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  1. Hardware Review: Rupel iVox102h HD SSD Driving Recorder

    by , 12-05-2011 at 03:34 PM



    What is it?

    Purchase the Rupel iVox iVox102h on the mp3Car Store here.

    The Rupel iVox is a high-definition audio/video recording device with built-in GPS, accelerometer, and rear camera support. Video is recorded for playback on an included 16GB USB solid-state drive.

    The Verdict:

    The Rupel iVox102h is a feature rich recording device with all the bells and whistles. It’s “install and forget” configuration as well as its high quality image capturing means the iVox102H is a very versatile device. It seems its creator has done an amazing job of incorporating a variety of sensor capabilities into a useful and intuitive device.



    What’s in the box?

    The iVox102H comes with the high-definition camera, a 16GB solid state USB drive, a windshield mount with GPS built in, a 6 meter cigarette lighter power plug, and a rear auxiliary camera. Wire looms are also generously thrown in.


    Description:

    In car, I talk, a lot. A lot of the things I say cannot be repeated in this blog post. In fact, I should probably invest in installing a swear jar somewhere in my mass of PC components and wiring. The Rupel iVox102H was the device that taught me this. That’s because this high quality audio/video capture device sees and hears all that’s going on during my daily commute. It does a clever job of recording what I see as a driver on the busy streets of the DC metropolitan area, all while (optionally) recording all audio that echoes throughout my travels.


    Installation for the device is only slightly more difficult than installing a portable GPS unit. The included base, which features a built-in GPS receiver, simply sticks to your front windshield or dashboard. It connects to the camera with a standard VESA mount and 3.5mm cable so that the GPS data can be written to the camera’s 16GB solid state hard drive, or optionally, a SD card. Next step in installation is to simply run the power line to your nearest 12volt cigarette lighter port. Then optionally the camera will take a 3.5mm audio/video out and yet another 3.5mm jack for the included auxiliary rear camera.


    Once installed, the iVox102H powers on when power is supplied through the cigarette lighter port upon ignition, and powers down shortly after the vehicle is turned off. Optionally, you can connect the device to an always-on 12volt source and record 24/7, though, as always applies in the car, this will only work if you maintain 12volts or more at the battery.


    Shortly after powering on, the camera will automatically begin recording, emitting a simple “recording started” phrase which is elegantly created. This is the “normal” mode for recording. A secondary “event” recording mode is automatically created based on the built-in accelerometer crossing a preset threshold. In this automatic mode, the iVox102H will recapture the prior 15 seconds before the event, and continue recording the preceding 5 minutes after the event before returning to normal mode again. The idea behind event mode is that the moments that need to be captured are captured without the default 30 second splitting the camera saves the files at during the default setting.


    While the iVox is declared as an “HD” capable device, the reality is at its highest setting the primary camera records at 3-megapixels. The video quality is still good enough to capture a license place or an occasional street sign. The rear camera is of lesser quality, but is good enough to use in parking scenarios, which is what the creators designed it for.


    The iVox102h comes with a Rupel Viewer application which allows the video files created by the capture device to be displayed with metadata in tow. The app will show you your calculated speed, latitude, longitude, and built-in accelerometer values in a nice graphical interface. You’re also presented a Google map window which will show your recorded travels. The application, while useful for configuring the camera for things like quality, time format, and distance display, requires a very large resolution display (no car PC will display it), and doesn’t genuinely do anything special. All metadata is shown embedded on the video replay, so users are welcome to simply use they’re own video application.


    The Positive:

    • High quality video capture without the need for a PC
    • Composite video output means you can connect the device to a PC if you wish
    • Quality imaging and audio pickup
    • Auto-power on/off
    • Captures GPS and accelerometer data and uses it for event detection
    • Included software gives you all the video information in a nice GUI
    • Two channels means you can record from two cameras


    The Negative:

    • Camera itself is somewhat large for windshield mounting
    • Can run into cable management problems if connecting all accessories
    • Included application requires a high resolution display to use.


    The Verdict:

    The Rupel iVox102h is a feature rich recording device with all the bells and whistles. It’s “install and forget” configuration as well as its high quality image capturing means the iVox102H is a very versatile device. It seems its creator has done an amazing job of incorporating a variety of sensor capabilities into a useful and intuitive device.

