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  1. Software Review: Jukebox Jockey Home Edition

    by , 04-27-2010 at 02:45 PM


    What is it?

    Jukebox Jockey is a touch-friendly media player and karaoke front end.

    The Verdict:The Jukebox Jockey software has been a joy to review. Its very feature-rich and some new innovations not yet seen in the car PC arena. The software is as simple or as flexible as you choose for it to be and never gets in a users way thanks to a clever GUI. Any mobile PC user looking for well-supported program to manage most of their media on the go should look first at Jukebox Jockey.

    Jukebox Jockey is available now at http://www.jukeboxjockey.com/



    Description:

    Jukebox Jockey is a windows application built to be a simple yet fully functioning media player. It’s different from the multitude of existing media player software in that Jukebox Jockey is built from the ground up to be touchscreen-friendly. This obviously has plenty of benefits on a small screened car PC, but Jukebox Jockey also shines in a party environment. Most of my review will focus on Jukebox Jockeys aspirations as a simple media car PC front end, but I will say the app is simply the best application out there for controlling music, video, and karaoke playback for a group of people.



    A person looking for a simple and powerful media player for their 7-inch touchscreen should seriously consider Jukebox Jockey. While it lacks the expansion that most other commercially available mobile PC front ends offer, it does what it’s meant to do with absolute ease. The entire interface is skinnable. The buttons are large enough to be pressed on your standard car touchscreen and for the most part they are text-labeled when they need to be. This means you know what the button does before you press it. While the application will run at 800x600, the developer is currently working on skinning options for resolutions that low. There is no “home” screen which houses all of the media options, rather a simple “Change Mode” button which brings up a small menu which allows selection.



    From there, it’s easy to find the media you’re looking for. The top portion of the application window allows you to select how you wish to find your media. Browse-by-album-art is present, and will perhaps be the preferred method. The ability to sort by decades is a new and welcomed feature when comparing to other vehicle front ends. There is also a pretty handy instant search function which searches for results each time a key on the on-screen QWERTY keyboard is pressed. All media is scanned into Jukebox Jockey via the options button on the top of the application. Scanning media is relatively quick, but it does have to be done each time new music/videos are added.



    Playlists are housed on the right side of the application window. Jukebox Jockey has a different take on playlist handling. By default, the playlist shrinks as songs are played. In Jukebox Jockey the playlist is more of a request list, and this makes sense considering the software doubles as DJ software. Overall the music and video players rivals most other media players on the market.



    What you won’t find in most media players and especially on car PCs is a karaoke mode. This mode was by far the most fun to use in a party environment, but I did have passengers in the car playing as I drove down the road. Jukebox Jockey is very easy for passengers and newcomers to control. There is even a specific party mode which administrators can enable to lock down settings and controls that secondary users would not need access too.

    The Positive:

    • Built to be touchscreen friendly
    • Built-in media library which organizes/searches media in a multitude of ways
    • Fully Skinnable• 2nd Screen support for media information and karaoke lyrics
    • Simple installation on any PC with windows XP or newer
    • Small footprint and doesn’t use too much memory
    • Easy to use for beginners, a huge list of options for experienced users
    • Bass audio engine for high audio fidelity
    • Actively supported

    The Negative:

    • Video player did not support h264 encoded videos

    • No current skin for 800x480

    The Verdict:

    The Jukebox Jockey software has been a joy to review. Its very feature-rich and some new innovations not yet seen in the car PC arena. The software is as simple or as flexible as you choose for it to be and never gets in a users way thanks to a clever GUI. Any mobile PC user looking for well-supported program to manage most of their media on the go should look first at Jukebox Jockey.

    Jukebox Jockey is available now at http://www.jukeboxjockey.com/

    Updated 04-27-2010 at 03:11 PM by Sonicxtacy02

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    Product Reviews
  2. Hardware Review: Lilliput 669GL-70NP/C/T 7" HDMI Monitor

    by , 04-26-2010 at 10:05 AM


    What is it?

