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I'm looking at buying my first BMW, which would be an E65 in the 2003-2006 range (based on the current listings I can find in my area of NV and northern CA) and one of the things it looks like I'm going to want to consider is replacing the display and iDrive hardware. The car I've looked at so far has a display that took a bit of time to warm up, and never seemed to get as bright as I think it needs to be.

In my research so far, I've seen options such as upgrading the older system to a newer revision, or even replacing the entire unit with an Android based 10.25" or 8.8" system. Can someone with experience maybe give me a heads up as to what options might be best considered?

One thing I'd like to consider is upgrading the iDrive controller to a newer option with the added buttons, and all the things I've seen so far tend to read as giant lists of acronyms I'm not quite up on deciphering yet. My partner and I are both IT professionals (real ones, not the "IT Pro" of notoriety) so we'll pick up on it pretty quickly once we find the entrance to that rabbit hole, but diving in like this is certainly intimidating.

TL;DR, should I look at retrofitting newer hardware into an older car, or should I just go Android? And if I do go Android, can I upgrade the iDrive controller and use those features without too much hassle?

If I do look at a retrofit, how can I find the right display and iDrive controller? Is that all I would need, along with a NAV03 unit?
 

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I'm looking at buying my first BMW, which would be an E65 in the 2003-2006 range (based on the current listings I can find in my area of NV and northern CA) and one of the things it looks like I'm going to want to consider is replacing the display and iDrive hardware. The car I've looked at so far has a display that took a bit of time to warm up, and never seemed to get as bright as I think it needs to be.

In my research so far, I've seen options such as upgrading the older system to a newer revision, or even replacing the entire unit with an Android based 10.25" or 8.8" system. Can someone with experience maybe give me a heads up as to what options might be best considered?

One thing I'd like to consider is upgrading the iDrive controller to a newer option with the added buttons, and all the things I've seen so far tend to read as giant lists of acronyms I'm not quite up on deciphering yet. My partner and I are both IT professionals (real ones, not the "IT Pro" of notoriety) so we'll pick up on it pretty quickly once we find the entrance to that rabbit hole, but diving in like this is certainly intimidating.

TL;DR, should I look at retrofitting newer hardware into an older car, or should I just go Android? And if I do go Android, can I upgrade the iDrive controller and use those features without too much hassle?

If I do look at a retrofit, how can I find the right display and iDrive controller? Is that all I would need, along with a NAV03 unit?
I have the avin android display. Fully integrated with native button controls (phone, cd, nav, etc.). It's a touchscreen android so i use it for waze and Google maps. If ur going that route, i strongly suggest having it installed by an avin affiliate versus doing it yrself. Search the forum for many fellas not hearing anything our of the unit after they did it themselves.
Not promoting, not sponsored. Just feedback, an opinion.
https://avinusa.com/gps-multimedia-systems/bmw/7-series.html
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I have the avin android display. Fully integrated with native button controls (phone, cd, nav, etc.). It's a touchscreen android so i use it for waze and Google maps. If ur going that route, i strongly suggest having it installed by an avin affiliate versus doing it yrself. Search the forum for many fellas not hearing anything our of the unit after they did it themselves.
Not promoting, not sponsored. Just feedback, an opinion.
https://avinusa.com/gps-multimedia-systems/bmw/7-series.html
Thanks for the reply, I've been looking at that model here and have been wondering how well it integrates. It's really surprised me how little information there really is about them, and I'd love to see a proper video review that explains the features and options depending on your car model.

One thing I'd really love to know is whether or not you can load Android Auto onto it? I'm a huge fan of it in my 2017 Hyundai, and actually bought that car based on the fact it had the option to just use my phone's Android Auto software instead of the soon-obsolete onboard navigation. I can imagine that Android Auto would be a perfect application for these systems and a major selling point, and I can't see why it *wouldn't* work... but nobody's said it does. Any thoughts?

EDIT: I know that you can use Mirrorlink as an option with a lot of these systems, but I'm really curious about just putting Android Auto directly on the headunit.
 

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Thanks for the reply, I've been looking at that model here and have been wondering how well it integrates. It's really surprised me how little information there really is about them, and I'd love to see a proper video review that explains the features and options depending on your car model.

One thing I'd really love to know is whether or not you can load Android Auto onto it? I'm a huge fan of it in my 2017 Hyundai, and actually bought that car based on the fact it had the option to just use my phone's Android Auto software instead of the soon-obsolete onboard navigation. I can imagine that Android Auto would be a perfect application for these systems and a major selling point, and I can't see why it *wouldn't* work... but nobody's said it does. Any thoughts?

EDIT: I know that you can use Mirrorlink as an option with a lot of these systems, but I'm really curious about just putting Android Auto directly on the headunit.
Haven't tried android auto. Did mirror link and it couldn't use the full surface of the screen so as to preserve the phone screen ratio when mirrored. Call avin or a retailer to confirm.
I play music via the Bluetooth or car(armrest) usb but u can load it on the unit's memory/usb slot and use an MP3 player app. Can play video too.
Check out YouTube for yr 7 series. Mine works as advertised on my x5. But get the newest one (2 gb ram and faster cpu). My waze and Google maps are slow to load on the previous version, thinking its resource related. Whats on their website should be the latest model.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Haven't tried android auto. Did mirror link and it couldn't use the full surface of the screen so as to preserve the phone screen ratio when mirrored. Call avin or a retailer to confirm.
I play music via the Bluetooth or car(armrest) usb but u can load it on the unit's memory/usb slot and use an MP3 player app. Can play video too.
Check out YouTube for yr 7 series. Mine works as advertised on my x5. But get the newest one (2 gb ram and faster cpu). My waze and Google maps are slow to load on the previous version, thinking its resource related. Whats on their website should be the latest model.
Unfortunately most of the YouTube videos I've seen have just been terrible. :/ Shakycam, unexplained clicking through things, I've watched a half dozen or more videos so far and they're all either so basic they explain nothing or so shaky they give me a headache.

If there's any way you, or someone else, could load an Android Auto APK onto the unit and try it that would really help me figure out what I can do.

That said, I would strongly recommend Android Auto to anyone, regardless. It has a really good UI.
 

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So i see that my first gen unit is android 4.4.4 and new ones are 8.1. the android auto apk needs 5+. So i cant run it
 
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