    Updated 12-29-2011 at 02:06 PM by Jensen2000

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    Product Reviews
  2. Hardware Review: Xenarc 700TSU USB Powered Touchscreen Monitor

    by , 10-13-2011 at 09:27 AM

    What is it?

    The Xenarc 700TSU is a USB controlled and powered 7-inch touchscreen monitor with optional composite support.

    The Verdict:

    The 700TSU takes a pretty large leap forward into making USB only touchscreen devices available to use as primary monitors. It maintains the rather stellar build quality of other Xenarc devices, while reducing the number of cables needed to operate the display. It's rather bulky when compared to other USB monitors, but with that size comes some pretty nice configuration options the segment has not yet seen.

    See the Xenarc 700TSU on the mp3Car Store here.



    What’s in the box?

    The Xenarc 700TSU comes packed with much more than most USB monitors include. There's the monitor, and a USB & composite (2 sets) cable for starters. Couple those with an optional 5v power brick, a cigarette lighter adapter, VESA mount, a full featured remote control, stylus pen, driver cd, and a host of operation manuals.


    Description:

    If you are a regular reader of the product review section, you may have noticed an abundance of reviews and videos regarding touchscreens recently. This is a great thing for the community, as newer touchscreens seem to come out regularly with better brightness, sunlight readability, cabling and power options. As a whole, we've seen a pretty dramatic evolution of these devices, and the Xenarc 700TSU attempts to keep true to that idea.

    The initial concept we've seen before. The 700TSU is a 7-inch touchscreen monitor which can be powered and controlled solely by USB. This means instead of having to poke around for VGA, or HDMI plugs, one (or occasionally two) USB ports instantly power up and display your PC through this unit. This technology is available by use of a special driver suite called DisplayLink, and the 700TSU uses the latest version of this driver to display a clear and crisp image whether what's displayed is static or in motion.


    This capability with DisplayLink in the 700TSU is the best I have personally seen. First generation devices left pictures dull and grainy, and made videos appear distorted and choppy. The 700TSU looks every bit as good as a VGA quality screen, and the controller for the 700TSU actually allows resolution options, again, a feat unseen in the USB segment before. Even at wide angles the 700TSU does an excellent job of providing a quality image.


    Instead of settling for this enhancement in the device, Xenarc took a larger step forward by incorporating two sets of composite connectors. This allows for an even larger array of devices that can be used with this screen. Instead of requiring one USB, the 700TSU allows you to run one of it's two auxiliary power options to the screen and display the composite device, sound included. Xenarc was gracious enough to remember to include the auto-switch composite signalling, so that people who intend to install a backup camera still have that option available with the 700TSU.


    The only drawback to all of this flexibility is the fact that the Xenarc, when compared to the other USB touchscreens, is quite large. That's not to say that it is ridiculously large. In fact, appearance-wise it looks pretty much identical to the Xenarc 700TSV VGA monitor. Only when compared to competing products from Mimo and Lilliput does the 700TSU's girth stand out. Remember though that with those competing devices all you get is USB.


    The only other problem with the Xenarc 700TSU is an inherent problem with all USB touchscreens at this time. They all require the PC to be loaded with drivers to display. That means you get no BIOS, no windows loading notification, or anything until the DisplayLink drivers are up and running.

    The Positive:

    • High quality screen available with only a single USB connection
    • Composite connectors allow for various installations
    • Several different power options available
    • Auto-switch with composite connection included
    • Only USB touchscreen with a full configuration menu, brightness, contrast etc can all be set
    • Resolution options are available, a first in the segment


    The Negative:

    • Size of display is large compared to competing USB screens
    • That annoying wait for drivers to load before display works


    The Verdict:

    The 700TSU takes a pretty large leap forward into making USB only touchscreen devices available to use as primary monitors. It maintains the rather stellar build quality of other Xenarc devices, while reducing the number of cables needed to operate the display. It's rather bulky when compared to other USB monitors, but with that size comes some pretty nice configuration options the segment has not yet seen.

    For more specifications on the Xenarc 700TSU click here
    For a video comparing the Xenarc 700TSU with the other latest USB Touchscreens click here
    For more pictures of the 700TSU click here

  3. 7 Inch USB Touchscreen Showdown

    by , 10-06-2011 at 10:51 AM
    In this second series comparing the latest 7" touchscreens we have the Xenarc 700TSU, the Mimo 720f 2G, and the Lilliput UM70C/T USB connected monitors. Check out the video below to assist you in deciding if a USB touchscreen is right for you and which one should you currently consider.

