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  • MP3Car CarPC State of the Union 2006

    Well, it's 2006. I've been a member of this board for several years now, and I'm still without a complete build. Several issues keep me from going all in. Putting an off-the-shelf computer with off-the-shelf parts sounds promising. Costs are relatively low, plus it uses known standards with nearly unlimited expandability. However, the equipment available to us hasn't really changed much in the last two years. Meanwhile, OEM equipment adds capabilities and features seamless integration without all the headache. I'm going to go through each component and some problems that still haven't been fully solved yet. I'm frustrated that years later, the same challenges exist.

    Displays - Aside from transreflective screens, there hasn't been much change in the LCD market for the past few years. Neither Lilliputs nor Xenarcs have improved their reliability. The forums are still full of people putting in a brand new screen only to find it nonfunctional after a few weeks. The screens are still 800x480, a nonstandard resolution that isn't supported well. Some aftermarket video cards support it, but if you have an all-in-one motherboard, you're still out of luck. It doesn't look like any manufacturer is going to make the switch to DVI soon, so we'll still be running an analog signal to the monitors. Not that we really need a digital signal on such low resolutions, but I'm thinking it would make 1:1 pixel mapping and scaling easier. The 800x480 problem may also disappear with EDID support.

    Power Supplies - This is an area that's actually seen some improvement. We have options between Opus and Carnetix, and even options for Mac. Still pricey, and reliability still leaves something to be desired. Auto On, hibernate, and standby options exist so that instant-on is something can be easily achieved.

    Operating System - This is a huge handicap. XP users suffer from horrible zooming and resizing support. Changing fonts or icon sizes is a nightmare. You only get a few choices and they all look like crap. OSX resizes and scales better, but there's still only modest support for front ends (oh, and sometimes MacOS doesn't seem to like 800x480 monitors). Linux suffers from limited driver support, although I've seen some good implementations.

    Audio - If you're using an aftermarket receiver to amplify the sound coming from your PC, having a few ground loops is almost a given. If you're using a pure CarPC solution and running the audio signal from PC to an amplifier, you'll problably avoid the ground loop problem, but you'll sacrifice some flexibility.

    GPS - The OEM's (particularly Toyota and Honda) have great GPS implementations, while CarPC options haven't improved much.

    Well, I'm done with my rant. I realize that there are those who have completed a fully-realized CarPC, but it seems like they're in the minority (Oh, and I'm jealous). Most everybody else has to live with a less-than-perfect solution and have learned to make some compromises. That may be running 800x600 on a 800x480 native screen, putting up with minor ground loop noise, or waiting forever for the computer to boot when starting the car. I was just expecting more nearly 3 years after finding this forum. I didn't want to spend over $1000 only to come up short somehow. Upcoming OEM products feature almost everything we're looking for (GPS, MP3, DVD, Traffic), and non-PC aftermarket products are quickly improving as well. There's still a gap between a non-PC solution and a CarPC, plus a CarPC still features more flexibility. I'm still holding out hope for an ideal CarPC solution.
    2006 Rav4 + iPod, still CarPCless

  • #2
    All in all the shortcomings are better than not having one at all and
    you still have something not a lot of people have without spending
    even more money
    "A rose by any other name is still a flower"

    Comment


    • #3
      yea i love my carputer.
      i only spent like 100-300 and if i had dropped a 1g into it it would be perfect.

      (only issuse i have right now it is makes a lil bit of noise, cpu fan,ps fan,convert fan).

      http://cgi.ebay.com/Litton-MobileVu-...em320034817794
      $200
      core duo + motherboard
      $200
      gps
      $75

      http://www.provantage.com/antec-phantom~7ANTS01P.htm +ac/dc converter.
      $175
      or
      OPUS 150 watt
      175.

      so thats like 650.
      now u got 350 to spend on everything else.

      nlite windows for quicker, you wont need to resize anything with the 10.4.
      10.4 is daylight readable,core duo is alot of power with low draw,ac/dc way allows you to add whatever power hungery things yo want.

      even the people that have to compromise with an issue with their carputer i think are much better off then having to compromise with an aftermarket system that keeps you limited.

      but really its about what you want.

      so far there is no product that does mp3,gps,movies,traffic,car interface,wireless internet,gaming. and if there was i wouldnt shell out the 5g it would cost me.
      haha

      ok their is my lil rant.
      Core duo
      1tb harddrive
      256 ddr
      8 lilliput
      bu-353

      still installing...

