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Good time to buy carputer components?

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  • Good time to buy carputer components?

    I'm a long-time lurker (first registered Oct 2001) on this board, but I haven't actually done anything carputer-related yet. The main reason is that I would want such a big project (in terms of dollars and time) to last for several years. I didn't see carputer technology as "mature" yet, and I don't plan on keeping my current car ('95 Accord EX 4dr) more than another year or two.

    The question of what car to replace the Accord with is obviously not one for this forum. The question of whether carputer tech is mature certainly is.

    Most people buy technology either a) when they want it, or b) when they need it. If I had an "a" personality, I would be broke. If I were a "b", I would never have any fun gadgets that aren't strictly necessary but enhance my life. Instead, I try to time my buying so that I get maximum use out of my gadgets, making sure that I will actually use them and they will stand the test of time.

    I could have built a carputer back in the day when they were dedicated mp3 players on expensive single-board-computers (SBCs) with tiny (sometimes backlit!) character-based LCD screens. But it would have been quite expensive in terms of money and time, and boy would I feel the need to upgrade now.

    Which brings me to my question: if I were to put together a nice carputer now, would I want to make major modifications to it within the next couple of years?

    Here's my analysis of the different technologies involved and how they may change:

    Screens - 7" VGA touchscreens are a HUGE step up from character-based LCDs. As I see it, the only thing they'll do in the next couple of years is gain in brightness, contrast, and resolution (and, of course, decreasing in cost).

    Power - Opus solutions are expensive, but should last a long time. I don't anticipate much of a rise in power needs for basic carputer features (music, movies, GPS, networking, etc.).

    Processors - will constantly change, but the big leap in processing-power-per-watt seems to have been made with the C3 series. I foresee no must-have features that would require more processing power.

    Storage - will get bigger and cheaper, but new codecs will mean that an old hard drive can still hold tons of music and a couple of movies (enough for me!)

    Peripherals - GPS isn't too likely to require huge changes until they send up the next generation of satellites. Wireless networking will continue to evolve, but will probably retain backwards-compatibility with 802.11b since it's so popular. Input devices seem pretty mature with touchscreens and tiny keyboards. ODBII stuff is car-specific.

    Software - will get better and better, retaining its compatibility.

    Seems to me like now is a pretty good time to start buying some of this stuff. What do you think?

  • #2
    Agreed, I'm going to start soon myself. The combination of the 7" vga with the rising maturity of the EPIA motherboards has me convinced. Plus I need a new project.

    S

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    • #3
      *bump*

      Any comment on this? I'm curious where other people think carputer technologies are going. I know a lot of you are constantly upgrading with the "latest and greatest," but I'd rather not play that game.

      Now that we've got XP in the car, it seems to me that the next step is improving software and ease-of-use. ME 2.0 seems like it will be a big step forward.

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      • #4
        good post.

        the only thing im kinda holding out for is lower prices on LCDs, cheaper low-power processors, and possibly a 200+ watt opus type unit.

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        • #5
          I'm waiting for a 220w opus and to take apart my dash and see if I can shove a mATX board in there.
          PowerVoice v1 | NaviVoice Source
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          SKINbedder v3

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          • #6
            Power is the limit to most setup.
            If you want the setup to last for the next couple years, the power supply must support today hardwares and stuff.
            2004 Matrix XR A7N8X-VM/400 AMD XP-M 2500+, DS-ATX
            89 Supra Turbo P3 [email protected]/Abit BE6 II, Alpine M-BUS Car2PC.
            Y2K Accord Dell GX150
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            • #7
              I'm pretty sure you'll see the 1DIN units with FM/TV, amplifier, display and keypad on a faceplate for ~$450 in about 6 months.
              2DINs with motorized VGA touchscreen with the same above + HDD ~$1000.
              Car pc integration with ease
              Car mediacenter

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              • #8
                Originally posted by jbors
                I'm pretty sure you'll see the 1DIN units with FM/TV, amplifier, display and keypad on a faceplate for ~$450 in about 6 months.
                2DINs with motorized VGA touchscreen with the same above + HDD ~$1000.
                ye we'll see. you gonna bring it out?

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                • #9
                  syndromous

                  Instead, I try to time my buying so that I get maximum use out of my gadgets, making sure that I will actually use them and they will stand the test of time.
                  i thought along these lines once, when it came to buying electronics such as digi-cams etc, but what i realised was, if the current technology is within my budget, and it serves my needs, and the majority of my wants, then "now is the time" to buy it. If you keep waiting and waiting, you'll have spent all this time without it, whereas other people have had many years of use out of their items. Take my first digi-cam, its a 1.3MegaPixel sony, i got it at a great price, it served my needs for several years, but looking at today, who in their right mind would want a 1.3MP digicam bigger than a shoe? but, i have taken alot of photo's since i bought it (yes, i have upgraded, lol) if i had've waited, i would have missed two years worth of photo opportunities without my good old 1.3MP camera.

