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      08-03-2010, 03:32 PM   #4
jsunma
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Drives: 2008 328iT 6MT RWD
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Massachusetts

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Assuming the dealer-installed iPod interface for an 07 is anything like the one that came as an option on my 08, it's nothing that I'd necessarily go spend a lot of money on. Reading on this forum and others, it seems like this is an expensive dealer add-on if you get them to do it as a retrofit. There are issues with the interface as far as the number of songs in playlists, the number of playlists, and even more important just general ergonomics issues (I find the way to step through songs, lists, etc. to be very kludgy). Even more ridiculous is the fact that it's somewhat questionable as to whether the BMW iPod interface is actually using a digital signal from your iPod! Again from reading forums, the jury is somewhat out on this (the interface connects to both the analog AUX and digital outputs from the iPod and DOES NOT work without use of the special BMW cable).

Something like the DICE unit referenced above would be preferable IMO. I've had great luck with similar units (there's really only one or two of these things that are sold under a variety of different brands/labels) in other vehicles. The best of them (and I think the DICE is in that category) basically just allow the digital signal from your iPod to be ported to the CD changer input on your headunit...and allow some steering-wheel button control over the iPod. Ideally (and this was the case on the Dennison ICE unit I had on my previous car), you can also still control the iPod from its own interface when you want...because when it comes right down to it, Apple did a fine job with the scroll-wheel or touch interface and BMW (or other auto manufs) have done nothing to improve upon that. Forcing the user to control the iPod via two buttons (on the wheel or on the radio) is just not satisfactory 90% of the time. Again, just my opinion.

The main problem you may face in using the non-BMW digital interface is that it can be difficult to figure out if the thing you're ordering is really going to work with your particular radio/headunit. For this, I'd recommend actually calling the customer service people for DICE, etc. and talking through your needs. I've found this necessary in the past (e.g., on a 2007 Toyota there turn out to be about 5 different headunits and several require a slightly different interface box...something that's not always entirely clear from the online ordering systems).