    The Lilliput 669GL is a brand new 7” touchscreen monitor featuring HDMI connectivity.

    The Verdict:

    When weighing the new features with some of the things still missing in a 2010 Lilliput model, its clear to see that the 669GL is the first model in what many hope will be the future of small touchscreen monitors. Lilliput obviously spent time and focus on getting HDMI/DVI capabilities to work, and they DO work. This is the clearest Lilliput display out there, as long as you are not working in the sun.

    See the Lilliput 669GL on the mp3Car Store here.



    What’s in the box?



    The Lilliput 669GL comes packed with practically every kind of cable you would need to use with the monitor. Included is an HDMI to HDMI-USB cable, HDMI to DVI-USB cable, VGA to VGA-USB cable, and a DIN to composite (2 input) cable. For power, the 669GL comes with both a home A/C adapter plug and a 12v DC car charger cable. The 669GL also comes with a standard VESA mount, remote control with battery, touchscreen driver CD, and instruction manual.

    Description:

    The 669GL-70NP/C/T is the latest 7” touchscreen monitor Lilliput has released. To my knowledge it is the first 7” monitor of its kind to feature on-board HDMI connection. The creators were wise to leave compatibility with the tried and true VGA connection, and even threw a HDMI to DVI cable to further enhance compatibility. Regardless of your preferred input source, the Lilliput 669 has you covered.



    Though it makes hardly any difference when connecting to 669GL to a standard computer, car PC enthusiast should find the HDMI connection a lifesaver when it comes to getting a monitor installed in a vehicle. This is of course is provided they have the motherboard and/or video card that accepts either an HDMI or DVI connector. Prior models of Lilliput and other small monitors in the car PC community have suffered from screen ghosting and/or flickering as a result of having to run long strands of analog cabling inside a motor vehicle where interference issues tend to be more prevalent. I made it a point to test this issue with a full-digital HDMI connection. My aging Lilliput 629 installed in the dash of my RSX has always had some level of flickering and the ghosting of images and text is just something I grew to live with. I’m happy to say that the connecting the HDMI from my Intel DG45FC motherboard directly to the Lilliput 669 immediately solved BOTH problems.



    I also noticed shortly after powering up the PC that the colors on the screen just appear deeper than with previous Lilliput screens. I don’t know if it’s the digital connection or perhaps the new LCD panel installed in the 669GL, but the color and contrast is among the best I’ve seen on a 7” screen. Text appears sharper than before, even in the 1024x768 photos shown above. With an HDMI connection the screen is fully capable with 1080i/p playback, a feat that's extremely impressive for a rather small screen.The Lilliput 669GL features an all new bezel, new LCD panel (Innolux AT070TN82), and a new, slightly larger controller board. This of course means someone wanting to upgrade from an older lilliput may find complications in there existing fabrication when switching to the 669GL. The HDMI sticks out more than the previous VGA cable. This coupled with the larger controller board means the 669GL is not easily compatible with enclosures such as the double-din enclosure that MP3car store sells. I was able to just barely make the enclosure work by using a right-angle HDMI adapter and alternate means of securing the controller board to the enclosure.



    The main problem you encounter with the 669GL occurs when you place this monitor into direct sunlight. For some unknown reason, the manufacturer decided to scale back the brightness on the 669GL. The rating in the monitor’s specification is just 250 nits. If there were one absolute bummer when it comes to the 669GL it’s that its just not meant to be used sunlight. The colors completely wash out, and because the screen is not transflective you must deal with a tremendous amount of glare before even beginning to interpret what’s on screen. Below are two comparison photos; the first is with no flash taken with my digital camera, the second with flash and a rather low ISO.



