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Can't decide if the Carputer approach is right for my needs

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  • Can't decide if the Carputer approach is right for my needs

    Hey Everyone!

    This is my first post on the forum, so I thought I'd introduce myself and let you know about my dilemma. I'm hoping the veterans here can help me out. I drive a 94 LS400 which is my baby, and I'm finally getting around to replacing my Pioneer HU for a host of reasons. It served me well. Upfront I have a pair of CDT components which I love, and I will be replacing those with new CDT components. In my trunk I have an Elemental Designs sub that sits inside my spare wheel in a fiberglass enclosure so as to give me my trunk. I'll be powering it all with the new ED 5-channel amp, all in all it will be running about 1000WRMS when I'm done.

    But I'm in a dilemma. I'm not sure if the Carputer is what I want/need. I'm considering a couple other options, all of which are pretty good. I've begun by reading the Wiki and I've answered some of my own questions about the technical possibilities with a Carputer, but I need a more quantitative analysis.

    Also, I just graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in EE and CS, so I'm not a newbie to computers I don't mind getting my hands dirty and writing a few hacks here and there to make it work, but for the most part, I want to be able to build it, load software, configure it, and getting it going. I don't want to write anything from the ground up--...

    Let me specify exactly what I need in my HU, in somewhat order of importance (but not exactly).

    1) Easy to use, nice looking user-interface. Can't stress this one enough, as I'm sure you all can relate.

    2) iPOD integration. Even if the carputer has an HD, I use my iPod as my central DB of music. I want to be able to plug it in, and have a nice interface to control it. I'm using the new Pioneer units as a benchmark for this. The Avic units have a great interface for usign the iPod.. its basically the iPod interface duplicated on the screen. Eclipse does a great job too.

    3) Navigation. I want a great looking, accurate nav, preferably that comes with a nice soothing female voice who also accepts my voice commands. (She'd be the first ). Again, I'm using the Avic Z1/Z2 from Pioneer as a benchmark, as well as the Tom Tom interface. Those are some damn nice navi setups.

    4) Time Correction. I just can't live without this feature anymore. It's crucial to a proper setup. Presets would be nice Its got to be able to handle al 5 channels (4 speakers + sub).

    5) High Powered Line Level Outputs. I want something near 4-5V in outpout voltage, at < 100 ohms. I really want a clean signal to my amp so at high volumes I can minimize as much noise as possible.

    6) Parametric EQ. Anything with 16 or more bands will be fine. Presets are also nice here

    7) X-over setup. Not super worried about this, my amp has a great x-over setup, but if I can do it digitally then why not.

    8) BlueTooth for Phone. Also want a nice interface for this. I want my music to automatically mute. I want to be able to see the nav while I'm on the phone.i want to see who's calling, accept the call, and make calls from the HU.

    Pretty much I want it all. In one package. I think that about covers it. Let me tell you about the alternatives I'm considering.

    Pioneer Avic Z2
    • Pros:
    • AMAZING Nav.
    • Great iPod interface
    • Great BT interface

    • LLO sucks
    • No TimeCorrection/Alignment
    • EQ sucks

    Pioneer DEH-P980BT single din HU + Tom Tom Navigation mounted in dash
    This is a little different setup. I'd be using the "best" of "both worlds". This pioner HU kicks ***, and the Tom Tom nav is also spectacular. I'd mount one of those portable TomTom's in my dash, along with the Pioneer unit

    • "Best of both worlds"
    • Great LLO
    • Built in 24 bit DAC
    • Great iPod interface
    • Time correction
    • Has mic for auto adjustment
    • Great BlueTooth interface
    • "Instant" start up time compared to carputer

    • Have to use 2 units
    • Nav screen is smaller

    Thats pretty much what I'm considering alongside a carputer. Here's my pro/con breakdown of a carputer setup. Please challenge my assertions and provide your opinions.

    • Great SQ tuning possibilities with advanced time alignment, EQs, and x-overs
    • Ability to use excellent sound cards, so I'm assuming better DSP and DACs onboard
    • Lots of flexibility
    • Many other uses of car puter

    • Startup time (I do however have remote start on the car.. so that should help)
    • Power consumption.. my system is already pushing 1000WRms.
    • Not sure about compatibility of all software
    • Not sure about how nice interface is

    In this project... cost is not my deciding factor. I'm pretty sure building a great Carputer would be cheaper than the Avic Z2, which is selling for like $1800.

    Bottom line.. I want my cake.. and I want to eat it too.

    Please help me decide! Thank you.

  • #2
    No one can chime in? Surely other people have faced this dilemma.


    • #3
      Tom Tom is the defacto standard in GPS. If you don't want anything lesser, you should stick with the Tom Tom.
      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!


      • #4

        i'm sort of a newb too. just put my first carputer together and will be installing it in my Z4 very soon. one thing that you will get with the other systems is stability. there are many nice looking Front Ends around (with different skins and plugins) for the car PC but it will never be as stable as an in-dash Nav/DVD system.

        But with a car pc the possiblities are endless. i mean you can get it do ANYTHING with the right software. Also the carpc interfaces are a lot nicer looking than your other options. Plus you will probably end up paying less for a CarPC.

        I had the same delima as you did but after a bit of research i took the CarPC path. I'm still doing Setups to get everything to work properly and it seems like an endless tast but i'm liking it.

        Let me know if you need more info and i'll try to help with the little knowledge that i have.


        • #5
          if the criteria holds a car pc probably isnt for you.. like red said... if its a Tom Tom navigation or bust scenario there is really nothing on the pc that can compare. iGuidance 4 should be released this month.. but as of now there's nothing. Also, if you plan on using your ipod for ALL of your music storage there's really no point in gettin a car pc installed. Get a small navi system, a HU with all of your processing needs and an ipod hookup and call it a day.
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          • #6
            another thread that might be beneficial.
            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!