      Comment


      • #4
        The 10.4" is a little too big for most car dashes unless you want to do some hard core fabrication, but it's a good solution for those that have the space.
        2006 Rav4 + iPod, still CarPCless

        Comment


        • #5
          Dont we all drive big cars in America???
          haha
          Core duo
          1tb harddrive
          256 ddr
          8 lilliput
          bu-353

          still installing...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SwapMeet View Post
            Well, I'm done with my rant. I realize that there are those who have completed a fully-realized CarPC, but it seems like they're in the minority (Oh, and I'm jealous). Most everybody else has to live with a less-than-perfect solution and have learned to make some compromises. That may be running 800x600 on a 800x480 native screen, putting up with minor ground loop noise, or waiting forever for the computer to boot when starting the car. I was just expecting more nearly 3 years after finding this forum. I didn't want to spend over $1000 only to come up short somehow. Upcoming OEM products feature almost everything we're looking for (GPS, MP3, DVD, Traffic), and non-PC aftermarket products are quickly improving as well. There's still a gap between a non-PC solution and a CarPC, plus a CarPC still features more flexibility. I'm still holding out hope for an ideal CarPC solution.
            Nothing is ever perfect and there's no such thing as an ideal solution. Like everything else computer-related, you can wait forever for someone to build your ideal carPC or you can build your own. That's kind of the idea of this hobby. I think your statement that the people who have built a satisfactory working carPC being in the minority is just wrong. Take a look at the Show Off forum.

            I don't mean to sound nasty, and I hope you don't take offense, but if you haven't been able to build yourself a carPC that makes you happy out of all the tons of components available, after trying for several years, then maybe it's time to move on and find another hobby.
            *******************************
            *******************************

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pathos View Post
              All in all the shortcomings are better than not having one at all and
              you still have something not a lot of people have without spending
              even more money
              That's my niqqa. gr8 answer. that is the exact reason why I am using a tablet laptop in my car rather than HAVING NOTHING. sure there are shortcomings, but it comes with the territory. If the OS is that much of an issue, and all you want to do is play music, then i feel you're the type of person that doesnt need a carputer. I would think even if you did have one setup, you would be complaining more than using it which doesnt make sense. It's like having dessert then complaining that it's too sweet.... DUH!

              Just pick something, install it and use it. No need to let this run on for years. life is too short.
              - sh00k
              Duct tape and a Bandana for the win, b!shes!!!

              My Setup:http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=73500

              Cost so far: Less than a grand ;]



              _________________
              Economy/Commuter cars + Computers = many entertained miles

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by SwapMeet View Post
                Well, it's 2006. I've been a member of this board for several years now, and I'm still without a complete build. Several issues keep me from going all in. Putting an off-the-shelf computer with off-the-shelf parts sounds promising. Costs are relatively low, plus it uses known standards with nearly unlimited expandability. However, the equipment available to us hasn't really changed much in the last two years. Meanwhile, OEM equipment adds capabilities and features seamless integration without all the headache. I'm going to go through each component and some problems that still haven't been fully solved yet. I'm frustrated that years later, the same challenges exist.

                Displays - Aside from transreflective screens, there hasn't been much change in the LCD market for the past few years. Neither Lilliputs nor Xenarcs have improved their reliability. The forums are still full of people putting in a brand new screen only to find it nonfunctional after a few weeks. The screens are still 800x480, a nonstandard resolution that isn't supported well. Some aftermarket video cards support it, but if you have an all-in-one motherboard, you're still out of luck. It doesn't look like any manufacturer is going to make the switch to DVI soon, so we'll still be running an analog signal to the monitors. Not that we really need a digital signal on such low resolutions, but I'm thinking it would make 1:1 pixel mapping and scaling easier. The 800x480 problem may also disappear with EDID support.

                Power Supplies - This is an area that's actually seen some improvement. We have options between Opus and Carnetix, and even options for Mac. Still pricey, and reliability still leaves something to be desired. Auto On, hibernate, and standby options exist so that instant-on is something can be easily achieved.