    Unfortunately, the brightness on the LCD isn’t the only thing missing from the Lilliput 669GL. It does not currently have the ability to automatically switch to an auxiliary input upon connection of a 12v source. This means us with rear-view cameras must come up with another plan to see what we’re backing up into. Prior model Lilliputs like the 629 had the ability to modify the controller panel to accommodate this feature but to this point it’s not possible to do on the 669GL.One feature that’s missing that perhaps will not affect car PC users is the lack of backlit buttons on the front of the enclosure. To my knowledge this is the first Lilliput that has had this missing. The power button lights up, barely, but the other buttons remain in the dark.The last feature that didn’t make the cut is the ability to control the screens brightness via a photosensor on the enclosure. At first glance it appears the IR receiver on the front of the Lilliput bezel has been modified to accommodate this in the same manner than competing Xenarc and other devices do, but in testing I see no difference in screen brightness between light and dark rooms.

    The Positive:

    • HDMI connectivity
    • Abundance of wiring options
    • Cleaner display with rich color and better contrast
    • Native resolution of 800x480, with the ability to display 1080p
    • Auto-power on when video signal is detected
    • Priced well to compete with other manufacturers

    The Negative:
    • Lower brightness rating than competing products
    • No auto-switch capability
    • No auto-dimmer found in competing products
    • STILL no transflective!
    • New controller board means incompatility with some bezels on the market

    The Verdict:

    When weighing the new features with some of the things still missing in a 2010 Lilliput model, its clear to see that the 669GL is the first model in what many hope will be the future of small touchscreen monitors. Lilliput obviously spent time and focus on getting HDMI/DVI capabilities to work, and they DO work. This is the clearest Lilliput display out there, as long as you are not working in the sun.

    See the Lilliput 669GL on the mp3Car Store here.

    Updated 04-26-2010 at 10:14 AM by Sonicxtacy02

    Categories
    Product Reviews
  3. Hardware Review: Mini-Box M3-ATX-HV Power Supply

    by , 03-24-2010 at 10:52 PM

    What is it?

    The M3-ATX HV is a 95-Watt DC to DC smart automotive power supply.

    The Verdict:

    The M3-ATX HV is an impressive little power supply. The manufacturer appears to have harnessed the core features of previous smart power supplies into a smaller and more efficient form factor. The only true sacrifice for M3-ATX HV users will be total power output. If you can accept this, you get a high-quality smart power supply which will work for vehicles based on 12v OR 24v systems.

    Buy the M3-ATX-HV 95 Watt - Smart Automotive Power Supply on the mp3Car Store now.



    What’s in the box?

    The M3-ATX comes with only the power supply and a series of mini-jumpers for timer settings. All cables used by the M3-ATX are soldered directly to the board.

    Description:

    The M3-ATX HV is a fully RoHS compliant DC/DC ATX converter module capable of powering computer systems with up to a 120-watt demand. Constant power usage should be limited to the suggested 95-watt capacity. The M3-ATX HV appears almost identical to the 125-watt M3-ATX but offers a wider input range to allow for greater flexibility in installation platforms. Whereas the input on the M3-ATX is limited to 24v, the HV variant allows up to 34v. Needless to say 24v systems would be run at greater efficiency with the M3-ATX HV.

    The M3-ATX HV is considered a PICO-PSU. Its intended purpose is for small, efficient, power-sipping systems such as the latest Atom-based boards from Intel. I initially tried powering my core-2-duo Intel DG45FC board with the M3-ATX HV but I was unable to get past POST messages. My less-powerful Intel D201GLY board however was able to run successfully with a host of USB devices connected. The obvious benefit in using the M3-ATX HV other than its voltage capabilities is its size. When compared to the older M2-ATX it’s easy to see how the M3’s PICO form factor could come in handy in car PC or even embedded platforms


    M2-ATX on the top, M3-ATX HV device on the bottom

    My initial reaction to the size of the M3-ATX HV was very positive. As a car PC hobbyist I know that we feel “the smaller, the better”. Upon installing the device I did run into a problem that could end up being a problem for anyone installing a M3 into their system.


    As shown above, the M3-ATX HV comes in contact with a USB header on the rear of the D201GLY motherboard. Though the power supply works as installed, the ATX connector does not quite sit flush, and a jolt from a pothole or speed bump could very well dislodge the component touching the header.

