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Old 08-15-2014, 11:44 AM   #1
tim330i
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///AVIN Avant-2 Review - 1000 mile trip to Bimmerfest East

BMW E46 3 series ///AVIN Avant-2 Review

The E46 chassis is old, it has been almost ten yeas since the last E46 3 series was stamped, welded, and bolted together. Despite the age the E46 is still a formidable driving machine. When BMW went to develop the new 2 series, the E46 was the standard they were aiming for. The E46 M3 suspension and steering feel was a target for the F80 M3 and F82 M4. Yes, there are many neglected, forgotten and poorly modded examples, but there are as many showroom clean, perfectly modded models as well. Many of them on E46Fanatics.

In ten plus years car design has come a long way, but suspension is about the same and steering, don't even get me started on EPS (electronic power steering). What has changed is the electronics, modern cars are rolling computes with navigation, infotainment, and streaming music. The later E46 models came with first generation technology, if it was optioned up from the factory. Most have a basic "Business" radio, leaving you feel a bit in the stone age.

My 2003 E46 M3 was optioned up from the factory with navigation and bluetooth so I had some decent technology in the car, if it was still 2003. OEM automotive technology is always going to be semi-awful because of the long development times. From the time development work starts on the car to start of production can be as long as 5 years. After that the car is on sale for up to 7 years so a new car could have 10+ year old tech in it right off the showroom.

///AVIN Avant-2 Review

The stock navigation works, but address input was so painful I would seldom use it. The Bluetooth integration was finicky at best and flat out didn't work most of the time. 6 months of owning my E46 M3 I got so sick of the Bluetooth that I pulled the module so it would stop randomly connecting. 6 months after that the screen on my factory navigation went out. Clearly something had to be done, it is 2014 and I can't listen to Pandora in my car.

Enter the ///AVIN Avant-2, a factory fit and finish, plug and play replacement. What could be more perfect, a drop in replacement for the 10 year old stock crap. I, like any self respecting auto enthusiast hate the look of most after market head units. They look like some sort of space ship controls and never flow with the factory interior. Not the ///AVIN Avant-2, it is what the BMW would make now, if they were so fixated on iDrive. A 7" touch screen interface with radio, Bluetooth streaming, Wi-fi connectivity, and navigation. Did I mention it looks factory? The fit, finish and 'cool factor' are my favorite part of the head unit.

///AVIN Avant-2 Review

The install is plug and play with no wire splicing needed. If you have factory nav it drops right into the existing dash spot. If you have the standard radio you'll have to do a few more steps to convert to the factory nav setup, easy enough to do in an afternoon. The ///AVIN Avant-2 came with all the wiring I needed. I did have to run a cable and a antenna wire from the trunk radio connections to the head unit, again simple enough to do in an afternoon. There are some great DIYs so I'll skip over the install details other then to say it is easy and super clean.

Read more about the ///AVIN Avant-2

Powering up the head unit for the first time was like Christmas morning. I was so excited to explore all the features that the unit offers. With the ability to install apps to the head unit the functionality is almost limitless. I started with the basics; radio, bluetooth and navigation. The other features are cool in their own right but these are the three I most commonly use.

The radio is simple and intuitive and the sound quality seems slightly better then my factory unit. I can't tell you how much I love the touch screen for the pre-sets, no ugly physical buttons. The radio also show RDS data (artist and song name) when available. The slick wiring from ///AVIN means the steering wheel buttons work as well, so you can still control the volume and pre-sets from your left hand, I love it.

Bluetooth, it just works, I can't tell you how refreshing that is. I had a 2012 F30 3 series for awhile and the factory Bluetooth did not work this well. I have never liked the bluetooth phone audio, again it didn't even work in the brand new F30 3 series. I just use BT on the Avant-2 for audio streaming. The ability to fire up Pandora and listen to music on a long road trip makes me elated. I wish there was a way to have the system auto connect, but not for phone calls, that will probably come in a later software update.

///AVIN Avant-2 Review

For the navigation, and really the entire unit, I tested it out on my 1000 mile trip to Bimmerfest East 2014 sponsored by Turner Motorsport. As I mentioned before the factory nav was so difficult to enter I seldom used it. On the ///AVIN Avant-2 I just typed it in, like you would on a tablet or smart phone. The nav does need an internet connection, so I used my phone's hotspot. Having a USB cell modem for the unit would be the best and I plan on adding one soon. The navigation is Google maps that uses GPS data from the head unit so it works flawlessly. Just like a factory nav the turn directions cut into whatever other audio you're listening to so no concerns about missing a turn. Also if you lose internet connection the direction are cached on the unit, the maps might not update but it still knows where you are and the directions don't miss a beat. Having auto complete for typing addresses is awesome, again it was that Christmas morning feeling.

