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Have tablets killed the use of CarPCs?

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  • Have tablets killed the use of CarPCs?

    I'm just sitting here with a dual core, 2GB laptop that I can rip to pieces and turn into a CarPC no problem.

    However, there's 7" eBay Android tablets everywhere all day long for 100 which is about what a screen kit costs before delivery.

    Is there any REAL advatage of the car PC?

  • #2
    It's like everything in life, everything is a trade-off. Your trading off easy of install lower cost for less functionality. If you won't miss any of the additional functionality a PC offers then, the tablet will save you time & money.
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

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    • #3
      ^ exactly. i built a carpc for music storage, and audio processing. no tablet will do audio processing by themselves..
      My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
      "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


      next project? subaru brz
      carpc undecided

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      • #4
        It seems like a lot of things have killed the car PC. At this rate I don't think my car PC will ever get installed as it seems like support and development is dwindling fast.

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        • #5
          Like was said, PC's can do complex audio processing (but so can some off-board processors built for car stereo) and they have, via I/O modules and customization, almost limitless flexibility of application. However, this comes with added cost in time and money.

          I've owned both, for a long while now, and my tablet install is like a breath of fresh air....I would challenge anyone to find a better, more responsive, and accurate display and touch screen for less than $700 for PC, and the requirements for power, mounting, etc. are minuscule compared to the customization work you'll do with that laptop. The options available for nav on a tablet make the PC options look either laughably outdated, or way too expensive and unsupported, imho. That, and although the PC has more functionality in terms of application, you'll go through a ton of work to make it any more useful than a tablet.

          For me, the checklist looks like this, for android functionality: Nav? Check/likely better. Off-board storage, USB or networked? Check. OBD-II? Check. Bluetooth? Sure, what flavor you want? Music browsing and playback? Check. Wireless/Mobile internet? Of course you can. An environment where everything is ready to run in a touch interface? You won't find that on a PC without a lot of work.

          Whereas on PC: Expensive? Check. (Relatively) Difficult to install? Check. Heat/motion problems to overcome? Likely. Large footprint? Likely, but possible to overcome. High power requirement? Likely. Display problems? Depends on how much money you got. Software interface that requires editing .ini's and complex setup procedure? You bet. Startup/Shutdown issues? Likely.
          Last edited by hithere; 12-12-2012, 07:41 PM.
          I have too much time and too little aggravation in my life, so I built a carPC. ;)

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          • #6
            I agree with a lot of checks, but there's a question I'm not able to answer.
            With a PC is possible to use a relatively cheap audio board that offers a good audio quality, optical outputs and signal levels suitable for car amplifiers.
            With tablets is usually available an headset output only (as I know).
            Although I haven't a sophisticated audio system, but the bmw oem one, I think that a good source could make the difference.
            So is there a tablet with a digital, or anyway suitable, interface for this application?

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            • #7
              On an Android tablet, can you have a full screen GPS map actively reading you directions from offline maps while also displaying media and volume controls along the edge of the display?

              What about sun reflections from ultra-glossy tablet screens? How about using the screen while wearing gloves?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                On an Android tablet, can you have a full screen GPS map actively reading you directions from offline maps while also displaying media and volume controls along the edge of the display?
                No, I have to touch the right corner of the display to bring up the play, pause, ff, rewind and volume controls, which are available even when the nav is running. To switch apps, I have to touch the left corner, and select from a windowed list of running apps. I'd trade that any day for my experiences with PC nav solutions.

                Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                What about sun reflections from ultra-glossy tablet screens?
                Hasn't been a problem so far at all, and I'll put it up against, for example, a $400 transflective Zenarc any day of the week, at any time. The cost of that better touch experience on android is less for the complete install (sans common equipment like amps) than the PC solution for the touch screen alone.

                Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                How about using the screen while wearing gloves?
                Well, that's a problem I can solve with a pair of gloves with a touch-enabled finger tip, which also work on a smartphone. Solving your typical PC monitor problems are more costly.


                I'll say this though: These are all matters of opinion and personal viewpoint. To be truthful, a tablet installed in a car IS a car PC, just in a different form factor and (likely) different OS. Microsoft is doing what it can to make Windows-equipped PC's operable in touch interfaces, and the folks behind Android are endeavoring to make their product more flexible in terms of application and hardware support, like a PC. Microsoft is gonna have some pretty sweet tablet options coming down the pipe soon, especially when I5's start showing up in tablets early next year. Then, you'll start seeing heavy support for things like touch-enabled navigation showing up, and you'll likely not give anything up in terms of support for USB devices and whatnot, opening up all kinds of in-car options without sacrificing the ease and interface of a traditional tablet experience...good times are ahead for either camp. But for 99% of people starting out, who don't want a PC in their glovebox and complicated wiring to support shutdown and turn-up, and complicated software setup and hardware customization, I think an android tablet is a great "just works" solution right now, for the most popular applications like nav, music browsing, weather reports, email, calendar, OBD, etc.
                Last edited by hithere; 12-12-2012, 08:12 PM.
                I have too much time and too little aggravation in my life, so I built a carPC. ;)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by hithere View Post
                  No, I have to touch the right corner of the display to bring up the play, pause, ff, rewind and volume controls, which are available even when the nav is running. To switch apps, I have to touch the left corner, and select from a windowed list of running apps. I'd trade that any day for my experiences with PC nav solutions.
                  See I'm not interested in hunting around for functions that should be fixed on the screen, especially when driving. It's almost as bad as using a phone while driving.