    Overlooking the fitment problem, I continued the installation of the M3 HV. The power supply has only a specific set of wires which makes installation easy when compared to other PSUs on the market. Simply connect your 12V, GND, and ACC lines to the RED, BLACK, and WHITE wires respectively. Then connect the SATA power or MOLEX connector to your hard drive or split these wires to extend power to multiple components. The only wire that actually needs to be manually plugged into the M3-ATX HV board is the motherboard power switch wire, and the 3-pin female end of this included wire only fits one way on the power supply. Optionally, you can connect the white wire on the 3-pin cable to your car’s amplifier to provide a delay which will prevent the speaker “THUMP” that occurs in some systems.

    Completing these steps alone allows the M3-ATX HV to work as a dummy mode PSU. For smart power supply settings, the M3-ATX HV has a set of pins which can be jumped for shutdown timing options. There are 4 options which allow a simple jumper or two to set the shutdown/hard off time. A fifth option which allows user-customized settings is available, but such a task requires a separate cable which I have no access to at this time.

    The Positive:

    • Small form factor increases installation flexibility
    • Wider range of input voltages than most PSUs on the market
    • Ability to customize shutdown/hard off times
    • Built-in cables means less can go wrong for beginner installers

    The Negative:

    • Only 95-watts sustained output means your limited to VIA/Intel Atom products
    • Form factor can impede installation on certain motherboards



    The Verdict:

    The M3-ATX HV is an impressive little power supply. The manufacturer appears to have harnessed the core features of previous smart power supplies into a smaller and more efficient form factor. The only true sacrifice for M3-ATX HV users will be total power output. If you can accept this, you get a high-quality smart power supply which will work for vehicles based on 12v OR 24v systems.

    Specifications:

    Dimensions: 40x43mm
    Efficiency Rating: up to 94%
    5v Output: 7A Max, < 30 Sec.
    3.3v Output: 7A Max. < 30 Sec
    12v Output: 5A Max, < 30 Sec
    -12v Output: .10A Max, < 30 Sec
    5VSB Output: 2A Max, < 30 Sec
    Input Voltage Range: 6VDC to 34VDC
    Deep Discharge Shut Down: 11.2V
    Operating Temperature Range:-40°C to 65°C
    Operation Modes:
    -5 Seconds soft off, 60 seconds Hard Off
    -1 Minute soft off, 5 minutes Hard Off
    -30 Minutes soft off, 2 hours Hard Off
    -2 Hours soft off, 2 Hours Hard Off

    Buy the M3-ATX-HV 95 Watt - Smart Automotive Power Supply on the mp3Car Store now.
  4. Hardware Review: ToughBox 15 Chenbro Based Intel D510MO Mini ITX System

    by , 02-26-2010 at 11:59 AM


    What is it?

    The Mp3car Toughbox 15 is a Chenbro based mini-ITX computer built with an Intel D510MO motherboard. Mp3car allows a full line of customization options with the Toughbox 15, and the price for a self-installed Toughbox 15 starts at only $279.00

    The Verdict:

    The Toughbox 15 is perhaps the most versatile bundle that Mp3car has currently. It seems to have the flexibility to find a niche no matter where it’s installed. Everything with the Toughbox 15 works… and it works quietly, elegantly and efficiently. Whether you’re looking for a do-it-all car computer platform, a sturdy quiet and energy-efficient workstation, or a stable and reliable embedded application, the Toughbox 15 from Mp3car can work for you.

    See the ToughBox 15 on the mp3Car Store here.



    What’s in the box?


