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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everyone!

For years my wife has been complaining about the lack of audio features in her 2010 GLK350. She has the AUDIO20 stereo...truly the lowest form of Mercedes stereo. No Bluetooth audio streaming, no AUX jack, no navigation, no SiriusXM, no backup camera, no nothing! I have looked and looked and could never find anything that wasn't either crazy expensive (installing a true COMMAND unit) or cheap looking (installing a standard DIN unit). I finally bit the bullet and ordered one of the Seicane Android head units for her 50th birthday.

As I am sure you have found if trying to search yourself, there a very few units that will work in the GLK and still look good, due to the "split" nature of the beast (head unit and screen are separate and detached). I went with Seicane, not based on any real data, but simply looking at all the various manufactures website pictures. There are now quite a few odd Asian companies making Android head units, and from what I can tell they all use variations of the same Android Auto operating system. They have simply taken Android freeware and branded it as their own. I couldn't find any decent GLK reviews on the Seicane but I really liked the look so I took a leap of faith, ordered it blind and crossed my fingers!

Seicane makes three models for the GLK350. All are the same, except for the screen size.

A 7 inch screen that fits in the same spot as the original 5" screen.


A 9 inch screen that kind of hangs out in front like the newer Mercedes models.


A 10 1/4" screen that is even larger.


I went with the 9" unit. I almost bought the big 10.25" screen and I am glad I didn't. The 9" screen looks huge as is!

For those who don't like to read, I'll skip to the final chapter and say that it looks great, works well, and my wife is ecstatic!

BEFORE


AFTER!


The installation took some sweat and cursing and the usage isnt perfect, but overall she (and I) are very pleased.

Stay tuned for Part 2 - Ordering!
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Part 2 - Ordering

There are several hoops you must jump through in order to place your order. The website form asks several questions, but you aren't given a clear explanation WHY they are asking, or what they really want to know. They want to know the model year of course, but also the plug on the back of the existing head unit and screen. Is it square or round? I assume this tells them if your existing unit is a NTG4.0 or NTG4.5. I was pretty sure mine was a 4.0, but to be sure I pulled the screen to check. Yup...square. They also ask, with no explanation whatsoever, "Original Car With AUX"...YES/NO. Well, in my case the answer is "kind of". This GLK had one of the old iPod Kits, so it DID have an old-style Apple connector in the glove box, but not a true AUX audio input jack. However on the head unit, you choose AUX on the screen to use this antique connector! So what are they asking exactly? Do you have an AUX audio jack? Or do you have AUX controls in the head unit? I scoured the website trying to figure this out and the only answer I could find was the vague "we need to know in order to send the correct cables". Cables for what exactly?! Ugh. They also insist and require you to send a picture of your existing stereo. Why? No idea. They cant see the AUX jack or screen connector, so what are they looking for?! Since I don't have a true AUX jack, I figured the safer option was to choose NO-AUX, figuring they would include some extra device or cable that at worst I wouldn't use.

There was about a 3 day delay after ordering while they reviewed my dash photo. Again, no questions or explanations, just "your order is being processed".

Seicane offered two shipping options: Express (3-5 Day) for $60, and Standard (2-12 Day) for $99. I know, I know. :D As I went through this process, I found a lot of things like this that just didn't make sense!

The unit was listed on their website for $537.99, allegedly on-sale. I am fairly certain these units are always on-sale to create a sense of urgency, just like the furniture store in town that has been having a "Going out of business sale!" for the past ten years. :D Seicane has an affiliate program that allows people with way too much time to spread the news with a unique discount coupon code, getting a small kickback. I searched and found dozens of these codes. After trying them all, I found they all give you 3.5% off with the exception of ONE. Code SC5LY will give you 5% off, knocking the price down to $511.09. Hey...you take what you can! So, my "out the door" price with shipping included was $573.81. I suppose if you too have too much time, you could create your own affiliate links and then use them yourself, thus double dipping. I passed.

There are MANY optional add-on's you can choose during the ordering process. Backup cameras, Apple Car Play dongle, Front facing camera, etc. Since I was already gambling with a good amount of money, I decided to skip all the options, figuring I could always go back and order them later. There are also a few options that sound VERY cool, but were questionable as to whether or not they would work in the USA, like the "4G LTE External Module" for mobile internet access. There were a lot of complaints on all the manufactures websites about these dongles not working in the USA. Whether its due to the carrier, the head unit, or operator error is unknown.

After about a week, I came home to a note on my door from DHL indicating I had a package from China that I wasn't there to sign for. Huh? I received NO tracking, NO shipping email, nothing from Seicane indicating the unit was in transit. Even after I signed for and received the box the next day, the website still said "Order Processing"! I did finally get a notice indicating my order had shipped, with a tracking number...three days after receiving it. :D

Stay tuned for Part 3 - The Box Arrives!
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Part 3 - The Box Arrives!

