Being new to the M3 forums I found Alekshop offering several enhancements with a factory type finish. Having a Lexus with an integrated rear-view camera I felt the BMW was lacking in that department. After meeting with Aleks, he informed me of other enhancements that could be done and thus the journey began.
(Note: Aleks did all the installation for the components so please refer to him for any installation questions.)
Rear View Camera
The rear view camera is a wonderful addition to the BMW as it allows you to view objects behind you. This is an excellent upgrade for individuals with or without the parking distance controller (PDC). As my car was not built with the rear PDC I felt this was a necessary upgrade, especially so if you park in the city.
Since Aleks did the installation I can only comment on the functionality. As many reviews have stated, the system is fully integrated with either a manual transmission or DCT. As my vehicle is equipped with a DCT once the car is put in “R” the camera immediately activates and switches your navigation display to the rear view camera. A note will appear on the screen stating “Never Rely Solely on Camera System “ which will disappear in a few seconds then a distance indicator bar will take its place. Be advised the distance indicator bar is only an approximation. When the car is not in “R” the camera is deactivated and then you return to your previous menu.
The camera is integrated into the rear license plate light where is contains an LED as it replaces the OEM license plate LED.
The fit of this enhancement is second to none with everything integrated into the factory BMW system offering an OEM finish.
Rear-view camera and integrated LED
Rear-view camera "message"
Rear-view camera distance bar
With vehicles built prior to 2011 and every early build 2011 models, the combox was not offered by BMW. Only recently has BMW integrated the combox into their vehicles. This box allows a more integrated approach with wireless and media devices. This is not necessarily an upgrade but retrofit where one needs to remove the existing bluetooth and BMW assist controllers and substitute back a single box rather than two. What is gained from this is the ability to gain access to a more integrated system allowing the driver to access iPod/iPhone video function, Blackberry Office with bluetooth media, BMW Apps and hopefully much more in the near future.
With a blackberry, with blackberry office, you are able to check and review both text and e-mail messages in the iDrive display and as new messages arrive you will be notified on the iDrive. As reading messages while driving can distract a driver, BMW has integrated a feature that allows the text or e-mail message to be read to you through it computer automated voice. If you have subscribed to the BMW convenience plan you may know about this feature, as it is used similarly to read back the “News” feature in the plan.
Additionally, what becomes available is access to iPod videos, album art, and a plug-in feature. With the iPod videos and album art should be self-explanatory, the plug-in feature may not be. The plug-in feature allows the user to change the iDrive display into a more iPod like display.
Some caveats come with this retrofit that will hopefully be worked out in the near future in regards with the BMW Assist feature. Since this is not functional as of yet after the retrofit, I will not comment on this.
Main Menu (with Office & Connected Drive)
Navigation Menu (with E-mail Notification)
Radio Menu (with E-mail Notification in top right bar)
External devices menu (with Blackberry & iPod)
Office Menu (with Current Office, Contacts & Messages)
Current office menu (informs you about unread text messages & e-mails)
Messages menu (encompasses both texts and e-mails)
Opened text message (menu on side allows to play message back)
iPod (video menu choice on the side)
iPod video menu
iPod video (playing in small screen, after it will go full screen)
iPod video (playing full screen, note that it will not play the entire screen, but will cover 3/4)
Integrated and concealed Valentine-1
This is very neat way to have a radar detector either escort or valentine-1 installed. What Aleks does is integrate the display of the valentine-1 into the rear-view mirror and conceal the sensors for the radar into the center headrests. Although this method will lose the laser detection the integration feature more than makes up for the fact that you are not displaying the radar in plain sight.
Valentine-1 Rear-view mirror integration
Valentine-1 Controller (Driver Footwell)
OEM Euro Visors / Black Kidneys & Side Grills
The OEM Euro Visor retrofit is great as it will remove the previous plastic covered one initially on the the vehicle. Additionally, the black kidney and side grills will remove the chrome versions. All parts are OEM BMW and the fit and finish is perfect.
Black kidney grills
Euro Sun visors
Aleks is a great individual and his work is second to none. After installing the rear-view camera a problem arose with the camera with it sporadically displaying a blank screen. I contacted him and he diagnosed the problem and replaced the non-functional cable. Later, the LED parking within the camera assembly went out and Aleks was more than willing to replace that also. Both incidences were done free of charge. Aleks prides himself in what he does and backs whatever product his sells and installs. He is not one to cut corners and is very explicit in what the pros and cons are with each product. Aleks is a great individual and a excellent installer.
Thanks for reading. Cheers.