HTC Android meets Mercedes S-Class
hey guys just wanted to show my android in dash install in my 2000 S500 that I'm just about finishing up.I always loved this car and I've wanted one for the longest time, but now that I finally do have a decent one I really want to trade up to a newer, younger and nicer, low mileage really sweet one eventually, maybe an 05-06 S55 or S600, or who knows, maybe even a newer S550, so with these thoughts in mind I really didn't want to have to rip the whole original command system out of this 2000 I have for now, I didn't want to have to do a whole system replacement of the fiber optic buss, complicated mess, if the car is just going to be replaced eventually anyway, but at the same time I surely could not live with the original antique command system from 2000. no way, and I really didn't want to have to resort to the tacky way of docking my android phone on the dash. I mean sure, at first I had no choice and winded up doing the phone on the dash deal that so many wind up being stuck with, I really wanted a better, easier to use and more integrated system than that.it sucks when the nav on your phone is way better than the nav in the dash. I needed a solution
I knew I wanted to keep everything 100% easily reversible to stock when the time comes to sell it, because most times, especially on a car like this, a car with a stock unmolested dash is going to be worth more than even the nicest aftermarket setup & you'll never get the value back of a full custom system on top of the value of the car itself. I really didn't want to loose a few grand here by ripping everything out and installing an aftermarket head unit or the PC install I really had in mind for this, which would have been way too involved, so I had to come up with something custom, yet more on the simple side of things.
my goal here was to install a system that gives me all the latest bells & whistles, the latest navigation with live traffic integration, all my MP3's & movies, both on board & over 4G via slingbox, full internet access and internet radio. Pandora, Shoutcast & Slacker are awesome, so much better than FM. but at the same time I still wanted to keep all of the factory stuff functional, stuff like the whole original fiber optic bose audio system, the steering wheel controls, even keep the factory FM & CD changer to stay fully functional too.
I also really wanted this to look perfect and to look factory. no tablet jutting out of the dash like a bigger version of the giant tacked on phone mount... I def wanted it to look like it could have came that way. I wanted the styling and even the illumination to match the rest of the dash well enough that it just looks like it belongs there. this car is just too nice to want any less, but again it had to be easily reversible too.
what I eventually came up with here I think winded up being a truly perfect solution for all my goals. yes it's not a full blown PC like I'm more used to. heavier custom fabrication don't scare me in the least & I even happen to even have a fujistsu 8.9" widescreen, convertable tablet/laptop thing that has a sunlight viewable touch screen even, would have been a perfect fit & was tempting to me for a bit, but here I wanted to avoid that for the other reasons.
I removed the factory bezel & saved it, then recessed the radio into the dash a bit with custom brackets, and then built a new custom bezel to fit directly over the original radio with enough room to dock the HTC evo view tablet completely flush into the bezel. when it's docked it pretty much looks fully integrated & installed and you have no clue the original radio is right behind it. most that see it think it is a head unit at first... but then notice the mercedes logo on the display, then the android elements... then the custom buttons
I was able to piece this together in a way that my new bezel has buttons that press the original head units buttons behind them. the first 3 of my custom buttons press the original buttons for: radio, cd changer and tape deck buttons. to match best and follow mercedes styling I decided to use symbols for button labels as mercedes does throughout the dash. the radio button is now an antenna icon, the cd changer is a cd icon, and the tape deck which is now hidden & used as just the auxiliary input in this configuration, so the tape deck button is labeled with an android icon, it select's the tablet as source.
the next 2 buttons are just add on buttons that I had to add to keep everything symmetrical & balanced looking, it looked off with just the 3 buttons off center, these 2 extra buttons are to turn my TPMS display on and off and to turn my bluetooth on and off.
even when the tablet is docked & being used for navigation blocking the original screen, I can select FM or the CD changer & control these right through the instrument panel display with the steering wheel buttons, so fm & the cd changer are both very usable even with the factory screen blocked.
the bezel is done in a way that leaves the factory radio accessible & somewhat presentable even when the tablet is removed, the tablet easily docks & ejects, so if I ever have to use the car without the tablet it is still usable.
to return this whole thing to 100% stock takes less than 15 minutes. the total cost, aside from the tablet itself, was less than $200. I used a $50 junk yard bezel & about $40 worth of jb weld to build the bezel/dock. the rest is for the HTC HDMI adapter & HTC car power supply, the cassette adapter & misc materials to finish this. the whole thing, even including the tablet itself,cost less than just some of the add on ipod kits I've this for this car, so I'd say it was pretty cost effective too :)
anyway, long winded, I know, so some pictures of the build & then the final result
I didn't go into much detail of the construction itself here, so any questions or comments let me know. me doing this install on one of my own cars does NOT mean that I now think android is better than a full blown carpc. if I really felt this car was more of a long term keeper then I think I would have went with the full on fujitsu PC with windows 7 instead of this tablet, but, here I had to keep some limitations. and that is what I think an android install is. it is an easy alternative, with limitations, but in the end it is STILL a live dash, it still has & does much of what I would crave from a PC, and when faced with limitations it can be at least a satisfactory alternative and in some ways it's even refreshing as an alternative, just in it's relative simplicity compared to a PC.