Anyway I had decided that it was stupid to leave the iPod permanently in the car when I could have a more appropriate solution in the form of a USB flash drive with all of my songs on it. So I started searching around to see what was available. There are the DICE modules, but so many people complain about issues with them I decided to give it a miss. There are also a heap of other cheapo iPod/aux/USB interfaces available for European cars but again many of them had sketchy reviews.
FYI, mine is a September 2003 Z4 2.5i without DSP or CD changer. I have the grey coloured head unit which does not play MP3s. I was concerned that this would be a problem displaying text, however after discussion with Pawnsacrifice he confirmed that he has text working with the Gateway 300 on the same head unit as I have.
Then I stumbled across the Dension Gateway 300. Unlike the many other competing products I did not find anybody complaining about the Dension units. I found the cheapest place to buy one including shipping to Australia was iPod Car Kits Direct.com and picked one up (without the iPod cable).
The unit didn't take too long to arrive and pretty soon I had a GW33BM4 package in my hands.
Installation was a breeze, particularly since I was familiar with the head unit access procedure from installing my aux-in cable. The pack came with a simple plug and play adaptor which connects between the stereo harness and the stereo itself. I mounted the Gateway unit itself underneath the head unit (in the same spot BMW recommends placement of the OEM iPod interface). The USB extension lead into which you plug the flash drive I routed into the glovebox via the hole in the top of the glovebox where that strut looking piece is. Here's some photos of the glovebox after the install:
The installation is VERY tidy which makes me happy. Even better is the fact that I didn't even have to drill any holes!
After confirming that the Gateway was functioning I put everything back together. At this point I worked out basic navigation of the USB drive but I couldn't work out how to get text display. Although earlier versions of the Gateway 300 required you to load a special file which enabled text on BMWs, the newer units have this functionality built in. I had found descriptions of the button presses required for the text enable procedure online but still had no luck with them. So I emailed Dension technical support. I was extremely surprised to receive a reply within an hour during the weekend! They directed me to this page: http://www.dension.com/knowledge-base/i ... ware-versi which describes the same procedure as I'd read about elsewhere, but note the line which says:
It turns out that on the Z4 the stereo display is not the default! In order to get text to show you have to select track 4 rather than track 2 when in text enable mode.Some vehicles support more than one display/screen. The following instructions allow you to choose where Song information (text) is displayed:
The text mode works really well! I was afraid that it might be a little laggy, but while it isn't instantaneous, the lag between pressing a button and the new text is really not noticeable. It scrolls when the track name is too long also.
Raspberry Jam Delta-V - anyone else a Satriani fan?
All in all I'm VERY happy with this solution. So far it has worked flawlessly and with such a clean install one could be forgiven for thinking it was OEM. Highly recommended!