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  1. CES is just around the corner...

    by , 12-13-2012 at 02:06 PM

    Everyone's favorite resident reviewer here with a reminder that the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show is January 8-11th, just a few short weeks away! As always, mp3Car will be present and accounted for during all the shows events.

    As the tradition stands, we want your feedback on what to look forward to at the show. What gizmos, gadgets, and do-dads does the community have interest in? If you won't be in attendance this year, what can we showoff that you've been waiting for? Let's hear your thoughts!

    Updated 12-19-2012 at 07:57 AM by Sonicxtacy02

    Categories
    Product Reviews , Technology Events
  2. Hardware Review: CustomGadz X2 Module for Android

    by , 09-23-2012 at 01:55 PM

    What is it?

    The CustomGadz X2 Module meshes the smartphone to the car PC, allowing for user-friendly control of an Android-powered car PC through a larger touchscreen monitor.

    The Verdict:

    The CustomGadz X2 Module is the ultimate way to make your smartphone your everyday car PC. Simply plugging in an HDMI cable from your phone to a monitor transforms your vehicle into an Android-powered experience.



    Description:

    The world of do-it-yourself in-car entertainment has recently seen a paradigm shift. The days of finding a space for a typical mITX motherboard and power supply are seemingly being phased out. Instead, more and more individuals are creating ways to install different forms of low cost, power sipping computing solutions. The most popular of these options going into automobiles these days are the Android powered tablet displays. The benefit of an entertainment setup such as this is easy to see at the surface. You get an instantly-on operating environment that is tailored specifically for touch screen usage. Most of the worries of destroying car batteries are a thing of the past, and a tablet device of any quality is going to have a display which is capable of viewing in all levels of sunlight.

    The challenge when dealing with this form of car PC is installation, particularly for a person who has already dipped into a car PC installation in the past. The very nature of a sleek, slim mobile device which essentially does it all can be quite the chore to wedge into a modern automobile console. Every tablet comes in its own shape and size, making a car friendly docking solution somewhat unachievable. So with these issues raised, what solution does an individual have when craving Android but cringing at the thought of taking an expensive tablet and hacking away to make it work in a dash?


    Enter the CustomGadz X2 Module. Based closely on the Mimics iPhone module, the X2 eases installation hassles by allowing Android control through dash-friendly 7 touchscreen display. The brain of an X2 operated car PC is your HDMI-capable smartphone. Once configured, the X2 Android module allows users to control their smartphone from a dash installed touchscreen. The X2 plugs into the touchscreen ribbon cable found in the screen housing, and uses Bluetooth technology to translate those presses to the smartphone. With X2 module installed, having a car PC is as simple as plugging the HDMI cable from your smartphone to your touchscreen monitor.


    The X2 is essentially the link that allows users to experience the same friendly user interface whether in or out of the vehicle. Other obvious benefits are the available mobile data connection, and the amazing capabilities of built-in Android applications. Users get Google music, navigation, and voice control. These are applications that car PC users have been searching long and hard for when installing Windows-based solutions. Users also get a system that is entirely portable, and easily powered, as the X2 only requires a 5v signal and your Android can be powered with an everyday automotive charge cable.


    As one can imagine, the many flavors of Android demands some configuration before the X2 becomes a perfect option. Quite honestly, configuration was somewhat confusing, especially having tested on the base X2 module with the adapter for my 4-wire Lilliput touchscreen. Essentially, configuration requires connecting the device to a PC running custom terminal program. Users must also connect an external button and LED light (neither are included with the base X2 package) and enter button presses to correspond to the commands the application dictates. Once configured, the X2 module must then be calibrated through the combination of a downloadable Android app and another combination of button presses and led flashes. While a tad bit tedious, the entire process is well documented in the installation manual.


    The other obvious drawback to the current version of the X2 Android device is the compatibility is limited in both touchscreen monitors and Android smartphones. Be sure to check the device compatibility list before purchasing. Ultimately, the X2 Android device allows a new group of car PC user, those who don't want to fabricate and destroy dashboards to achieve all the things a car PC can be.

    The Positive:

    Allows instant control of your smartphone through a larger display
    Instant control response, no delay after presses
    Auto-power on/off
    Touchscreen presses are mirrored from both touchscreen and smartphone
    Included software walks you through touchscreen calibration
    Easy to power


    The Negative:

    Configuration and calibration are a chore
    Limited compatibility with Android smartphones
    Multi-Touch capabilities of android aren't available on most touchscreen monitors
    Base module does not include required adapters and add-ons

    The Verdict:

    The CustomGadz X2 Module is the ultimate way to make your smartphone your everyday car PC. Simply plugging in an HDMI cable from your phone to a monitor transforms your vehicle into an Android-powered experience.

    For more on the process of calibrating the X2 module with your touchscreen check out this video.

    Updated 09-23-2012 at 07:41 PM by Sonicxtacy02

    Categories
    Product Reviews
  3. Car Computer Install: Backup Camera Installation

    by , 06-06-2012 at 02:59 PM

    Embed this video


    Sean shows us how to install a backup camera with a Lilliput monitor pre-wired for backup camera connectivity. These special Lilliput monitors have a wire (usually green in color) that extrudes from the back of the circuit board. When this wire receives +12V, the monitor automatically switches from your PC input to AV2, where your camera is connected. So, if you connect this wire to your backup lights and your camera to AV2, when you shift into reverse, the display will switch to your camera input.
  4. GPS Review: Comparing the BU-353 with the new BU-353 S4 edition

    by , 06-01-2012 at 12:57 PM

    Looking for a new USB GPS device for your car PC installation? Check out this video on the latest entry from USGlobalSat, the BU-353 S4 and see how it compares to the forum favorite, BU-353.
    Categories
    Product Reviews
  5. Car Computer Install: Noise In The System

    by , 04-12-2012 at 01:10 PM

    Embed this video


    Sean discusses problems with noise in the system and ways to eliminate them.