    The base Toughbox 15 system consists of a Chenbro mini ITX enclosure, an optional vertical stand, an Intel D510MO motherboard with an integrated Intel Atom D510 processor, 512 MHz of DDR2 ram, and a 160GB laptop grade hard drive. The Chenbro case has openings for 2 front USB ports and connectors front-case audio. The Toughbox 15 also comes standard with a 60w power supply and A/C adapter. The Toughbox 15 differs from the previous systems sold by Mp3car as it comes fully tested and assembled with no extra cost. Optionally, Mp3car allows expansion of the Toughbox 15 by adding a 2 port USB module, a Panasonic UJ-875-A slot-load DVD/CD drive, 2GHz of DDR 2 Ram, an Intel 80GB solid-state hard drive, Nano USB Bluetooth dongle, and an external USB 802.11B/G/N Wifi Card. To further aid in the installation process Mp3car will optionally install Windows 7 Professional operating system, and add a M2-ATX vehicle power supply. The total price for the Toughbox 15 with all included options is $967.94.

    Description:

    The Toughbox 15, like the Toughbox 14, is a small, lightweight and powerful dual-core computing system. Its design and specifications prove the Toughbox 15 is worthy of more than just a basic car PC installation. In fact, with the look of its sleek and elegant case, the Toughbox 15 may be better suited as a workstation or an embedded platform. The Chenbro case is simply the best looking case I’ve seen to date in the hobby. There’s a large chrome colored power switch on the front of the case which illuminates with a bright but not intrusive blue ring of LEDs. The edges are curved and the included vertical stand shows the Toughbox 15 would be right at home on any desk or HTPC rack out there.






    The Toughbox 15 also improves on its power specifications from the Toughbox 14. It uses the new Intel D510 dual-core processor. Though its clock speed varies only slightly from the Atom N270 (1.66 GHz vs. 1.6 GHz), the D510 handles itself quite well with video playback and more CPU-intensive programs. The Toughbox’s processor is passively cooled, which means less noise in your workspace, while taking up less than three quarters of the size of today’s conventional desktop workstations.




    I feel it’d be a shame to take the design of the Toughbox 15 and install it in a trunk or behind a panel in an automobile, but that doesn’t mean the Toughbox 15 isn’t ready for the task. Simply remove the standard 60w PSU and mount a M2-ATX automotive power supply, and the Toughbox 15 will handle any car PC task. It runs Flux Media’s Centrafuse Auto on its highest graphic and effect settings with no lag. iNav iGuidance and iGo 8 PC will run embedded into a front end flawlessly.


    As with most computers, the magic is inside the case. Removing the outer shell of the Chenbro case revealed the D510MO motherboard with a fan-less heat sink covering both the embedded processor and chipset.


    To my approval, the 2 available RAM slots are spaced far enough from the heat sink that installing a chip of RAM isn’t nearly as painful as with most embedded dual-core setups. To the right of the motherboard in a vertical mount is the included 60w power supply.




    The standard power supply connects to the outside 12v A/C adapter through a barrel connector on the rear of the case. This same connector can be connected to the optional M2-atx, meaning less loose wires cluttering up the rear of your case in the event you want to install the Toughbox in a vehicle.

    Unlike the Toughbox 14, the Toughbox 15’s enclosure has enough space to house a laptop style slot-load dvd/cd combo drive. This again shows that the Toughbox would fit right at home or in the workplace. The combo drive’s wires are all run to the motherboard, meaning no USB slots are taken like with most car PCs. Sharing a bracket with the combo drive is a 160GB laptop grade hard drive. Mp3car does have options for hard drive installations in the Toughbox 15, and most car PC users should probably elect to use the 40GB ruggedized drive or perhaps the 80GB solid state drive available.

    The rear of the Toughbox 15 is of standard ITX PC fare, the only real difference is the presence of the barrel-connector mentioned earlier. There are 4 USB ports assuring an abundance of connectivity options. There’s your standard VGA connector, Ethernet connector, and the standard 3 audio connectors. Instead of opting for more USB or firewire connection options, Intel decided to keep standard ps/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse. It baffles me why they decided to keep these connectors on a new motherboard, especially considering most hardware manufacturers don’t even make ps/2 keyboard and mouse devices anymore. The rear is also missing a DVI port, something that’s been included in nearly every other motherboard Intel has released in the last 2 years.


    Aside from those 2 questionable calls, the rear connectors on the back of the Toughbox 15 are clean and nicely spaced, allowing for hassle free installation in both the workplace and the car.