Over the 1000 miles I was presently surprised with how well the ///AVIN Avant-2 works. There are some little glitches here and there but ///AVIN is constantly sending software updates to fix any issues. It is basically like having a smart phone or tablet in your dash. After the trip, having turn by turn nav and streaming Pandora the whole way I was kicking myself for not having gotten this sooner.

Yes the E46 is old, but it doesn't have to be dated. The ///AVIN Avant-2 brings the outdated radio into the 21st century as a full featured infotainment unit. The value for price is outstanding, the fit and finish is factory and the feature set is more then you need. Don't spend any more time driving around with an old and out dated radio, do yourself the same favor I did and upgrade to an ///AVIN Avant-2.

Get your own ///AVIN Avant-2

Last edited by pix335i; 08-15-2014 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:46 AM   #2
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Nice post Tim, glad you like your unit. Nice to see you get caught up with the times!

Something for you to consider since you are a pandora enthusiast....just install the pandora app directly on the unit. No need to stream it from your phone. Particularly if you end up with a dedicated hotspot/sim for the avin unit so its always online as that bypasses the need to connect to your phones hotspot.
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Old 08-15-2014, 02:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffb325@NavigationSolutions View Post
Nice post Tim, glad you like your unit. Nice to see you get caught up with the times!

Something for you to consider since you are a pandora enthusiast....just install the pandora app directly on the unit. No need to stream it from your phone. Particularly if you end up with a dedicated hotspot/sim for the avin unit so its always online as that bypasses the need to connect to your phones hotspot.
what is the best permanent solution to getting full time internet for this unit?
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:25 PM   #4
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what is the best permanent solution to getting full time internet for this unit?
There is a USB sim card adapter but that requires a compatible sim from your carrier....and their cooperation....and that can be tricky at times.

Im partial to a portable wifi hotspot, all the carriers have them, in general they are often inexpensive to add to existing plans, and since its wifi its fairly universal so there are not compatibility issues. Hard wire the charger into the car and you have a rolling hotspot that the Avin will use as needed, not to mention any other devices you or you passengers might have.
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///AVIN INFO: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1015704
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Old 08-15-2014, 03:48 PM   #5
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Thanks for the write-up.

Could you please go into more detail about your mention of phone calls? It was in the context of auto connect so I'm not sure if you mean the unit simply does not handle phone calls.

Does it handle bluetooth phone calls (i.e. play the call's audio through the speakers)? Is there a build in, or remote, microphone? If so, were you able to test calls and if the party on the other end could hear you well?

(Update) - sorry, I should've checked AVIN's website first. Per the website's list of features:
- Built-in Microphone with optional external Mic Input
- Answer and make calls via Android Touchscreen (when paired to a BT phone)

The questions around call quality still stand if you wouldn't mind answering. And the lack of auto connect means you'll need to manually pair each time you leave and re-enter the proximity of the vehicle?
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:18 PM   #6
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That looks so sick Tim330i.
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:15 PM   #7
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fyi, if you're with tmobile, you can add a mobile internet plan to your account that gives you 200mb high speend free each month ( or 1gb for the rest of 2014 for qualifying voice plans)
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:18 PM   #8
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fyi, if you're with tmobile, you can add a mobile internet plan to your account that gives you 200mb high speend free each month ( or 1gb for the rest of 2014 for qualifying voice plans)
There you go....

I know on my particular "family plan" I was able to add a portable wifi hotspot for $10 and it shares our group data (AT&T).
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Old 08-15-2014, 07:57 PM   #9
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looks great! where was this solution a few years ago when i still had my e46! glad to see products still coming out for these. next on my list is an m235i xdrive. looking forward to the e46 sized car again.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:25 PM   #10
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Price is a little steep, but this product looks phenomenal. I may definitely be treating myself to one of these for Christmas. Any pros and cons as to why I should get this instead of the slightly cheaper new Dynavin systems?

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Old 08-16-2014, 02:22 AM   #11
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I love my factory Bluetooth. I never had any problems with it regarding initial connectivity. (Yes, it takes literally about 2 minutes for BT to connect, but once it does, it downloads the phonebook and is ready to go. Call quality is superb, except where cell towers are scarce, which would affect any cell phone or Bluetooth setup.