                Operating System - This is a huge handicap. XP users suffer from horrible zooming and resizing support. Changing fonts or icon sizes is a nightmare. You only get a few choices and they all look like crap. OSX resizes and scales better, but there's still only modest support for front ends (oh, and sometimes MacOS doesn't seem to like 800x480 monitors). Linux suffers from limited driver support, although I've seen some good implementations.

                Audio - If you're using an aftermarket receiver to amplify the sound coming from your PC, having a few ground loops is almost a given. If you're using a pure CarPC solution and running the audio signal from PC to an amplifier, you'll problably avoid the ground loop problem, but you'll sacrifice some flexibility.

                GPS - The OEM's (particularly Toyota and Honda) have great GPS implementations, while CarPC options haven't improved much.

                Well, I'm done with my rant. I realize that there are those who have completed a fully-realized CarPC, but it seems like they're in the minority (Oh, and I'm jealous). Most everybody else has to live with a less-than-perfect solution and have learned to make some compromises. That may be running 800x600 on a 800x480 native screen, putting up with minor ground loop noise, or waiting forever for the computer to boot when starting the car. I was just expecting more nearly 3 years after finding this forum. I didn't want to spend over $1000 only to come up short somehow. Upcoming OEM products feature almost everything we're looking for (GPS, MP3, DVD, Traffic), and non-PC aftermarket products are quickly improving as well. There's still a gap between a non-PC solution and a CarPC, plus a CarPC still features more flexibility. I'm still holding out hope for an ideal CarPC solution.
                you want to know why? everyone wants the new products, then they complain about the new product prices.

                As a company, if you were to see that, would you be interested in putting the money into the R&D to develop a new product?

                The public needs to learn that things aren't free. To get the quality you want you have to pay for it.

                We can think places like wallyworld and ebay for this mentality.

                every market goes through stagnation at some point or another, and guess what, it's cyclical. It will happen over and over and over as long as a particaulr market exists. It's the nature of the beast.

                You complain about screens not working, I've run 3 differen screens, all Xenarcs, and all worked flawlessly while I had them. only when I sold the previous two and someone didn't know what they were doing or wanted to mess with the screen did they not work.

                PSUs, market demands determine pricing, as does avaliability and production numbers. I ask you this, what are you basing your expensive comments on? The price of desktop PSUs? Do you really think that's a fair comparison?

                Re displays, look at the size of this market, then look at the size of other display markets. This is a speck of dust on the map. The fact that we actually have transflective displays now is amazing. Why did it happen? because users were actively looking for better solutions and trying them out, rather than just waiting around for them to come to live and in the mean time, complaining that they don't exist.

                Operating systems - what? you know how to write an entirely new operating system? have at it, let us know when you're done.

                front ends lacking? I agree, but you know what, THEY ARE ALSO FREE for the most part. the one's that do work quite well that you pay for, I bet you would also complain about them costing too much?

                Audio - ground loops are not something you should settle with. Consider this, the VAST majority of the people installing these things in their cars know little to nothing about car audio. having ground loops then is to be expected. If you want it flawless, pay someone who knows car audio to install it, but then again, I bet you would complain about the cost, right? so then, take the time to research how to do it right.

                GPS - so you're complaining that someone hasn't come out and designed a GPS solution SPECIFICALLY for the Car PC maraket? do you really think that this market is THAT big that a company can justify spending all the time on development and research JUST for a fraction of the individuals who have PCs in their cars? iGuidance has taken a huge leap forward, they have an option on their newest release for autoPC...yes, it has flaws, every piece of software known to man has flaws in it.

                I'm sorry, it's just hard to see how you feel you're justified in your complaints when you have done little to contribute to this community. It sounds to me like you're just siting around, waiting for that magical end all be all solution.

                It's not justified from what see here.

                Yeah, this probably came across as really blunt and to the point, so what. I'm tired of hearing people complain left and right about things and not do a darn thing to fix the problem.