    The Positive:

    • Absolute beautiful and well thought out casing
    • Customizable to individual user needs
    • Performance and reliability of the Intel dual-core product
    • Energy efficient design
    • Flexible enough to be installed in the home, work, or car
    • Small form factor which allows for multiple mounting options
    • Comes with power supply for the home and options for the car

    The Negative:

    • Sacrifices USB connectors for legacy ps/2 connectors
    • No DVI display output
    • Use of more than 2 channel audio requires an additional header connection
    • Cost when compared to self-built self-sourced system

    The Verdict:

    The Toughbox 15 is perhaps the most versatile bundle that Mp3car has currently. It seems to have the flexibility to find a niche no matter where it’s installed. Everything with the Toughbox 15 works… and it works quietly, elegantly and efficiently. Whether you’re looking for a do-it-all car computer platform, a sturdy quiet and energy-efficient workstation, or a stable and reliable embedded application, the Toughbox 15 from Mp3car can work for you.

    See the ToughBox 15 on the mp3Car Store here.
  5. Hardware Review: ByByte 'Black Box' Carputer Enclosure

    by , 02-04-2010 at 03:24 PM


    What is it?

    The Black Box N is ByByte's newest chassis product that is fully ISO compliant with the Double DIN standard for automotive radio size. The kit allows a PC builder to construct a fully enclosed bolt in touchscreen computer with little to no fabrication required.

    The Verdict:

    A Solid, cost effective, well designed product, aimed at experienced PC builders and embedded system design. While this may not be the product of choice for someone doing a complex system with additional hardware needed, it does offer a platform for a great Nano-ITX based, bolt in PC, with absolutely no fabrication work required. This system would be well sited for music, videos, navigation and the like. My suggestion would be to research what the Nano-ITX hardware can and cannot do, and decide if it is right for you before taking the plunge. It should be noted that this case can be ordered with the LCD hardware already installed for those who do not want to tackle the LCD mounting.

    See this product on the mp3Car Store HERE.



    What's in the box?

    The package arrived at my door in a quick manner from the Mp3car store via UPS, enclosed was a well packed black ABS case, and a bag containing 4 smaller bags of hardware, A main wiring harness with disconnect, and a sheet of paper with the via audio header pinout. The box also included a fair amount of packing peanuts that I chose not to photograph.






    Description:

    I began my review by spreading out the parts on my work table, placing them on a measuring grid for reference purposes. (This is a 1" x 1" grid table) The "box" itself measures out to 7"w x 7"d x 4.1"h making this a true ISO Double Din Size. The box should accept Metra, Scosche and other after market trim kits to allow direct bolt in results for most vehicles. First step was to remove the lid from the unit which is held in place by 6 screws.












    Upon lid removal one can see an audio wiring harness, fan, 2.5" hard disk mounting provisions, and plastic standoff's arranged in a nano-ITX form factor. There are an arrary of holes in the back of the case to allow mounting of the wiring harness included in the kit, along with PS2, 5 volt out and USB surface mounting, and a nano-ITX motherboard I/O panel. The audio header looks like a direct "plug-n-play" connection to the nano ITX hardware. The wiring harness is well labeled and includes a direct power connection to the monitor hardware. For the review I used a new LED Lilliput 629 style monitor which worked perfectly with the blackbox-n. I have experience using ByByte's LCD mounting brackets so installing the Lilliput hardware was a snap. Just remove the included ABS mounting bracket from the front of the chassis and attach the LCD controller board and switch panel. This same bracket is also used to sandwich the LCD and Touchscreen panel in place. The LCD and Touchscreen fit into place snugly and accurately, installed by dropping the bottom in first and lifting them into place.










    A little tip: when mounting the switch PCB, make sure the connector sits in between the bracket and LCD controller, other wise it will be crooked and not install correctly. Circled in red here:


    Here are a few more shots of the LCD controller install, along with showing how its mounted in the case without the LCD in place for reference.