Well, here it is. Exciting, no? :D Is it just me, or does everything from China come in the same color, paper-thin cardboard box? Even the yellow tape is the same! Maybe they only have one shipping supply store in the country. :D



The international waybill was a nice surprise! Even though it cost me in excess of $500, the declared customs value was listed as $116.50. DHL didn't ask for any money, so I assume if there are customs duties I'll get a bill from...someone? I would bet money that $116.50 is their cost, and the rest is markup.



What's inside? Another box!



The inner box was about as generic as you can get, lending credence to my theory that all these Asian android car stereo websites are selling the same thing. Nowhere did it say "SEICANE" or even have a model number or picture. Just "Car Audio", what I think is the head of a snake, and a bunch of feature logos. They all make sense except for the last one that looks like a snake coming out of your car and onto your phone. I hope that isn't a feature. :)




Stay tuned for PART 4 - What's inside?
 

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Outstanding Contributor
'85 300D Turbo, '91 420SEL, '92 190E 2.6, '09 C350, '12 E63 Wagon
Joined
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3,161 Posts
Wow. Very nice!

Looking forward to your next post!!!

Thank you.
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
·
1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Hi guys, so sorry for abandoning this thread halfway though. Life, etc!

So far the unit has performed very well. It does have it's quirks:
  • Every once in awhile the volume resets to "50", which is midway on the on-screen volume slider. This on-screen volume is basically the input volume to the cars original amp, kinda like a pre-amp. My wife has gotten used to it, and when she has the cars volume knob cranked and it still isn't loud, she knows to go to the main screen and re-adjust the volume to 100.
  • The Command Knob on the center console is FUBAR. Something in their CAN bus implementation doesn't allow it to work correctly. It WILL work, barely, but you have to click it a few dozen times to get it to move once on screen. This can really be a PIA during setup when you want to enable the AUX input for example. Once the unit is operating you use the touch screen anyway so this isn't a huge deal, although I do wish it worked correctly. The steering wheel buttons DO work as intended.
  • Bluetooth audio streaming works well, BUT you have to click and start the specific, extremely ill-named app before it will work. Like many Chinese products the English translations don't always make sense. I had to start every app just to try and figure out what they did.
  • Apple Carplay works wonderfully! WAZE, Sirius/XM streaming and more make it all worthwhile. Although sometimes, cant figure out why, it wont recognize her phone when plugged into the Carplay dongle. So you have to kill the Carplay app and re-launch. A pain, but not life altering.
  • The default main screen is pretty, but essentially worthless as you need to go to the apps to really do anything. That is unless you want to play the radio (so old school!) or play the two, very strange Chinese demo songs. :p There doesn't seem to be a way to change it without diving in to the android system, something I know nothing about, and really have no interest in figuring out. (I'm an apple guy). If you have a lot of music on an SD card or USB drive, it would probably be OK.
The installation was easy, all the cables are plug-and-play. Other than finding a switched 12v source and a ground (easy as there are tons behind the dash), there was no stripping, soldering, etc. But again, there was some weirdness. For example the original Command screen must stay attached to the system in order for it all to work! I had to remove it from it's bezel, and tuck it inside the upper dash behind the new screen. You dont see it, but it's still pretty weird. I also have a Mid City Engineering Smart Key Starter, remote start unit installed with a companion Directed Smart Start module for cloud/app access, so there was a LOT of wiring and modules behind, above and below the head unit. It really took a lot of finessing to get everything tucked and slid back in, but eventually I got it all to fit. And when I took it into the Mercedes dealer for the Takata airbag recall, they freaked out refusing to touch it! Since they have to remove the dash, I either had to remove all the after market gear or pay an additional $250 fee for a car audio tech to come remove and re-install it all. I see their point, but geez...it wasn't rocket science. I pulled it all out and put it all back in after they were done. Good times.

All in all, it was WELL worth the money. Even with its quirkiness it is light years ahead of the stock system, that's for sure!
 

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Outstanding Contributor
'85 300D Turbo, '91 420SEL, '92 190E 2.6, '09 C350, '12 E63 Wagon
Joined
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3,161 Posts
That was a great detailed update! Thank you!!!!

Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
PART 4a - Whats inside?

OK, better late than never! Here is what it all the pieces-parts look like.

