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Product Reviews

  1. Hardware Review: Intelmatic XF700 Industrial Sunlight Readable Touch Screen Monitor

    by , 12-26-2009 at 08:52 AM
    What is it?

    The Inelmatic XF700 is a 7” 16:9 high-brightness touch-screen monitor. This monitor has multiple output options, transflective technologies, and a unique and optimized form-factor.

    The Verdict:


    The Inelmatic XF700 is a well thought-out piece of automotive computing hardware. From the screen to the shell you can tell Inelmatic designed it for Car PC use. If it can survive the name-recognition of competing devices, I truly believe there is a new “best of class” in the 7” touch-screen market.

    See this product on the mp3Car Store here.

    What’s in the box?


    The XF700 comes with an instruction manual, VESA mount, an attachable stylus pointer, and a unique single-loom wire which includes connectors for power, USB, VGA input, composite input, S-Video input, rear camera input, and a current-sensing auto-switch wire.

    Description:


    The XF700 is the latest of the high-brightness touch-friendly monitors to hit the mobile computer scene. Upon opening the box and getting the monitor in my hands, I immediately noticed how solid the monitor feels. This indicates to me that the build quality should be stellar and that the XF700 could potentially be built to withstand the harsh automotive environments. Another improvement that immediately stood out is the single-wire design. There is only a single wire protruding from the back of the XF700. The wire is flexible, and sticks out of the rear of the unit, allowing for greater installation flexibility than most competitors offer. This wire then latches securely to its counterpart, which allows an array of connection methods. The XF700 offers VGA inputs, 2 sets of composite video inputs, 1 set of audio inputs, a separate rear camera input, and for even greater flexibility the manufacturer has included a single wire current-sensing switch wire. In fact, the only connection method that seems to be missing is DVI. Powering the device is more flexible than its competition as well, as the XF700 allows any power source from 9-30VDC. This removes the requirement of a stable 12v source.



    Of course, the most important feature of any touch-screen monitor is what’s on the screen, and XF700 shines through in this regard. The touch-screen is transflective and appears to shy away dust and fingerprints better than competing units. Installation of the touch-screen is plug-and-play, and the software which controls the touch-screen is the same as the Lilliput and Xenarc units. The high-brightness of the LCD provides a crisp and beautiful display even in direct sunlight. The 629 Lilliput in my car couldn’t come close to matching the brightness and image quality of the XF700.


    Even my “sunlight readable” Acer laptop doesn’t match the quality of the XF700 in the brightest conditions.


    The native resolution of the XF700 is 800x480, however it seems to handle 800x600 and even 1024x768 without much hassle. The display quality is the best I’ve seen to date within the 7” monitor market.


    The XF700 has several buttons on the front, which at first detract from the beauty of its design. However, I find the buttons work better in the car than those of the Lilliput and Xernarc devices. They sit flush on the frame of the monitor, and provide a very tactile “click” each time a button is pressed. The buttons do things like power the display, toggle the built-in 3-step gamma, and open up the on-screen menu. This menu allows far more customization than competing units.

    The Positive:


    • High-quality beautiful display even in direct sunlight
    • Installation-friendly wiring
    • Built-in rear camera support, with multiple auto-switch options
    • Easy to use 3 stage gamma
    • 500:1 contrast ratio
    • Native resolution of 800x480 • Auto-power on when VGA signal is detected
    • Flexible wiring options
    • Shock and vibration resistant for reliable car installations

    The Negative:


    • No DVI input
    • Still has the bright blue “No VGA” screen at upon powering the device
    • No remote control?

    The Verdict:


    The Inelmatic XF700 is a well thought-out piece of automotive computing hardware. From the screen to the shell you can tell Inelmatic designed it for Car PC use. If it can survive the name-recognition of competing devices, I truly believe there is a new “best of class” in the 7” touch-screen market.

    Specifications:

    Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Colors: 256k Native Resolution: 800x480px VGA Modes: 640x480 to 1024x768 Contrast: 500:1 Inputs: VGA, 2 x Composite Video Optional Audio: 2 x 1W (stereo) Touch Panel: Resistive 4 wires. Endurance >2M Touch. Optional 5 wires Power Supply: 9-30VDC automotive car/truck suitable Power Consumption: 6W Dimensions: 183x125x31mm Dimensions (screen): 152x94mm Enclosure: Aluminum chassis/rear. PVC-ABS front Operation Temperature: -20°C to 70°C Max (-10°C to 60°C continuous) Vibrations: 1G 2-500Hz Shock: 20G 11ms Drop: 10cm Max

    See this product on the mp3Car Store here.
  2. Hardware Review: BoomzBox HD AM/FM Radio

    by , 12-04-2009 at 12:15 PM

    The BoomzBox HD is a USB-controlled AM/FM HD-capable radio tuner.

