BMW Navigation Install

Man of Honour
Joined
17 Oct 2002
Posts
158,555
Hi guys,

As many of you know a navigation install is something I've wanted to do to my car since the dawn of time. Once I'd decided to keep it for the forseeable future last year I decided that it really was about time to stop talking about it and start doing something about it. I thought some of you might appreciate a writeup - everything I'm about to say applies almost equally to the E53 X5 and the E46 3 Series as well.

Shortly after my last double DIN thread where I decided to buy a Sony unit, one of the chinese manufacturers updated the E39 GPS system they sold. It had moved from being a crappy looking pile of junk into something that actually looked worth considering. It's an absolute ripoff at £600-£700 depending on the version but then there are limited options for what i want so what can you do?

I decided that if it wasn't a pile of crap I'd much rather have an option like that, therefore what I'd do is order one and send it back under the DSR and buy the Sony if it sucked.

That was November.

It took an age to come out - the E46 ones appeared first - and finally, this weekend, I actually got it fitted.

Before I ordered I had a choice - there are two units. One is Android powered, one is Windows powered. The obvious choice was Android. I mean how totally cool would it be to have a load of apps in a car stereo? You could play Angrybirds! So, with this in mind I ordered a Windows unit instead.


Why? Once I'd got over how cool Android was I realised I just wanted a functional, good looking navigation system to rival the functionality of the OEM system but with more modern features. The Windows version will autoboot Nav software so you never see its backend - you just have Nav. This seemed more sensible really.

First impressions were quite different to what I was expecting. It was actually well made. The quality of the plastics was excellent - the volume control knobs were proper rubber not cheap plastic and it looked like it would blend in with the dash brilliantly. First test passed!

So after a weekend of faff, it was fitted.

IMAG0426.jpg


What do I think?

Some of it is absolutely sensational. Some of it is truely shockingly crap. But overall the stuff thats crap is easy to ignore leaving behind a system thats actually pretty good. The SD card/USB interface is beyond dire - it looks like something from 1994 and I will never, ever use it.

But the iPod interface, Radio and menu system looks and works really well - and the navigation side is simply incredible. It runs two seperate systems in one - one for nav, one for the radio/music. Switching to nav is a simple button press - no lag, no delay, it just instantly swaps over. The nav side runs Windows and I'm running a Navigation package called iGo Primo which is absolutely excellent - its modern, looks great and is absolutely crammed with functionality.

I'll let the pics do the rest of the talking!

IMAG0442.jpg


This is the basic navigation view, you can have 2d or 3d. It'll also just show the position of the car when no route is set. It has full 3d mode with 3d buildings and elevation models like the newer BMW CIC iDrive. Though I've not really bothered getting that working yet.

IMAG0443.jpg


This is the screen I leave the unit on 99% of the time - 2d map mode. It autoboots to this location (you can choose) - so thats what i see in the dash. Music is all controlled via the steering wheel controls, but I can switch into music mode if I want to tweak.

IMAG0440.jpg


IMAG0441.jpg


The unit has a seperate radio receiver for TMC signals and Igo Primo supports TMC via Trafficmaster. This means it picks up realtime traffic information and can re-route dynamically as a result, or offer detours, or take road closures into account when setting up a new route.

IMAG0448.jpg


It's also got all the features you'd expect from a modern nav system, like lane guidance, sign display, etc etc.

IMAG0446.jpg


This is the iPod interface. It looks good and works well. Sadly though the album art you can see is.... a picture of some albums. It is entirely static and doesnt change. How irritatingly crap - it would have been very easy just to have a generic background that didnt look like fake album art. Grrr. Not a huge deal though as I only see this screen when changing music etc.

IMAG0444.jpg


This is the Radio interface. It may be familiar to some as it appears to be a direct ripoff of the VW RNS systems. I guess I'm pleased they decided to copy a good interface rather than make a crap one themselves.

IMAG0445.jpg


This is the menu. It looks quite nice but in practice you rarely see it for more than a few seconds when selecting options once you've finished the initial setup.

IMAG0447.jpg


This is the visual PDC. When you engage reverse, it pops up and visually shows the distance things are from the sensors. It works perfectly with my factory PDC. Touch the screen to bring up the reversing camera image. Sadly once you disengage reverse it goes back to normal which is fine if you've got an E46 but it means I cant really use it for front PDC.

There is also an OBC screen which reads info from the IBUS - displays coolant temperature, outside temperature and litres left in the tank. On E46's you also get remaining fuel range and average economy as well. On VW's you get oil temp etc.

So there we go. I'm really happy with it - I think it looks great. It's quirky in places but once you get used to the odd randomly nonsensical 'feature' and you pretend it doesnt have the horribly crappy SD card/USB interface, it is in my opinion the absolute best solution for Navigation in an E39, E46 or E53. It's not perfect - there are some boneheaded 'features' like the fact the radio presets on the unit only work in radio mode (ie they dont do anything if you are in nav). Annoying, but you can use the steering wheel to move presets instead. Igo can also get a bit sluggish at times but I've ordered a Class 10 SD card to replace the Class 2 one I run it from atm.

Thoughts and questions are welcome :)
 
Last edited:
Soldato
Joined
26 Jun 2011
Posts
4,902
Is it worth changing to if you have the factory nav unit?

( I take it that the Sony SOT works great with this unit :p )
 
Man of Honour
Joined
17 Oct 2002
Posts
158,555
I honestly cannot answer that question. A lot of the American guys are changing from the OEM Nav to this. I probably wouldn't as I'm such an OEM fanatic I'd tolerate the fact the OEM nav is very dated simply because it also works exactly as intended and has no quirks. I'd find it very difficult to decide to rip-out the BMW nav. Starting from scratch the idea of fitting a load of second hand BMW nav gear for a 2003 nav experience for the same money became completely daft, but if you've already got Nav... hmm.

It works with the SOT, yes :)
 
Soldato
Joined
12 Jul 2007
Posts
16,286
Location
South East
Looks great, and very OEM! I assume updates will be released in due course which will address some of the quirks, it being a new product and all?
 
Associate
Joined
2 Jan 2009
Posts
1,968
Location
London
looks decent, maybe a bit opel vectra but doesn't look that much out the place in the dashboard.
what model is it and where can you get them from?
 
Soldato
Joined
29 Jun 2004
Posts
12,926
When you mentioned in the other thead you were going to buy the Sony unit, I was concerned it'll look naff. This looks great, and has fantastic functionality. Good stuff.

BTW did you change the centre console to leather, or was that done in an earlier mod? :confused:
 
Man of Honour
Joined
17 Oct 2002
Posts
158,555
How does it compare to the BMW OEM, specifically the last version before the iDrive?

It is better than the BMW navigation in every possible way other than lack of quirky bugs and interesting 'features', if you know what I mean. The interface is more modern, the navigation system is light years better, the map graphics are far better, it has native ipod support, etc etc.

Where the BMW system is better is where it... 'just works' and no allowances need to be made for quirky stuff.

Infact it's better than the Navigation I had in my 335i - which was the latest CIC based nav - though again, user interface in that was better than this.

As you'd expect really - the navigation in this can be as good as you want as you can select any Windows or Android based navigation package depending on your version and it's no secret that Tomtom, Igo, Copilot etc are considered better than most OEM navigation systems.
 
Top Bottom