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  1. The iPad's role in your car?

    by , 03-18-2010 at 04:54 AM


    At first glance, the idea of having a 7.5" x 9.5" iPad in or around my dash doesn't sound realistic or desirable at all. The New York Times liked the concept. Navigadget hates it. I hated it, but the more I think about it the more I like it. About a year ago we did a video of how the iphone was the death of the PND and the concept here is similar. The iPad's size and a few other details aren't perfect but many people will find a way to mount these in their car. Why? Love it? Hate it? Let's get the debate rolling on the mp3Car forums. Some key pieces of technology and features contained in the iPad are leapfrogging features currently available in the car:


    A GPS: (Assisted GPS) From the specs, the GPS looks great on the GSM models but it is hard to know until we test it. If it is as good as the iphone we have a winner. AGPS should be an improvement over the location technology in the majority of navigation devices. GPS accuracy and speed to a location fix is dramatically improved by quickly sensing the wifi and cellular towers nearby. This gives the user an approximate location until the GPS can lock you down to within a few feet.

    Connected features built in: Traffic, Real time Map updates, weather, gas prices, streaming entertainment, others.

    Enhanced voice recognition: I have been amazed at the accuracy of voice recognition on the iphone, specifically using built in voice recognition as well as third party applications like Dragon. A great microphone and a decent CPU are two critical elements to good voice recognition. The Ipad has about twice the CPU power of the iphone and most likely one of Apple's high quality microphones.

    Multipurpose device: Apple does a good job explaining the multiple uses outside of the car

    Touch Screen: How many times have you fought with an inferior touch screen on your factory navigation, Car Computer or PND? Why are these touch screens so poor? There are several reasons:
    • Most nav devices use cheap resistive touch screens. Those that use capacitive screens use low quality versions or don't have the software to match the screen type.
    • For after market devices, there is tremendous pressure to keep the total product cost low due to profit margins in the distribution chain.
    • For factory navigation, auto manufacturers are forced to start planning their products years in advance before newer technology is released.
    • Designers are also heavily limited in their materials and technology selection due to the consumer expectation that your in car nav device work for a decade or more in extreme environments with a very low failure rate.
    • Touch screen for car computers are also slightly behind the times due to the lack of market demand.
    • The bottom line is that new cars rolling off the lot have yesterday's technology.

    Larger screen: Since I am hitting the ripe old age of 30, my eyes aren't what they used to be. Even for you young wiper snappers, you should be able to read your device out of peripheral vision. A larger screen will help us stay focused on the road by limiting squinting to get us the data we need.

    Sunlight readability: There is a good chance the iPad will be sunlight readable, and we will find out on April 3rd.

    In Car mounting & Docking: The cables to make an ipad connect to your car radio are readily available. The key to making this feasible is a proper universal docking solution that is driver friendly. I have an e-mail into some docking station vendors to see if anything is on the horizon.

    Updated 03-18-2010 at 09:25 AM by optikalefx

    Categories
    Products and Technology
  2. mp3Car now Smart Phone Friendly

    by , 03-10-2010 at 01:42 PM
    At long last mp3Car.com is now iPhone and smart phone ready.

    What does this mean?
    Our homepage will flow to fit smaller screens for better viewing. Also, all of our videos* are viewable on the iPhone. Your mobile device may also support the videos as well, they are mp4 640x360 at about 1mbps bit rate. with 44khz AAC.

    The forum itself has not changed, but we have future plans in place to make an optimized mobile interface for your mobile posting pleasures.

    *Older vimeo videos are not viewable without flash...Yet.

    Updated 03-10-2010 at 01:46 PM by optikalefx

    Categories
    mp3Car News
  3. USB Powered Touch Monitor by MIMO, 720-S

    by , 03-03-2010 at 04:45 PM

    Embed this video

    MIMO uses DisplayLink technology to make the 720-S, a 7 inch monitor that has 3 uses for the single USB cable. It gets power over USB, video over USB, and touch input over USB. There are many possible uses for this kind of monitor where any program that has multiple windows, could be spread out to this extra monitor.

    Updated 03-04-2010 at 09:42 AM by optikalefx

    Categories
    Products and Technology
  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. Get 10% off In February* Now At The mp3Car Store

    by , 02-05-2010 at 10:21 AM

    Get 10% off in February* Offer Extended! Good until February 28, 2010


    *Save $30 off orders above $300. Use coupon code "PROMO$30" upon checkout. Expires February 28, 2010.

    Updated 02-24-2010 at 12:18 PM by Jensen2000

    Categories
    Store Sales