                How can you fix the problem you ask? Becaome an active member of the community. Try out the products and GIVE FEED BACK. By sitting in the wings waiting around for something to happen, you are essentially making this market smaller, which means fewer companies will take notice, which means fewer new products, and fewer new developments.

                do you think car audio was flawless and cheap in its infancy? if you do, you've been living under a rock your whole life....
                Jan Bennett
                FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                Comment


                • #9
                  You should take a look at the Infill T3 http://store.mp3car.com/ProductDetai...Code=SDK%2D007 It addresses all these issues and is a huge leap forward in terms of ease of installation and getting things to work as they should the first time out.

                  The display is digital, does native 800x480, automatically dims when you put your head lights on, and is sunlight readable.

                  The power supply supports hibernate, standby, and powering off well. It will even kill the power automatically if it detects low voltage. Return from standby is under 5 seconds.

                  The windows XP operating system isn't meant to be used while driving. StreetDeck runs while in motion and hides all the usability issues of standard windows, you can use windows however you want when stopped.

                  The Infill has a built in amp and all components were made from the ground up to work in the car. Ground loops shouldn't be an issue on typical installs.

                  The Infill runs StreetDeck, which will get you all the features and more of what you find in most in car nav systems.

                  The cost is certainly more then what you will pay if you cobble together a system yourself from various home pc parts, but there are a lot of custom parts in the infill made exclusivly for use in the car pc and the system is competive with similar all-in-one non-pc head units, plus it gives the expandability and customizability of a typical computer.
                  StreetDeck.com Developer (I am Chuck)
                  Get StreetDeck at http://www.streetdeck.com
                  The Official StreetDeck Forums have moved, please visit us at http://www.streetdeck.com/forum for official support for Streetdeck.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
                    you want to know why? everyone wants the new products, then they complain about the new product prices.

                    As a company, if you were to see that, would you be interested in putting the money into the R&D to develop a new product?

                    The public needs to learn that things aren't free. To get the quality you want you have to pay for it.

                    We can think places like wallyworld and ebay for this mentality.

                    every market goes through stagnation at some point or another, and guess what, it's cyclical. It will happen over and over and over as long as a particaulr market exists. It's the nature of the beast.

                    You complain about screens not working, I've run 3 differen screens, all Xenarcs, and all worked flawlessly while I had them. only when I sold the previous two and someone didn't know what they were doing or wanted to mess with the screen did they not work.

                    PSUs, market demands determine pricing, as does avaliability and production numbers. I ask you this, what are you basing your expensive comments on? The price of desktop PSUs? Do you really think that's a fair comparison?

                    Re displays, look at the size of this market, then look at the size of other display markets. This is a speck of dust on the map. The fact that we actually have transflective displays now is amazing. Why did it happen? because users were actively looking for better solutions and trying them out, rather than just waiting around for them to come to live and in the mean time, complaining that they don't exist.

                    Operating systems - what? you know how to write an entirely new operating system? have at it, let us know when you're done.

                    front ends lacking? I agree, but you know what, THEY ARE ALSO FREE for the most part. the one's that do work quite well that you pay for, I bet you would also complain about them costing too much?

                    Audio - ground loops are not something you should settle with. Consider this, the VAST majority of the people installing these things in their cars know little to nothing about car audio. having ground loops then is to be expected. If you want it flawless, pay someone who knows car audio to install it, but then again, I bet you would complain about the cost, right? so then, take the time to research how to do it right.

                    GPS - so you're complaining that someone hasn't come out and designed a GPS solution SPECIFICALLY for the Car PC maraket? do you really think that this market is THAT big that a company can justify spending all the time on development and research JUST for a fraction of the individuals who have PCs in their cars? iGuidance has taken a huge leap forward, they have an option on their newest release for autoPC...yes, it has flaws, every piece of software known to man has flaws in it.

                    I'm sorry, it's just hard to see how you feel you're justified in your complaints when you have done little to contribute to this community. It sounds to me like you're just siting around, waiting for that magical end all be all solution.

                    It's not justified from what see here.

                    Yeah, this probably came across as really blunt and to the point, so what. I'm tired of hearing people complain left and right about things and not do a darn thing to fix the problem.