Touchscreens are the scourge of in-car technology. It's easier to use knobs or voice commands, and who wants to clean the screen of fingerprints every other day?

Your setup is definitely light years ahead of the '03 in terms of electronic technology.

EDIT: I had a Jetta with the BT microphone built into the headunit. I found this placement to be awful: You had to talk down to the "floor" of the car, and the mic picked the climate control's fan noise during the conversation. The person on the other end almost always said they couldn't hear me.

Last edited by Goody4; 08-16-2014 at 02:48 AM.
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Old 08-16-2014, 02:39 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by chubakakid View Post
Price is a little steep, but this product looks phenomenal. I may definitely be treating myself to one or these for Christmas. any pros and cons as to why I should get this instead of the slightly cheaper new Dynavin systems?
+1 on dynavin comment
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Old 08-16-2014, 09:01 AM   #13
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Price is a little steep, but this product looks phenomenal. I may definitely be treating myself to one or these for Christmas. any pros and cons as to why I should get this instead of the slightly cheaper new Dynavin systems?
Quote:
Originally Posted by glhx View Post
+1 on dynavin comment

The Dynavin and the Avin are a completely different animal for a completely different type of user.

The Dynavin is a "conventional" car stereo/GPS system and in the case of the N6 with a emphasis on sound quality. If you want a "set it and forget it" type of unit the dynavin is for you.

The Avin is an internet capable, app running, android device with an emphasis on flexibility and customizability. Although it works fine out of the box, setting up your apps to make it do what you want is really what its about. If you are a "techie" and like to tinker this unit is for you.

Read the FAQ on our website for more info about this and other questions regarding installs and BMWs: http://www.jandtdistributing.com/pages/faq-links



Read the other threads on this audio sub forum guys, there are multiple threads that go back months and years about both the Avin and Dynavin units. Based on some of the questions Im seeing here Im guessing Tim's post must have lured some non-regulars into this audio forum.
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Old 08-16-2014, 09:27 AM   #14
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Great post Tim! I am happy to hear that the AVIN Avant-2 was able to make your 1000 mile journey to Bimmerfest East 2014 that much more enjoyable.


According to the Google Play App store there are over 1,000,000 reason to choose the AVIN Avant-2 over the Dynavin N6.

https://avinusa.com/bmw-e46-avant2-f...on-system.html

Two very popular apps amongst BMW enthusiast are the Torque and BMWhat app.
Both apps have been tested and confirmed to work great with the AVIN Avant-2 and our BMW E46.



Description
- Advanced car diagnostic App for BMW cars
- The only specific diagnostic tool for BMW on Android!
- With this app you can read out fault codes like the experts.
- While OBD Readers are limited to a small number of electronic control units (ECUs) and even a smaller number of fault codes, this app reads out practically all compatible ECUs.
- Normally this is only possible with very expensive expert equipment.
- Now you can check your car yourself in-depth!
- It provides modell specific fault code explanations.
- ...and you can even clear the stored manufacturer DTC fault codes - not just OBD!
Main features are:
- Perform selected in-depth fault analysis
- Provide model specific text explanation of fault code
- Send the analysis protocol per email
- Clear DTC fault codes
- Codings with many possibilities
- Engine parameter monitoring for many engines

https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...iNi.bmwhatLite











Torque OBD2

Description
See what your car is doing in realtime, get OBD fault codes, car performance, sensor data and more!
Torque is a vehicle / car performance / diagnostics tool and scanner that uses an OBD II Bluetooth adapter to connect to your OBD2 engine management / ECU
Layout your own dashboard with the widgets / gauges you want!
It can use the GPS to provide tracker logs with OBD engine logging so you can see what you were doing at any point in time
It can also show and reset a DTC / CEL / fault code like a scantool. Helps you fix your car and helps keep repair costs down!
Torque also features:
* Dyno / Dynomometer and Horsepower/HP & Torque
* Can read Transmission Temperatures (vehicle dependant)
* 0-60 speed timings - more accurate than just using plain old GPS - see how fast your car is (or truck )
* CO2 emissions readout
* Customisable dashboard & profiles
* Video your journey using the Track Recorder plugin with onscreen OBDII data overlay - a black box for your car/truck!
* Automatically send GPS tagged tweets directly to twitter (for example if you are going on a road trip)
* Massive fault code database for lookup of fault codes from different manufacturers
* Theme support (choose from different themes to change the look of your dashboard)
* Send logging information to web or email CSV/KML for analysis via excel / openoffice reader
* Heads up display / HUD mode for night time driving
* Compass (GPS Based) that won't suffer magnetic interference
* GPS Speedometer/Tracking and realtime web upload capability - see what you were doing and your engine, at a point in time
* Turbo boost feature for vehicles that support MAP and MAF sensors (VW & Golf / Audi / Seat etc supported)
* Alarms and warnings (for example if your coolant temperature goes over 120C whilst driving) with voice/speech overlay
* Car dock support
* Graph data
* MPG
* Able to share screenshots to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Email, etc

