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  1. Hardware Review: Xenarc 700TSU USB Powered Touchscreen Monitor

    by , 10-13-2011 at 10:27 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

  2. 7 Inch USB Touchscreen Showdown

    by , 10-06-2011 at 11:51 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.

  3. 2011 7 Inch Touchscreen Showdown

    by , 09-07-2011 at 04:02 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.

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

    by , 08-19-2011 at 03:53 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 03:58 PM by Sonicxtacy02

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  5. Hardware Review: Connect2Car Anywhere G2 vehicle security system

    by , 05-10-2011 at 05:54 PM

    What is it?

    The Connect2Car Anywhere G2 is a vehicle security device which allows control of your vehicle and its security systems from any internet-connected PC or mobile device.

    The Verdict:

    The Connect2Car Anywhere G2 is the ultimate add on device for access and controlling your automobile. With just a few taps on your tablet, laptop, or mobile device you have monitoring and control of your vehicles security systems. Provided you are "anywhere" the internet may roam and don't mind the cost of a subscription, the Connect2Car G2 offers the ultimate in convenience and security services no matter where you are.



    Description:

    We've all been there, a crowded mall parking garage with the sound of some cars' factory security system echoing throughout. And just as as everyone else in the general vicinity, we try our best to ignore it. A high-percentage of the time it's a false alarm right? "It's not my car".

    The one person that does care about it is the owner. Whether its the thieves that want to boost your Garmin or a pleasant elderly lady who tore into the front bumper, the owner ultimately cares. The problem with factory systems is unless you're there to hear the sirens blazing, you have no idea whats going on. With the Connect2Car G2 system you're always there. The first layer of the G2 system allows you to know exactly when things happen to your ride via alerts to your mobile device. It doesn't matter if you're a few stores away or a few states away, each alert will let you know of the event (doors opened, motion detected, outside of your custom "geo-fence") as well as the current location of the car. Using the Connect2Car G2 provides the ultimate piece of mind that factory alarm systems just don't provide.

    The second layer of the Connect2Car Anywhere G2 system is the access control. Again, through any internet connected device you can send commands to your vehicle. Laptop and tablet device users can simply log into their Connect2Car account and send commands via web browser. Blackberry users have the privilege of a dedicated application which allows all of the features of the Connect2Car G2 system to be accessed (see video for a look inside the blackberry app). Users of other mobile phone platforms can simply send text messages to a dedicated Connect2Car number. Commands range from simple ARM/DISARM & START/STOP which do as they suggest, to WHEREIS, which replies with a live map position of the car. There are also some advanced security commands which allow users to literally turn off the car and stop it dead in its tracks (this one was very fun to test), or even do it automatically with the use of the custom geo-fence system. All commands are always readily available by sending the MENU command for text users. Each command gets sent to the vehicle through a GSM-based antenna the Connect2Car G2 uses to communicate. While its definitely not as quick as tapping a button on your key fob, the commands all act within 10-15 seconds, and each command is confirmed via text message or through the application in the case of the blackberry.


    Now, the downside to all of this accessibility and convenience is the fact that the Connect2Car Anywhere G2 uses a subscription-based system which requires a monthly payment. There are a few payment levels based on the number of commands users are allotted. My personal advice is to get one of the higher plans (500 commands are more). It may seem like a lessor plan would suffice, but the Connect2Car system is designed so it replaces any key-less entry or factory security systems, so anytime you resort to using an alternative you're right back to the "beeeeeep beeeeep" age of vehicle security. Also, like many other high-end security systems, the Connect2Car Anywhere G2 requires professional installation. Now some our hobbyist here on mp3Car brush off that notion, just know that Connect2Car's support is absolutely top notch and more than willing to spend time troubleshooting and testing. If that doesn't get you where you wish to be with the system, there is also a nationwide database of Connect2Car G2 system installers.

    The Positive:

    • Easy access to my car from near anywhere I go
    • Absolute piece of mind security
    • Allows for remote engine start, window control
    • Not limited to the range of a standard key fob



    The Negative:

    • Requires a subscription
    • GSM connection is not available in all areas
    • Not as quick as just hitting the key fob for commands

    The Verdict:

    The Connect2Car Anywhere G2 is the ultimate add on device for access and controlling your automobile. With just a few taps on your tablet, laptop, or mobile device you have monitoring and control of your vehicles security systems. Provided you are "anywhere" the internet may roam and don't mind the cost of a subscription, the Connect2Car G2 offers the ultimate in convenience and security services no matter where you are.