    In order to make the interface cable work in the case, the stress relief part of the cable needs to be trimmed carefully. I was able to trim it with a x-acto blade. (note this cable comes with the monitor NOT the black box kit)








    Included in the kit is also an IR relocation wire, so the remote interface can be moved to the front part of the bezel allowing the use of the Lilliput remote since the button board is concealed in this case.

    With the LCD installed next step is to install a 2.5" drive which is a simple process. The screws that hold the drive go up through the bottom of the box and into the drive. Here is how the drive goes, interface towards the front of the case.




    Here is the power connector that plugs into the Lilliput harness.


    The next step after mounting the LCD and Hard Disk is mounting the nano-ITX hardware itself, which unfortunately I have not made up my mind yet as to which nano-ITX motherboard I am going to use, so I do not have pictures of it mounted.. yet. (stay tuned for that) This is probably the easiest step however as the motherboard sits over the hard disk and gets mounted with 4 screws on the plastic stand-offs glued to the bottom of the case.

    The Positive:

    Well to put it bluntly, Cost! The kit can be had for around $55 plus shipping cost which is a great deal for what it includes, and the amount of R&D that likely went into it. The kit is easy to work on, is a simple design, and includes everything you need to get started building a bolt-in PC. Also a winner is the true ISO Double DIN design allowing the use of aftermarket trim kits for a clean seamless install. There are also a few specialty parts on the bybyte site specifically for this case, including a VGA header to Lillput DIN cable which eliminates the large and cumbersome 6' monitor cable from the design, along with a small AMP kit for those who want to push some factory car speakers and have the ultimate complete bolt in PC with amplified output. The cooling fan is a good idea due to the enclosed design of the case.

    The "WOW" factor of the case, as seeing how one can build a system with the same size as an alpine, pioneer, etc, unit, while considerably out powering the competition.

    The design is clean and the case is strong for how lightweight it is.

    The Negative:

    The case is aimed solely at Nano-ITX hardware or Pico-ITX hardware, which are still expensive options, and do most of the I/O via headers on the board itself. While this is great because it keeps all the cabling internal, it may prove difficult for less experienced PC builders. For reference here is a picture of a standard ITX board on the chassis:


    You can see that it will not fit the chassis at all due to the LCD controller, so do not bother attempting to use standard ITX hardware, unless you plan on lots of modification.

    Another trait I did not care for is the bezel and bottom lid appeared to use mechanical fasteners to hold them in place, but somewhere in the manufacturing stage it looks like super glue was added to hold the bottom lid and bezel in place. I prefer a more modular chassis design, so do not expect the bezel and bottom to come apart, they are glued together. Also the motherboard stand off's are glued into place making the LCD install a bit tricky.

    The final negative is more subjective since I did not do any testing on this, but the material used in the construction of the chassis is ABS plastic, which offers no EMI shielding of the circuit boards, and no common grounding reference point. It will be interesting to see when the PC is complete if there are any EMI or ground loop issues.

    The Verdict:

    A Solid, cost effective, well designed product, aimed at experienced PC builders and embedded system design. While this may not be the product of choice for someone doing a complex system with additional hardware needed, it does offer a platform for a great Nano-ITX based, bolt in PC, with absolutely no fabrication work required. This system would be well sited for music, videos, navigation and the like. My suggestion would be to research what the Nano-ITX hardware can and cannot do, and decide if it is right for you before taking the plunge. It should be noted that this case can be ordered with the LCD hardware already installed for those who do not want to tackle the LCD mounting.

    Specs:

    Width: 7"
    Depth: 7"
    Height: 4.1"
    Construction: ABS Plastic
    Form Factor: Nano-ITX recommended or Pico-ITX with fabrication necessary
    Suggested LCD: Lilliput 629 and 701 series
    Power supply: M3-atx recommended or M2-atx
    Disk Provisions: (1) 2.5" Hard disk drive sata, or pata, SSD recommended.

    Thanks again Mp3car for the great community! Stay Tuned for the Nano ITX board install.

    See this product on the mp3Car Store HERE.