  4. 2011 7 Inch Touchscreen Showdown

    by , 09-07-2011 at 03:02 PM
    New to the scene and searching through the latest in touch screen devices? Maybe looking to upgrade an aging display with something more modern and feature rich? Check out this video for a quick glimpse of the most recent 7" touchscreen devices and how they compare with each other.

  5. Hardware Review: Lilliput 659GL-70NP/C/T Surface Acoustic Wave Touchscreen Monitor

    by , 08-19-2011 at 02:53 PM

    What is it?

    The Lilliput 659 is a 7" touchscreen monitor which uses Surface Acoustic Wave technology for accurate and precise touchscreen operation.

    The Verdict:

    As beautiful as the display is on the Lilliput 659, it may not be the best bet for every installation. The physical dimensions of the screens bezel and other components means you may very well need more than double din space for adequate installation. If you do have the space needed, the 659 may just be your best bet as its brightness and color saturation is head and shoulders above other factory Lilliput devices to this point.

    See the Lilliput 669HB on the mp3Car Store here.



    What’s in the box?

    As always with Lilliput monitors, everything is included with one minor omission. Connection options include an HDMI to HDMI/USB cable, DVI to HDMI/USB cable, and VGA/Composite cable with sub-connector. Included power options are a 12v cigarette lighter plug and brick-style home power connector. Also included are remote, driver CD, and desk stand. The one omission is the stylus that's typically built into the bezel of the monitor.


    Description:

    The Car PC market has been fed a steady diet of touchscreen options in the last several months. Not only have the major brands like Lilliput and Xenarc done more with their existing product line, the hobby has seen new companies start to promote new products. Though there are many slight differences on specifications between product lines, when it boils down to it, most devices use the same basic screen technology. In the 659GL, Lilliput has changed the game. The 659 uses a different type of touchscreen technology, creatively named "surface acoustic wave" (SAW). This technology isn't new by any means, but this is the first iteration we've seen in the 7-inch touchscreen genre. Surface acoustic wave touchscreens send ultrasonic waves constantly through the screen surface. When a user presses the screen, the wave is interrupted a touch event is sent to the controller for processing. Science aside, the surface wave technology in the Lilliput 659 allows for precise touchscreen presses, higher light transmission, and a sharper, more saturated image.


    Simply put, the image quality on the Lilliput 659 is fantastic. The colors are rich and images are sharp. Though the nit rating remains at 450, the light transmission the SAW touch panel allows makes the screen appear transflective. The glass is still glossy, but its mitigated by the amount of light it passes through. This benefit also allows for a extremely larger viewing radius when compared to resistive touchscreen devices.


    Equally as important to the display of the touchscreen is the response, and the Lilliput 659 comes through in this regard too. The SAW touchscreen is harder than the resistive variants, and this results in a surer button press. The Lilliput 659 eliminates the mushiness, giving users greater confidence in a press without needing the eyes fixated on the screen. I did note that it's harder to get a response on the outer 1/4 inch of the screen, but I'm not sure if this is a problem with my test unit or with all of the 659's.

    This small problem leads me to a larger gripe I have with the Lilliput 659. The bezel on this device when compared with any other 7" touchscreen available today is huge. Anyone looking to install this in a standard double din enclosure may encounter a problem getting it to fit. I'm not sure if the controller boards inside require the larger bezel, but its definitely something to take note of prior to hacking away at your dashboard. Check out my video comparing the bezel size with a Lilliput 669.



    The Positive:

    • Huge leap in image quality from the SAW touchscreen
    • HDMI, DVI, VGA, and Composite connections available
    • Accurate and satisfying touchscreen feedback
    • Auto-On still available (via factory menu)

    The Negative:

    • Bezel size may prohibit double din installation for some
    • Missing auto composite switch wire


    The Verdict:

    As beautiful as the display is on the Lilliput 659, it may not be the best bet for every installation. The physical dimensions of the screens bezel and other components means you may very well need more than double din space for adequate installation. If you do have the space needed, the 659 may just be your best bet as its brightness and color saturation is head and shoulders above other factory Lilliput devices to this point.

    For more specifications on the Lilliput 659 click here
    For more pictures of the Lilliput 659 click here

    Updated 08-19-2011 at 02:58 PM by Sonicxtacy02

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    Product Reviews