Date registered: Jul 2006
Vehicle: Current: '07 SL550, '06 ML350 - Past: '99 ML320 (Sold), '98 SLK230 (Wrecked), 05 SL500 (Wrecked)
Location: San Francisco, CA
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
I know what you mean about the empty areas around the display, and if you really wanted to, you could get one of the larger versions that Xtrons sells, that's all screen, no buttons, but it's 8", so it covers quite a bit of the area.
I have one of those units (Xtrons), and to me the Android software (mine had 8.0 Oreo) is pretty blah. The other issue I had was the Navigation. While it does have a GPS unit, it relies on 3rd party software which you need to download. Some of the nav apps (iGo, NavTeq) have an option to download the maps locally for off-line use, but they either require payment, or you can only downloads bits and pieces, not the whole US. Some people like Waze, but I personally can't stand it. Plus what happens when there's no network connectivity?
The rest of the stuff is more or less what you would expect out of an Android tablet. The better units have Octa-Core CPUs so they're more responsive, but a lot of the sub $300 ones are still on Quad-Core or even Dual-Core processors, and they're really terrible.
So for me, having something that had proper navigation, a DVD player, support for CarPlay and Android Auto, Ipod, HD Radio and decent sound was the tipping point in favor of a Kenwood unit. I ended up buying 2 used ones on eBay, a 2016 DNX573S for my ML, which is already installed and works great, and a 2017/2018 DNX574S for my SL550, which is going in the car this weekend hopefully.
Yes, there's some empty space around it, but you get used to it. For my SL I actually went with the wood look to match the rest of the console. I could have done it on the ML as well, but the wife preferred the black.