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Old 05-08-2008, 03:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Date registered: Apr 2008
Vehicle: 2008 SLK 280
Location: Mountain View, CA
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Aftermarket Integrated Nav installed

When we bought our SLK 280 we ended up buying a "bridge" vehicle at a killer deal but it didn't have the command unit nor nav. After a bit of searching around we found the Kenwood DNX8120 to be the perfect solution. We had it installed yesterday and were extremely pleased with the result. Here are some pictures:

This is what the unit looks like with no power applied:




This is the the command menu looks like once power is applied. You have three different skins to choose from. This one seemed the least annoying to us. (Sorry about the blurred picture. I was shooting without flash to prevent glare back from the screen for this picture):




This is a picture of the iPod readout when connected and playing a song. What really impressed me was that the album art shows up on the screen. All those hours of grooming the song tags were not in vain. (Also note the glare from the flash... this is why the remaining pictures will be blurry as I wanted to avoid the glare). The iPod integration is perfect, even allowing for playlists and such to be selected.




This is a picture of the blue-tooth interface with the phone. Since the touch screen controlls the phone nicely (answering or calling) I had the phone buttons on the steering wheel programmed to change songs on the iPod or stations when on the radio tuner. You can add up to five phones to the interface. If both my wife and I are in the car with both of our phones, the first one that was programmed in (hers, of course) will be the one that integrates.




I'm super impressed with how intuitively the blue tooth phone interface works. This unit supports SMS and even DTMF tones for all those tech support hotlines out there. Time to add photos to the contacts!




This is the GPS portion of the unit. (no, it doesn't show my garage as a street )



This is the unit after pushing the eject button so that we can toss in a DVD, CD, or SD flash card:



And not sure why we would use this (perhaps while riding a ferry to Victoria BC?), but here is what the DVD video looks like:



Plusses about the unit:
1. Touchscreen - very, very nice and easy to use
2. Full integration - steering wheel controls and speakers work great. Watching the movie while testing it caused me to lose track of time.
3. iPod and Phone integration is best I've seen.
4. Fit and finish are as good as factory (thanks to the installer, more on that later).
5. Ease of use - I only had to consult the owners manual to figure out how to turn up the NAV volume. Everything else was estremely intuitive.

Minuses about the unit:
1. Unfortunately there is no way to integrate the phone controls on the steering wheel unless you hire a digital signal engineer.
2. The mount kit for the SLK is not correct. Luckily the professional installer I worked with basically re-manufactured/machined the mount so that it fit seemlessly.

I can't give enough kudos to the installer. He quoted me $45.00 for the install, and stood by it even when he figured out that he had to modify the mount kit. The job is as professional as it gets. We will be going back to him to have the Smart Top unit installed in a couple of weeks.

Sorry about the lengthy post, but I know other folks are interested in aftermarket NAV units and I wanted to document this alternative.
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Old 05-08-2008, 04:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Date registered: Jul 2005
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Talking

Very, very impressive. Puts the OEM NAV unit to shame. Thanks for taking the time to post the pictures/text. Kenwood should be pleased. I'm sure you just "sold" a number of NAV units for them with this post. Still can't believe the install was only $45.00. MB would probably charge that much just to open the box. LOL. Thanks again for sharing.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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This nav is actually a Garmin GVN private labeled, very nice. Does the steering wheel buttons work?
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Old 05-09-2008, 02:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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EXCELLENT! I'll take appearance, comfort, entertainment mods over performance mods any day. I'm impressed, the mounting bezel is perfect. I love those integrated systems. Losing steering wheel controls is a minor inconvenience due to gains. Forty five dollar install, deal of the century. Reminds me of the guy at the local flea market that installs watch batteries for one dollar. I asked him why so low, and he whispered, I buy the batteries for thirty five cents each. I stated, your time is worth more. Why not two dollars? Thanks for the update. Just one question, other than the mount, did your installer encounter any problems unique to MB or the SLK?
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The steering wheel controls are semi-integrated. The volume up and down buttons work for everything. The phone buttons on the steering wheel would not work for the phone, but they were easily reprogrammed to change the radio stations up and down and the iPod songs to next and previous.

