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The Carputer is dead. -- Long live the Carputer!

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  • The Carputer is dead. -- Long live the Carputer!

    Hi mp3Car fanatics.

    I recently sold my Ford Escape after nearly 6 years of Carputing. It was a sad day handing over the keys last December, and now I am dealt with the very difficult question of starting from scratch in my new ride.

    IMHO, the landscape has changed quite dramatically with the advent of iOS, Android, and Ford Sync, and the reasons for PC-based carputing are less compelling.

    Point 1: Above all else (besides wow factor I suppose), on-board navigation is the primary purpose for a Carputer. Some folks here have done some amazing work over the years integrating PC-based navigation programs into a seamless touch-friendly frontend. Easy to use, rich in features, beautiful to look at, and it get's you where you need to go. However, the navigation experience has only ever been as good as the maps database it draws from. It seems to me, that the future is in the cloud-based, always-connected, always-updated model. You can't find a better database than Google Maps, and for my money (by that I mean free, of course) the interface is near impossible to beat especially when coupled with natural voice search.........{provided there's a data plan and coverage, of course}

    Point 2: I don't know if it's irony that I'm witnessing, shock, surprise, or disbelief. I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway when he returns to society and realizes how easy it is to light a flame using a zippo. I've been trying it the hard way for so long that it irks me, (especially, as I consider hacking into another brand new dashboard), that the one feature that has always eluded me, now comes standard (Ford Sync) to every schmuck who has no clue about patching widcomm drivers over the microsoft BT stack. For years I struggled with drivers, plugins, and programs, with several different types of noise canceling microphones and mounting positions. All I wanted was to answer or make calls using the interface and speak comfortably via speakerphone without removing the phone from my pocket. Is that so much to ask? But alas, despite my trying, I never achieved a simple bluetooth phone control method that just worked smoothly and reliably.

    So what's next for me? I don't think I'll be able to live with a pure stock setup. I don't think I will go back to Windows for my car. If I take the plunge again, I think I'll be looking to either install an android tablet in the dash, or I'll be waiting for an android equivalent of Mimics for iPhone... hopefully it will be wireless, enable auto connect, and allow multiple device-pairings. As for bluetooth speakerphone, that too is a mixed bag of indecision. I like that people can hear me with the stock equipment. I like that I can push a button on the steering wheel to initiate a voice command, but I hate the car's voice menu system and voice recognition. I wish Sync would allow a simple pass-through of my voice to the Google voice search app on my Evo.

    What I do know is that there will never be a perfect system out of the box, and we'll always rely on a dedicated group of users here at mp3car to write custom apps, widgets, utilities, front ends, and to create new hardware modules that solve popular problems. Maybe in 6 more years I'll be reflecting on how well my new flying car integrates (as standard equipment) the thought-based interface that will have eluded me for so long trying to make it work on my mobile-tablet-based carputer.

    Thanks for all the fun, so far.
    Last edited by Zoltan; 06-23-2011, 08:37 PM.
    '03 Escape 4WD:
    -iTox mini-itx mobo, Core 2 Duo Mobile 1.66Ghz; 2GB, 80GB 2.5" HD, DS-ATX
    -Transflective 8.4"
    -XM, iG4, OBD-II (BR-3)
    -Rearview camera with auto-switching (modified cheesbox)
    -Slim Slot DVD+RW
    -RR, DFX 4