The MB STAR system, when it made its debut, was much more capable because it was PC-based (IBM T30 laptop), but it was also very versatile
because it incorporated a HHT emulation mode (for backward compatibility) along with a "multiplexer" intermediate unit between the PC and the car,
which allowed the connection of a variety of different diagnostic connection cables, depending on which diagnostic system the car in question happened
to use. For the oldest cars (i.e. the C126, early R129 SL models, early W124s and W140s, etc.) a "four-pin" diagnostic cable was provided. For second-
generation cars, such as the E500E, 400E/E420, middle and later R129s, middle and later W140s, the familiar "38-pin" plug is provided. There are also
OBD-2 interface cables for model year 1996 and later cars, as well as a 14-pin cable for European diagnostic systems. All of these cables allow the
combination of the MB STAR C4
with the in-line multiplexer unit to fully interface with any particular car's computers.
As I said, the MB STAR system debuted around 10-11 years ago, in 2001. Because of its expense, it has been very much "out of reach" of most MB
owners and enthusiasts. To pull codes and get information about the car, owners were forced to buy limited testers from companies like Snap-On,
Trisco, and others that perhaps allowed one to pull and reset codes, and a couple of solutions provided some limited "live data" where the car allowed it.
These systems would typically run from $500 to well over $1,000. The other option was to somehow obtain a used HHT (they are occasionally available
via eBay, and are quite expensive) or a used MB STAR system - still a huge expense of multiple thousands of dollars used.