                  Originally posted by hithere View Post
                  Hasn't been a problem so far at all, and I'll put it up against, for example, a $400 transflective Zenarc any day of the week, at any time.
                  My PlayBook's screen is easier to see in bright light than my transflective lilliput, however when the sun hits it directly it's like holding a mirror up and looking directly into the sun. Any glossy screen will be like this. I'd rather have my screen wash out a bit in bright light than reflect the sun directly into my eyes.

                  Originally posted by hithere View Post
                  Well, that's a problem I can solve with a pair of gloves with a touch-enabled finger tip, which also work on a smartphone. Solving your typical PC monitor problems are more costly.
                  I'm not interested in touch enabled gloves as a replacement for my nice leather gloves.


                  Originally posted by hithere View Post
                  I'll say this though: These are all matters of opinion and personal viewpoint. To be truthful, a tablet installed in a car IS a car PC, just in a different form factor and (likely) different OS.
                  I'll agree that it's a form of a car PC. Just much more limited.


                  Let's see what's not supported on tablets:

                  Sirius/XM hardware.
                  HD Radio, AM/FM tuners, etc.
                  External GPS antennas. (useful if you need to relocate the GPS for a better signal)
                  GPS dead reckoning devices.
                  No proper front-end application integrating all the features properly is available.
                  Multi display setups (getting more advanced but people want it)

                  The list goes on.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                    I'm not interested in touch enabled gloves as a replacement for my nice leather gloves.
                    always have a pair of rugged wear box handling gloves.. they don't work right away, but a few days of working out in the field with them, and they've worn in enough to be perfect for capacitive touch displays..




                    Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                    I'll agree that it's a form of a car PC. Just much more limited.
                    'limited' makes it sound like tablets are poor.. they're not. if it wasn't for my bullheadedness about using my pc to process and distribute the audio instead of relying on a external device to do it, pretty much any tablet would be more then capable to do everything i want out of a carpc, even more. sure they lack some external expandability, but not everyone needs that..
                    My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                    "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


                    next project? subaru brz
                    carpc undecided

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      hmmm... i was looking for a tablet to put in my peugeot 307, but i spent so much money in the carpc, that for a while i cant leave it until it has about 3-5 years....

                      the problem of the carpc is:

                      1) the slow boot (but windows 8, pratically fixed this, so not a big problem)....
                      2) The frontends are outdated, hmmm, not sure if outdated is the correct word, only Ride Runner is the one that area updated every month, but still "old", im not complaining, so far RR is the best thing i ever used in my pc, but its really "old"...

                      2.1) The frontends dont have more devs to make skins =/, only ugly skins, DFX is the best, but for me sometimes freeze, laggy, so im using the Carwings, really fast, but the buttons/options are not "speedy/finger friendly"... not really complaining again... only saying things that could be better

                      i tryed to do "skins" but i was a disaster... will try again in december, not to do another skin but edit carwing to make it better, display time is the first thing i have to do --'



                      by the way, is the best in the market of free carpc market....



                      i tryed to find the windows ce to install and use some programs in it... but no success searching/finding or help in it.....

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                      • #12
                        If a tablet which requires you to switch apps from GPS to music and back again every time you want the info/functions at your fingertips was really ideal in a car, we'd just be using the Windows XP desktop with no need for front-end software.

                        There's a reason why OEM navigation units have a "front-end" interface. It's unsafe to be flipping between applications when driving.

                        There's a lot that needs to be improved in the Car PC world - front-ends, mediocre hardware accessories that are difficult to install, mediocre software, mediocre Bluetooth handsfree support, etc. But it's a platform that allows for far more features and options than tablets ever will.

                        Show me a proper front-end, offline maps, the ability to manage BT handsfree phone calls and Sirius/XM functionality on a tablet and then we'll talk about a tablet replacing the traditional car PC.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                          If a tablet which requires you to switch apps from GPS to music and back again every time you want the info/functions at your fingertips was really ideal in a car, we'd just be using the Windows XP desktop with no need for front-end software.

                          There's a reason why OEM navigation units have a "front-end" interface. It's unsafe to be flipping between applications when driving.

                          There's a lot that needs to be improved in the Car PC world - front-ends, mediocre hardware accessories that are difficult to install, mediocre software, mediocre Bluetooth handsfree support, etc. But it's a platform that allows for far more features and options than tablets ever will.

