well) was "good enough", but that "you can tell you are on a bluetooth microphone". So take that as you will. My steering wheel controls worked 100% no problems whatsoever, I was even able to initiate and end calls using my steering wheel controls!

That is all I can think of at the moment, I am tired and have a few group projects I need to work on tomorrow so I need to get to sleep. Hope my insights helps those who are considering purchasing one of these headunits! If you really need to know my final verdict it will be a month or two before I write my in-depth review.

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Long Term Reveiw

After more than two months and 6,000 miles driven since I installed this head unit...

If you have an audio 20 (no LCD screen) then this is a VERY good, viable, and high-value replacement which takes half a decade off the car from an interior features perspective. I am very satisfied with my purchase and would recommend anyone with an A20 consider to this as a replacement.

PROS:
- Cost effective
- Looks 100% OEM
- Feels OEM
- Majority of the UI looks good
- Lots of features
- EASY (literally plug and play) installation of the headunit

CONS:
- UI is cheesy and hard to use in some areas
- Certain quirks in the software make operation... interesting in certain scenarios.
- GPS software is not 100% legit, so updating it will take you on a strange and wondrous quest through the internet.
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Besides my initial observations there are a few quirks, mostly dealing with volume;
  1. If you start streaming BT audio and you switch from the BT screen to another function the audio gets lowered by around 20% for no reason. The only way to avoid this is by opening your desired function (ex: Nav) first and then setting up your BT audio, and then using the POP function to prioritize the BT audio, allowing it to maintain its full volume level.
  2. When changing the GPS volume levels the head unit must be restarted for them to take effect.
  3. Sometimes after you finsih a bluetooth call you have to manually restart the audio by pushing the "Media" button. Once pressed it will automatically start playing from here it was before you took/initiated the call.

I also noticed a few odd things with the software:
  1. The GPS software is brilliant 99.9% of the time, but sometimes it derps pretty hard.
  2. The bluetooth software does a brilliant job of import contacts from android and iPhones alike... it just does not differentiate one phones contacts from another (ie: it shows EVERYONES contacts).
  3. Navigating to music on a SD card can be borderline perilous as it requires a lot of manual inputs while driving.

From a hardware standpoint the finish is still 100%, the buttons still look and feel great. My only gripe is the screen glares like nobodies business in direct sunlight. Wearing polarized sunglasses makes it impossible to see when combined with direct sunlight. Curro101 has found a $18 solution to this problem and will let us know if it works well enough or not.

In addition to my previous thoughts and insights on the head unit that is all I really have to say about it.

Thank you for your time, hope you enjoy whatever solution you choose for your aftermarket head-unit!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The streets are clearing up at a decent pace now... Just really sloppy out if anything. May take the car out of storage by next Friday weather permitting.

Expect the install to be the weekend of the 22nd. Sorry to keep you all waiting!
 

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Which Head Unit do you have?
Do you have the Harman Kardon audio?
Are you an audiophile?

Just trying to get a picture as to where you're coming from, thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Which Head Unit do you have?
As specified in the OP I have the "R171 S100 headunit" (search on ebay without quotations for the HU).

*edit: Found link http://www.ebay.com/itm/A8-S100-Car...Video_In_Dash_Units_w_GPS&hash=item1c3adfd942

Do you have the Harman Kardon audio?
Nope, for reasons I will explain n my response to the next question. If you do have HK in your car the HU comes with a AV harness (one of the modular attachments) that plugs into the back that allows the use of an external amp. The consensus of forum members with HK that have installed these HUs is that an aftermarket amp is required, the HK amp does not work with non-OEM setups. This also means your stereo system will need to get re-wired.

Are you an audiophile?
Yes, this may seem odd as I do not have the premium audio in my car, but I am a prolific audiophile. For example. my gaming rig has a custom sound card in it that allows native use of my Sennheiser HD598's 1/4 aux jack for minimum signal dilution. In addition to that, I also have the cable snaked so it does not coil to prevent EM interference. I also have duplicates of every song on my computer in FLAC and MP3, only because MP3s are necessary for limited capacity devices.

My pedantic-ness having been proven, there are several reasons why I do not have premium audio in my car.
  1. Few audio players in cars support uncompressed audio
  2. The only method of input in a car where there is no signal degradation is USB/SD card, which the R171 never had from the factory
  3. The top is always down on my car unless it is raining, so the acoustics are usually crap

That being said, when it comes down to it I am indifferent about audio in my convertible sports car. If I had wanted a concert hall on wheels I would of gotten an S-Class. The main motivation for installing this HU is one of an interest in technology and safety (bluetooth intergration).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Captains log, Stardate 43187.6. It has snowed 8 inches where I live, which is utter ********. Unless the weather warms up significantly I may not be able to drive my car for a few weeks. My patience is running thin.
 

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Captains log, Stardate 43187.6. It has snowed 8 inches where I live, which is utter ********. Unless the weather warms up significantly I may not be able to drive my car for a few weeks. My patience is running thin.
Easy answer. Move to California :)
 

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I feel your pain. It snow yesterday and now they are calling for for 10cm tomorrow. This has been a long and cold winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I feel your pain. It snow yesterday and now they are calling for for 10cm tomorrow. This has been a long and cold winter.
Tell me about it :( The roads are clear enough now that I would consider taking my SLK out of storage....

Butwearesupposedtogetsnowtonightanditis********.
 
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