All nicely packaged, as expected.
2609375


Here is the new screen. It has some heft to it, it doesn't feel cheap at all.
2609376


The screen from the rear. The harness plugs into both ports. The old screen must remained attached to it's original cable, tucked inside the dash out of site. That plastic piece is a cover for the mounting slots.
2609377


The new Bezel. It fit perfectly into the space where the previous screen sat.
2609378


This is the main harness. It's a "T" harness, as it connects inline. The two large black connectors are male & female versions of the factory plug, so it's plug and play.
2609379


Everything is well labeled.
2609380


It came with two RCA breakout cables for use with aftermarket audio amplifiers or AUX video from a DVD player, etc. If you are using the factory amp and speakers they are not used. The green cable is for a 3rd party backup camera if your car doesn't already have one.
2609381


The USB umbilical. There are three USB jacks. They all provide charging power. I'm not sure if there is a specific use for each one, as they are not labeled. I did find by trial and error that the Apple Carplay dongle would only function in one of them though.
2609385


This is the cable from the new units control box to the touch screen.
2609386


An external speaker. For what? I have no idea! I hooked it up, but I haven't heard it do anything. I suspect it is for can be used for hands free calling if your car doesn't already have that functionality.
2609388


Only 10 pics per post. Stay tuned for Part 4b!
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
PART 4b - More of whats inside!

The GPS antenna for navigation apps.
2609390


The WiFi antenna for network connectivity.
2609393


External microphone for hand free phone calls.
2609394


The "Brain". This is the interface box that brings it all together! Very well labeled. All of the cables and jacks are keyed and different sizes so there is no way to plug one into the wrong port, or upside down.
2609395


There are some DIP switches to tailor the unit to your configuration. I love the warning at the bottom. I want my touching to work! :D
2609397


Next to the reset button, there are two Micro-SD slots for GPS maps or audio/video. Keep in mind this unit will be inside your dash, so you can't easily change SD cards.
2609398


I am not sure what the acronyms stand for, but from what I could figure out "TO-TFT" is the touch screen control and "LVDS" is the video display. Both of these port connect to the screen.
2609399


The WiFi and GP antennas are color coded and connect next to the sea of jacks for the various cables.
2609401


This is where the majority of the cables connect. If all the pins were present it would be 66 pins, plus the AUX RCA's from above, hence the name. The CAN connector is to connect to the cars CAN buss for steering wheel control, Comand knob, reverse triggering, etc.
2609402


The cable from the original screen plugs in to CAR-LVDS. I couldn't get it to work without being plugged in, so it got tucked inside the dash behind the new screen.
2609403


Stay tuned for Part 4c!
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Part 4c - EVEN MORE of whats inside!

These are the DIP switches explained earlier.
2609404


There is also a label on the bottom explaining where all the connectors go if you cant figure it out.
2609405


And finally, please remember that the tearing of this label is invalid. :ROFLMAO:
2609406


And that is everything in the box!

There were no instructions, but installation was pretty self explanatory. Just hook all the wires up one-by-one.
 

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Registered
2001 Mercedes SLK230 and 2011 Mercedes GLK350 4Matic
Joined
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11 Posts
Thank you for this very detailed thread.
It really is a big purchase and a gamble that I can't buy one from a local car audio shop that I trust.
Can I ask for the link of where you purchased from?

I found a Seicane model on Amazon Marketplace.
I found this legit-sounding shop in Canada whose purchase questions sound better than the ones you got.
And of course, I found a bazillion models on AliExpress, which is how I fell down this rabbit hole.
(I tried to post links but I guess I'm a new user so they flagged it as spam)

I'm also interested to know the internal storage size (for apps) of the one you got. Do you happen to know?
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I bought mine from the source: The Seicane.com website. I was also a bit concerned, as I was sending a good chunk of money to some mystery company in China. But I must say that they did everything they said they would, and everything arrived in a timely manner.

The unit I bought has 32GB of iNAND, embedded storage. It also has micro-SD slots for memory cards as well as three USB ports.
 

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Registered
2001 Mercedes SLK230 and 2011 Mercedes GLK350 4Matic
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11 Posts
Another question, if I may? I just checked out Seicane's website. One thing other displays offer is that you can select the original headunit to display on the new screen so the dealer can still access the original radio features (like the Engineering Menu). Does the one you got offer that? Or do you think it even matters?
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Yes. You hold down the "back" button next to the Comand knob for three seconds, and the display switches to the OEM screen. Hold it down again and it switches back.
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
FYI: It's only 8%, but hey. You take what you can get!

2612189
 

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Registered
2001 Mercedes SLK230 and 2011 Mercedes GLK350 4Matic
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11 Posts
I wanted to add to this that I got a Google alert today that one of the Seicane models is on sale.

The site lists it as 69% off at $270.34. I don't know if 69% is valid but $270.34 makes it a lot more palatable, even though it's not the model I personally wanted.

 

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Registered
2011 GLK 350 4MATIC
Joined
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8 Posts
Great share!
How long have you had the smart key starter installed on your glk from Mid city engineering? Ive had mine installed there about 4 years ago and still going strong along with the DroneMobile unit.

Hi guys, so sorry for abandoning this thread halfway though. Life, etc!