                  Same with PC technology, sure, you can keep waiting and waiting, but while you wait, you dont get to enjoy what you may one day have. In another two years, PC technology will be even better, but be stuffed if i'll miss out on 2 years worth of voice nav and movies in my car....

                  if it serves your needs now, is in budget, and does most of what you want it too, now is the time to buy, if it doesnt, then wait, and if you wait more than 2 years, you really didnt need it in the first place.
                  Hilux Surf (4runner) install
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cat Monkey
                    ye we'll see. you gonna bring it out?
                    Which one would you buy ?
                    Car pc integration with ease
                    Car mediacenter

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Linus
                      ...Seems to me like now is a pretty good time to start buying some of this stuff. What do you think?
                      this is like the grand old idea that is like chasing your own tail. hence the saying "should i buy now while i can still afford, or just wait until the better version arrive". if you just wait untill a better technology than the present arrive you will never gon'na get any. there is no such thing as the grand final technology. people will always strive to find better ways to enhance creativity and life. this is what makes our species unique.

                      when i first joined the car/pc bandwagon i had a 486 with dos and a keypad for control. i could'nt even afford a keypad during that time that i had to hack an old keyboard to make a keypad.. i mean com'mon this is the original idea of the "computer in a car" thing... to do something no other people around you has ever done, to make something out of an ordinary, to explore, to wonder, to learn. my first 486 carputer project will never match carputers nowaday, but the feeling i had during that time when i first successfully fired up my mp3car for the first time and drove out of the carpark and into the our local streets, and i begin to wonder "wow, i got something in my car that i had built that no one within the radius of a hundred or even thousands ever had." that experience definitely opened the door for me.

                      ask "mastero" how he felt when he first fired up his own version of the "sproggy dc-dc psu" and he'll tell you the same thing. nowadays you don't even have to be a comp. guru, you can now buy stuff and just connect them. it's only up to the person how far you wanted to go.

                      so if you'll ask me the best time to buy is yesterday. this is what i have learned from my years of experience in IT. get the best technology you can afford, and stick with it.


                      danon
                      [....99.9%]
                      [HW] 566eMHz/128mb/6gb, FlyVideo3k, RandMgps, M1-ATX, 7" Lilliput, VGA2AVadptrFor2ndVideo, 4CH/100rms, 10"Sub, 40AhDeepCycleTank
                      [....99.8%]
                      [SW] XP/MMC/FP:D3,FlyTV/AxifeFM,CarMM?
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by danon
                        so if you'll ask me the best time to buy is yesterday. this is what i have learned from my years of experience in IT. get the best technology you can afford, and stick with it.
                        Unless you are talking about Intel processors. Some have huge markups just because nobody else has them, take for example the 3ghz chips when they came out. Those things cost in the ballpark of $600, and now they are under $250!! Also the latest and greatest technology will not run well in a car.. the newest P4s produce around 100w, in other words, you'll be hearing the fans instead of the music.
                        PowerVoice v1 | NaviVoice Source
                        GammaControl v2.4
                        SKINbedder v3

                        1995 Lexus SC300

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 0l33l
                          Unless you are talking about Intel processors. Some have huge markups just because nobody else has them, take for example the 3ghz chips when they came out. Those things cost in the ballpark of $600, and now they are under $250!! Also the latest and greatest technology will not run well in a car.. the newest P4s produce around 100w, in other words, you'll be hearing the fans instead of the music.
                          very true buddy, the only problem is that we don't have crystal balls that can predict the future so what we usually do is to weight everything and just bite the bullet. you will always have problems one way or the other two similar computer with the same model will not run the same speed, the other one will run slightly faster or slower than the other, dvd players that has just been mass produced by a known company will have one or two models to be faulty. this is technology, there is no guarantee, and that is why they invented the thing called warranty.

                          danon
                          [....99.9%]
                          [HW] 566eMHz/128mb/6gb, FlyVideo3k, RandMgps, M1-ATX, 7" Lilliput, VGA2AVadptrFor2ndVideo, 4CH/100rms, 10"Sub, 40AhDeepCycleTank
                          [....99.8%]
                          [SW] XP/MMC/FP:D3,FlyTV/AxifeFM,CarMM?
                          [Working on] puttingBackEvrythg.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by danon
                            very true buddy, the only problem is that we don't have crystal balls that can predict the future so what we usually do is to weight everything and just bite the bullet. you will always have problems one way or the other two similar computer with the same model will not run the same speed, the other one will run slightly faster or slower than the other, dvd players that has just been mass produced by a known company will have one or two models to be faulty. this is technology, there is no guarantee, and that is why they invented the thing called warranty.
                            We do have manufacturer's roadmaps
                            But the rule of thumb is that newer technlologies will cost alot, are not always tested as they should (read: intel chipsets), and will probably run hot/consume a lot of power. So yeh, you have to carefully research all the components and just dive right in. I'm gonna be building my carputer in "peices". Basically I got stuff that doesn't change often (my GPS receiver, a USB Earthmate). Then I'm gonna get a Xenarc because its gonna take forever for me to mold into my dash, and then I'm gonna get an Opus 220w (that's probably going to be out by the time I'm on that step), and then everything else
                            PowerVoice v1 | NaviVoice Source
                            GammaControl v2.4
                            SKINbedder v3

                            1995 Lexus SC300

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 0l33l
                              ... Also the latest and greatest technology will not run well in a car.. the newest P4s produce around 100w, in other words, you'll be hearing the fans instead of the music.
                              hey thanks for the info btw, that made me push to getting pentium-m.. works with the same speed but half the heat and power consumption, also works with micro-atx mobo very good for carputer setup.

                              mate, there's always a chance that "the latest and greatest technology will run well in a car.."


                              danon
                              [....99.9%]
                              [HW] 566eMHz/128mb/6gb, FlyVideo3k, RandMgps, M1-ATX, 7" Lilliput, VGA2AVadptrFor2ndVideo, 4CH/100rms, 10"Sub, 40AhDeepCycleTank
                              [....99.8%]
                              [SW] XP/MMC/FP:D3,FlyTV/AxifeFM,CarMM?
                              [Working on] puttingBackEvrythg.

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