                          Show me a proper front-end, offline maps, the ability to manage BT handsfree phone calls and Sirius/XM functionality on a tablet and then we'll talk about a tablet replacing the traditional car PC.
                          1) Offline maps -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAQqqfkXuiA
                          2) BT Handsfree phone calls, 90% near what you want, -> same video
                          3) i think Sirius/XM functionally i think not yet.... but maybe someone find i way or you can download it from playstore, i dont know, will look later

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                            Show me a proper front-end, offline maps, the ability to manage BT handsfree phone calls and Sirius/XM functionality on a tablet and then we'll talk about a tablet replacing the traditional car PC.
                            I've used both systems (used many popular skins for RoadRunner/RideRunner for about 5 years on my carPC install, been on android now for a few months).

                            Front End: I'd argue that android, with its customization features, variable dpi, various launchers, widgets, gesture support, and ways to group and display app shortcuts, is as "proper" as the most popular PC front-ends for in-car use. I don't find myself using any more button presses for switching apps in android than I did for RR, or at least I don't feel like I am. A lot of this depends on the android version you're using. In my notification area, for example, there are play/pause/ff/rw controls for audio, as well as soft volume controls, and these controls are available, at a press, even when navigating on my offline maps in CoPilot...that wasn't always the case in android, and such things aren't supported on every device, so make sure you're not arguing based on older data you have on the experience. Point of fact, I'd argue that the fluidity of the interface and response to gestures and multi-touch far outweighs, for example, the in-built shortcuts and command buttons that are more or less conveniently placed in front-ends like RoadRunner/RideRunner. I spend far less time navigating the touch interface on android than I ever did on any carPC front-end I ever used.

                            Offline Maps: You got CoPilot and Route66 offering offline maps in android, and although I haven't gained a broad view of what else is out there, for $10 CoPilot offers an offline nav experience that makes anything I had on the PC (up until about May of this year) look like a silly product of a bye-gone era. I have thorough and accurate offline maps of NA (I believe they contract with Garmin or some other mapping entity for updated maps), and online you can have 3D buildings and terrain available, streaming overhead photography, you can even overlay a "chase car" on a given tablet's front-facing camera view and "follow" it to your destination, provided it's positioned to capture the view out the front windshield. The touch interface is also leagues ahead of what I experienced on PC. Route calculation is all but instantaneous, and animations including auto-zoom and lane indications for exits and lane shifts is perfect. Word to the wise: If I were arguing for PC-based in-car solutions, I'd stay as far away from the topic of nav as possible, it will do nothing for your cause.

                            BT: Bluetooth hands-free calling IS a problem on an android tablet...the funny thing about it is, however, that a lot of the people riding around with carPCs and bluetooth headsets have a phone that's perfectly capable of voice-dialing, and bluetooth hands-free is rapidly becoming a standard feature in most new automobiles. It's a problem on tablets that's often hardware-solvable, for an outlay of cash and labor that, even together with the tablet install itself, remains some fraction of what it costs to put a bluetooth-equipped PC in a car. HOWEVER, I will give you that managing this on the android OS itself can be problematic, provided you're not running some phone-to-screen solution. To me, there's no sense in arguing bluetooth call management on a touch screen when voice dialing/etc. is available in so many forms so cheaply. That, and there are a number of solutions to directly control your phone via an android tablet, as well as phone-to-screen solutions that completely remove the problem, arguably offering a better call management setup than anything I've seen on the PC thus far.

                            Sirius/XM functionality: Yup, I know of no tablet interface that will incorporate satellite-fed radio. The streaming app is pretty good (arguably better than satellite, better SQ, better features), but requires mobile broadband. I will say this, however: These in-car computing platforms, be it PC, iOS, or Android, really open up with mobile broadband, and this becomes something of a non-issue for many people that use their carPCs in this way. I'm more into podcasts now than I am satellite, even though I maintain an online subscription. Given the simplicity of the USB interface for sirius, for example, I'm thinking it'll be a matter of time before someone thinks of a way to get a tablet to talk to it.

                            Arguing in favor of a tablet solution, I'd say you have a vastly better and more responsive touch experience (mind you, I used a capacitive touch screen for much of my time with a carPC) with most tablets (smooth-zooming multi-touch, smooth and fluid gesture support, etc), a vastly better screen, a much cheaper total cost, a much simpler install, a much smaller footprint, vastly improved power requirements, "instant on" (provided the right tablet with the right approach) that's both faster and more survivable and reliable than any carPC I've seen come out of standby/hibernation, many more touch-friendly apps without the complicated setup that incorporation in a PC front end requires, and better software/hardware support across the board (depending on the popularity of the app, of course).

                            But yeah, there are definitely "gotcha's" and caveats to an android or other tablet-based system. It's just that the same sorts of things exist on PC, just in different areas. PC is still the right solution for some people, but I do feel that the community as a whole is moving toward tablets and inherently mobile platforms such as smart phones faster than the ranks of the in-car PC populace are being replenished. There will always be a corps of people who want a more engineer-centric approach that offers more flexibility in the long run, but I have no doubt there are or soon will be many more in-car tablet users than there are traditional in-car PC aficionados.
                            Last edited by hithere; 12-13-2012, 11:27 AM.
                            I have too much time and too little aggravation in my life, so I built a carPC. ;)

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                            • #15
                              Very nice "review" hithere!!! you have a video of your install?

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