    The Verdict:

    The BoomzBox HD is just what we’ve asked for in an AM/FM radio. With sound quality that rivals factory head units and an easy straight forward installation procedure, the BoomzBox HD should be your first choice for radio.

    Just released: Price will be $179 on the mp3Car Store soon. Release date still to be determined.



    What’s in the box?



    The BoomzBox HD comes with the tuner box, driver CD, a USB-driven controller box, an 8-pin DIN connector, USB cable, and two power adapters for ease of installation.

    Description:

    The BoomzBox HD is a fully RoHS compliant HD radio tuner built from the ground-up for car PC use. The tuner box is a bit smaller than similar devices on the market. It’s built with a solid aluminum casing to withstand automotive applications. The tuner box has just 3 connections, an antenna input port, a pass-through antenna output port, and the 8-pin interface connector.


    The companion device in the BoomzBox HD package is the converter box. This box converts the signal from the tuner box via the din cable, thus allowing audio to come straight from the USB cable. Competing devices require both a serial/USB connection and an audio output to be sent to the PC. The ease of installation is the highlight of the BoomzBox HD. Connect the DIN cable to the converter box, connect the USB to a PC, and connect power to the green power connector, and the BoomzBox is ready for software. The creators even went a step further by including 2 power options, a brick plug, and a bare connector ready for your unregulated 12v and ground wires.

    The driver CD includes drivers for windows XP/VISTA/7. It also includes a test application to put the BoomBox to use. The BoomzBox is fully compatible with the most popular front-ends like Centrafuse and RideRunner.

    The most important quality in a FM/AM tuner is the audio quality, and the BoomzBox matches the sound quality of units from Directed and Visteon. The HD channels sound as crisp and clear as you could ever want from radio. That being said, the BoomzBox has the issue of HD signals clipping in and out that most all HD radios have. If you can deal with that small issue, the BoomzBox HD is the standard for which future car PC radios will be judged.

    The Positive:

    • High-quality sound in standard and HD modes
    • Easiest HD radio to install on your computer
    • Audio over USB leaves your line-in open
    • Built specifically for car PC use

    The Negative:

    • HD signal clipping is still present
    • Missing the optional Head and remote other HD radios have

    The Verdict:

    The BoomzBox HD is just what we’ve asked for in an AM/FM radio. With sound quality that rivals factory head units and an easy straight forward installation procedure, the BoomzBox HD should be your first choice for radio.

    Specifications:

    Dimensions (Tuner): 12cm x 7.8cm x 3cm
    Dimensions (Converter): 6.5cm x 6.5cm x 3cm
    Inputs: Motorola Style antenna input
    Outputs: 1 x USB, 1 x antenna output
    Power Supply: Accepts 12v Unregulated
  3. Hardware Review: IEI 140W DC/DC Power Supply IDDV-6304140A

    by , 11-24-2009 at 01:30 PM


    The IDDV-6304140A is a 140-watt DC/DC Power Supply with intelligent power handling.

    The Verdict:

    The IDDV-6304140A is a solid competitor in a suddenly flourishing car PC power supply market. It attempts to add small and useful features to a tried and true form factor, and succeeds in powering a pretty power hungry setup effectively and efficiently.

    See this product on the mp3Car Store here.



    What’s in the box?


    The IDDV-6304140A comes neatly and securely packaged with the PSU, instruction manual, and cables for motherboard ON/OFF switch, external optional power switch, optional led and amplifier turn on delay.

    Description:

    The IDDV-6304140A is a fully RoHS compliant DC/DC ATX converter module capable of powering computer systems with up to a 140-watt demand. Right out of the box, the IDDV appears identical to other PSUs already on the market with its similar form factor to the M2 and GP83 devices. It does however come with some original and interesting features, most notably the ability to control the PSU with an infrared remote control. Simply connect GND, VCC, and IRRX to the board’s 3-pin connector and you can turn your car PC on/off with the push of a button. This feature overrides ignition on/off status, but it does not ignore the built in thermal and voltage sensing kill switches programmed into the unit. The IDDV promises to shut down any power when then temp range exceeds -20°C – 85°C or when battery voltage sensed is
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