I have an identical setup as Dan has described. It works, but I'm not happy with it for these reasons.
* Hoist speed is still to fast even using the pulley included. Roughly 16 feet in one minute = 8 feet in 30 seconds = 4 feet in 15 seconds = 2 feet in 7.5 seconds = 1 foot in 3.7 seconds = 6 inches in 1.8 seconds = 3 inches in about 1 second. Especially when putting the top back on, dropping 3 inches per second is really scarry, so a lot of quick tapping of the buttons and the top starts bouncing around alot...a 2 person job just to make sure the top pins/blades don't hit any painted surfaces. I wish I could find a setup that was geared MUCH lower and ran MUCH slower.
* I still use those straps as shown, but find the hooking plates to be unsafe, they seem to want to pop off way to easily. I now also use normal ratchet straps in both directions, laying the ratchet straps right over top of the hook straps and "Lightly tighten the ratchets, preventing the hooks from popping off. I lay a small blanket on the top surface of the hardtop to make sure nothing gets scratched.
* Balance with straps, you can adjust the straps individually in an attempt to balance and keep the hard top level, but it isn't perfect. The side straps hooking locations are limited by the side window locations, putting them forward of the center of gravity. This makes the back of the top heavy and wanting to hang lower than the front. Iive seen custom built frames that will keep the top level, I will be building something along those lines in the future, the straps are just to crude for me and I cringe looking a my Pano hanging by these straps.
Since you haven't purchased anything yet, you have an opportunity to find a lift that runs slower and to get a better strap design. What I have works, but I wouldn't buy it again.
I won't dispute all of what you're saying, but I would point out that you have a panoramic top, which is much heavier than the standard top. I could see where the additional weight could be a factor with this hoist, even running at a reduced rate using the pulley.
I place tennis balls on the rear latches for protection during storage as well as to prevent damage when installing the top. I purposely let one corner be lower then the others so I can get it placed in the rear latch, then lower the top while guiding it to get the remaining latch in the hole without damage to the car. This technique works just fine for me and prevents damage to the tonneau cover and surrounding painted surfaces.
The Ecklers top strap takes some fiddling with to get right. I still don't have mine perfectly adjusted, but it's close. As for the hooking plates, I have never had a problem with them, nor do I think they're unsafe. If they are properly hooked on the edges of the top, once the weight of the top is on them they are plenty substantial. I have installed and removed my top numerous times and never felt there was any danger of the straps coming loose.
That being said you must make sure they are properly hooked on the top edges before lifting.
I researched this in great detail before I went forward, and the cost benefit versus functionality showed that this was the best approach for me. A manual hoist takes up more space in the garage and presents a hazard with cables and winches being on walls, not to mention relying on physical strength to raise/lower the top. "Official" MB hoists are prohibitively expensive.
While the HF/Ecklers approach may not be ideal, it has worked well for me at a price point that is realistic.
Again, Aero 1 makes some valid points, but they have a top that is significantly heavier than the stock top as well as being for more expensive, too.