https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...g.prowl.torque



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Old 08-16-2014, 09:44 AM   #15
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The current AVIN Avant-2 unit supports connection with the Valentine One Radar detector and displays the radar information on the AVIN touchscreen. Now you can install the Valentine One radar in places where potential thieves can not see it and still have access to the radar indicators and bogey count. You would need the V1Connection Bluetooth module and then pair it with the AVIN unit. We tested it with the YaV1 app available for download from the Google Play store and it works great.

http://www.valentine1.com/v1info/v1connection/android/

If anyone has questions about this feature or anything about the AVIN Avant-2 unit feel free to chat with us LIVE directly from our site. www.AVINUSA.com

https://avinusa.com/bmw-e46-avant2-f...on-system.html





Description of the YaV1 free app:

YaV1 (Yet Another V1 application) enhances the capabilities of your Valentine One Radar Locator when used in conjunction with the V1Connection Bluetooth adapter, and allows you to tailor its performance to fit your driving style.
Improve your Situational Awareness with:
* 3 View types - a classic V1 style, a detailed frequency Alerts view, and a Filtered view that allows you to set your own criteria
* Onscreen speed and bearing display
* SAVVY emulation to automatically silence any alerts below a specified speed limit
* GPS-based lockouts to permanently ignore known falses
* Drift adjustable dynamically while running
* Define your own "In The Box" frequency ranges for high-priority alerts, display filters, or automute parameters
* Voice alerts enabled per defined box
* Set your own sounds for audio alerts on your phone
* Background mode can display an overlay view with alert on top of other foreground applications
* Log your alerts and export them into Google Maps for later review or to match them up with footage from a dashcam
Fine-tune your Valentine One:
* Create and manage Profiles of V1 settings that can be pushed to the V1 with the tap of a button
* Enable European mode and configure Custom Sweeps to maximize your reactivity to threats specific to your region

Here is a link to the YaV1 Android app if you guys want to check out what it can do.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d....franckyl.yav1
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Old 08-16-2014, 11:00 AM   #16
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1 Free Torque Compatible Bluetooth OBD2 - BLACK with each AVIN Avant-2 order.

Offer valid while Tim's AVIN Avant-2 review post is still on the main page of E46Fanatics.com and while supplies last.
Please email me at tommy@avinusa.com immediately after you have placed your order and mention this offer to request the 1 Free OBD2 adapter.
The free offer will not be valid if we do not receive the email request immediately after the order is placed.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1048690



https://avinusa.com/bmw-e46-avant2-f...on-system.html
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Old 08-16-2014, 02:10 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by tommy@avinusa.com View Post
The current AVIN Avant-2 unit supports connection with the Valentine One Radar detector and displays the radar information on the AVIN touchscreen. Now you can install the Valentine One radar in places where potential thieves can not see it and still have access to the radar indicators and bogey count.
Now this is super-slick on the face of it. I have StealthOne--no longer in production--and like the fact that all V1 info is routed through to my headunit display, where only I can see it. The bright red V1 readout with all of its flashing and arrow-pointing is completely blacked out.

Does AVIN have the ability to "blackout" the Valentine's display while sending the bogey and arrow information to the AVIN screeen? Or does it rely on the user to setup a concealed installation of the actual V1 unit?

Can we look at some V1 "action" shots through the AVIN?
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Old 08-16-2014, 10:09 PM   #18
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Can you wifi tether to a phone to get internet access?
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:01 AM   #19
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Can you add more than 1 camera? I would like a reverse camera in addition to the DVR one that is mounted by the mirror. Also can it show the rear cam automatically when car is put into reverse?

Also has anyone added coding software to this such as ncs expert, inpa or something like that?
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:03 AM   #20
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Can you wifi tether to a phone to get internet access?
You can make some phones a "mobile hot spot" then use that internet, or read the response to my first post on this thread and other options are explained
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