So far the unit has performed very well. It does have it's quirks:
  • Every once in awhile the volume resets to "50", which is midway on the on-screen volume slider. This on-screen volume is basically the input volume to the cars original amp, kinda like a pre-amp. My wife has gotten used to it, and when she has the cars volume knob cranked and it still isn't loud, she knows to go to the main screen and re-adjust the volume to 100.
  • The Command Knob on the center console is FUBAR. Something in their CAN bus implementation doesn't allow it to work correctly. It WILL work, barely, but you have to click it a few dozen times to get it to move once on screen. This can really be a PIA during setup when you want to enable the AUX input for example. Once the unit is operating you use the touch screen anyway so this isn't a huge deal, although I do wish it worked correctly. The steering wheel buttons DO work as intended.
  • Bluetooth audio streaming works well, BUT you have to click and start the specific, extremely ill-named app before it will work. Like many Chinese products the English translations don't always make sense. I had to start every app just to try and figure out what they did.
  • Apple Carplay works wonderfully! WAZE, Sirius/XM streaming and more make it all worthwhile. Although sometimes, cant figure out why, it wont recognize her phone when plugged into the Carplay dongle. So you have to kill the Carplay app and re-launch. A pain, but not life altering.
  • The default main screen is pretty, but essentially worthless as you need to go to the apps to really do anything. That is unless you want to play the radio (so old school!) or play the two, very strange Chinese demo songs. :p There doesn't seem to be a way to change it without diving in to the android system, something I know nothing about, and really have no interest in figuring out. (I'm an apple guy). If you have a lot of music on an SD card or USB drive, it would probably be OK.
The installation was easy, all the cables are plug-and-play. Other than finding a switched 12v source and a ground (easy as there are tons behind the dash), there was no stripping, soldering, etc. But again, there was some weirdness. For example the original Command screen must stay attached to the system in order for it all to work! I had to remove it from it's bezel, and tuck it inside the upper dash behind the new screen. You dont see it, but it's still pretty weird. I also have a Mid City Engineering Smart Key Starter, remote start unit installed with a companion Directed Smart Start module for cloud/app access, so there was a LOT of wiring and modules behind, above and below the head unit. It really took a lot of finessing to get everything tucked and slid back in, but eventually I got it all to fit. And when I took it into the Mercedes dealer for the Takata airbag recall, they freaked out refusing to touch it! Since they have to remove the dash, I either had to remove all the after market gear or pay an additional $250 fee for a car audio tech to come remove and re-install it all. I see their point, but geez...it wasn't rocket science. I pulled it all out and put it all back in after they were done. Good times.

All in all, it was WELL worth the money. Even with its quirkiness it is light years ahead of the stock system, that's for sure!
 

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Registered
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3 Posts
Great share!
How long have you had the smart key starter installed on your glk from Mid city engineering? Ive had mine installed there about 4 years ago and still going strong along with the DroneMobile unit.
I installed my Mid City Engineering Smart Starter a month ago, and it is amazing. So easy. No extra FOBs to carry. The app is awesome with DRONE. Best investment I've made in a while.
 

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Registered
2011 GLK 350 4MATIC
Joined
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8 Posts
I installed my Mid City Engineering Smart Starter a month ago, and it is amazing. So easy. No extra FOBs to carry. The app is awesome with DRONE. Best investment I've made in a while.
Yes it’s great stuff! Very innovative team up there in Chicago . I drove my glk from Detroit and had them install the plug and play unit on my vehicle along with an OEM Mercedes Star light emblem.
 

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W163 Crash Test Driver
2008 ML350 (Me!), 2010 GLK350 (Wife), 2003 ML-350 (Deceased)
Joined
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1,479 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I have installed the Mid City Smartkey starter in three vehicles now. It's a 2 difficulty on a scale of 1-10. The last time I did it, it took 10 minutes! My wife's cars has their newer "Next Generation" version (NG in the part number) which is very slick. Even turns on the seat warmers for her in winter. Mine is the older unit without that feature. :(

The best thing about Mid City is if you call them you can talk with the guy who invented it, Dan Ruby. He is a nice and very helpful guy! He told me some helpful tips for those looking a great deal. There are actually only three models of the original Smart Key Starter units depending on the speed/type of CAN buss in the vehicle. They are referred as SKS-FT "Fault Tolerant", SKS-HS "High Speed" and SKS-CHS "Custom High Speed" which is rarely used. The only reason for the dozens of part numbers on their website is for the different wiring harnesses, which you can buy separately. So, if you see a used unit on ebay for some random Mercedes model and the price is right, it will work in your car if the CAN buss type is the same (FT, HS, CHS). You just need to order a different wiring harness for $99.

The NG models are even easier as they have made them universal with all the necessary ports (Drone, Directed/Viper Smart Star, D2D, Keyboxes, Antennas, etc). Even firmware upgradeable!
 
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