The installer charging just $45.00 for labor comes with a clause: I pretty much paid MSRP for the head unit and the adapters (less 10%). You can get better deals elsewhere, and I know he made a ton of profit off me. But if I wanted the cheapest, I wouldn't have bought the Mercedes to begin with. I'm not going to seek out the cheapest aftermarket dealer and expect them to do quality work in a $50K car. The guy I went to has customers that win car shows for their aftermarket sound systems.

Other than the mount system there were no other issues unique to the SLK. However, it is worth noting that the MB Satellite Radio system does not integrate with any aftermarket sound systems. MB has their own proprietary harness for the satellite radio, and Kenwood has their own proprietary plug for satellite radio. No big deal to me as I don't want to pay for radio. But folks that do want Satellite will need to fork out an extra $110.00 or so for the satellite receiver that jacks into the DNX8120.

Last edited by Dorian_Blue; 05-09-2008 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 05-09-2008, 02:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Great mod!!!!

Can you tell us some detailes about which cables were used? How did the guy modify the steering wheel controls? I remember an SLK owner from Greece who put an aftermarket navigation unit to his car and write up a detailed thread about his mod. So please give us more details...
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Old 05-09-2008, 06:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Several follow-up questions. The bezel, is it plastic or vinyl covered? I assume it fits the Kenwood double din radio and is then modified to fit the vehicle opening. Would you disclose the total cost for all parts and install, radio, harness, etc?
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Old 05-10-2008, 12:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diclehana View Post
Great mod!!!!

Can you tell us some detailes about which cables were used? How did the guy modify the steering wheel controls? I remember an SLK owner from Greece who put an aftermarket navigation unit to his car and write up a detailed thread about his mod. So please give us more details...
Since the install was handled by a professional I can't say for sure. He showed my everything he installed but I didn't write down part numbers or anything like that. He used an adapter from "Best Kit" to connect the main unit to the Mercedes Radio Harness, used a Periperpheral Electronics connector for the steering wheel adapter, and the iPod and USB connector come from Kenwood. I wish I could have sat through the installation and documented it, but I didn't have the time (hence, the reason I didn't do it myself).

Quote:
Originally Posted by -1- View Post
Several follow-up questions. The bezel, is it plastic or vinyl covered? I assume it fits the Kenwood double din radio and is then modified to fit the vehicle opening. Would you disclose the total cost for all parts and install, radio, harness, etc?
Its hard to tell whether the bezel is plastic or vinyl covered without scratching it. But I'm about 75% sure it is textured plastic with a soft finish to make it feel and look like vinyl or leather. Note that it has a leather textured finish similar to the top of the dash, not smooth plastic like the factory bezel with the radio from MB.

The bezel kit fits the Kenwood double din unit and is not supposed to require any mod for the SLK (it was supposedly made to fit MB). But the mount points on the bottom of the bezel had the bars with the holes for the mount bolts about 1 inch closer to center than they should have been. That was the part that the installer rebuilt. Plus, he though the gap around the radio looked to wide for his taste so he bondo and painted it so that it looked seamless when installed with the radio. (never asked my opinion on it, just did it)

The price quoted to me before I took it in to be done was $2149.02, including the 8.5% sales tax. That's probably higher than most would charge, and more than most are willing to pay. Best Buy said they would do the job for a little over $1700. I won't go t a veterinarian if I ever need open heart surgery, and I won't go to Best Buy to do an install in our Mercedes.
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Old 05-10-2008, 12:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I am in the Bay Area too if you don't mind disclosing name of this installer.
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Old 05-10-2008, 12:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by CalifSLK View Post
I am in the Bay Area too if you don't mind disclosing name of this installer.
Famous Motor Grupe on El Camino in Sunnyvale. Across the street and a few feet north of the Pointiac dealership, 1205 W. El Camino Real. Talk with Vince, he's the owner (a very young guy, but most radical high end after market audio guys are). Do us both a favor and don't let him know the price I quoted, you can probably negotiate a better deal if inclined to do so. For me, it was worth every penny spent. He has two locations in Gilroy as well.

Last edited by Dorian_Blue; 05-10-2008 at 12:33 PM.
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