                    How can you fix the problem you ask? Becaome an active member of the community. Try out the products and GIVE FEED BACK. By sitting in the wings waiting around for something to happen, you are essentially making this market smaller, which means fewer companies will take notice, which means fewer new products, and fewer new developments.

                    do you think car audio was flawless and cheap in its infancy? if you do, you've been living under a rock your whole life....
                    I'm not complaining, more frustrated than anything else (well, maybe I am complaining a little bit). I do realize that this is a very small, niche market and that the technical environment is extremely challenging. Most of what we put into our cars just aren't made to run in a car. My first attempt at a CarPC was a disaster and that's what makes me leary about buying more stuff, even though I now have a better idea of what will work and what won't. Yes, prices are little high and to be expected given the economies of scale, and advances will probably come at a slower pace than that of mass market electronics. But two years ago I remember there was new stuff coming out almost weekly. There was always something announced or coming soon. I'm guessing a lot of manufacturers jumped into the market with new products but didn't get a lot of payback on their investment, and now, the pipeline's dried up. Yes, I do realize that I get what I pay for, but there's a lot of uncertainty in all this and it's fairly risky.
                    2006 Rav4 + iPod, still CarPCless

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      risky?? like i said my risk was at most 300 bucks.

                      just save your old computer when you upgrade, and wait to find a deal on ebay for a screen.
                      then you halfway there.

                      and just cuz they werent designed to run in cars doesnt mean nothing.
                      i mean i had pci popping out, hard shut off of pc (just alot of abuse all around) and it all still works.

                      i think maybe a little more education into general electronics, cars,and computers, and you might not have such a gloom outlook.
                      Core duo
                      1tb harddrive
                      256 ddr
                      8 lilliput
                      bu-353

                      still installing...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think it's a great time to be in the carpc market. Just watching the Intel keynote video about streetdeck got me pumped up about what could happen for in car computing. I know companies will take it and run and say they did it all first... but everyone here has been doing it before there was such a thing as an ipod.

                        I think the screen upgrades and power supplies have been amazing considering the niche of the market. I think that what has happened with transreflective will be supported even more when auto manufacturers take that technology farther, using their larger financial banking, and make it even better and cheaper.

                        I have to say in a year I think prices will be so tempting that even MORE people will be surfing around these forums. It's only getting better in my view... not stagnant.
                        My Site: http://www.reinerweb.us
                        My Car : http://members.cardomain.com/reiner15

                        Car Computer Alias - TekPC
                        Current Progress - - Brainstorming

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 84RegalRider View Post
                          risky?? like i said my risk was at most 300 bucks.

                          just save your old computer when you upgrade, and wait to find a deal on ebay for a screen.
                          then you halfway there.

                          and just cuz they werent designed to run in cars doesnt mean nothing.
                          i mean i had pci popping out, hard shut off of pc (just alot of abuse all around) and it all still works.

                          i think maybe a little more education into general electronics, cars,and computers, and you might not have such a gloom outlook.
                          It's probably because I've finally gotten the education into general electronics, cars, and computers that I have a relatively gloom outlook. When I first got into this, I thought all you needed was to get an inverter and some spare computer parts and you were off to the races. I didn't mean this post to become so negative, I wanted to spark some conversation on where the industry was and where the industry was going.
                          2006 Rav4 + iPod, still CarPCless

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SwapMeet View Post
                            It's probably because I've finally gotten the education into general electronics, cars, and computers that I have a relatively gloom outlook. When I first got into this, I thought all you needed was to get an inverter and some spare computer parts and you were off to the races. I didn't mean this post to become so negative, I wanted to spark some conversation on where the industry was and where the industry was going.
                            I'm sure none of the posters want to come across as negative they just want to point out there are more pros than cons and that you won't be able to take a handful of parts off the shelf from multiple manufactuers and hope for a positive end result without a little work on your part in integrating everything together. A little research and experimentation works wonders.
                            "A rose by any other name is still a flower"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              too many words.....
                              '02 GTI
                              [Routis '04] [Opus 90W] [160GB Maxtor HD]
                              [Lilliput 7" TS] [VIA M10000] [XMPCR]
                              [512MB RAM] [Custom housing]
                              [Deluo GPS Mouse] [E-MU 0404 Soundcard]
                              Progress Meter: [==============|] 99.9%

                              Comment

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