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Noob trying to decide between aftermarket or CarPC

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  • Noob trying to decide between aftermarket or CarPC

    Hi all, I'm new here and in the process of getting a new car possibly with a car pc system. I've decided I'm definitely going with the 2008 Accord Coupe and the only thing left to decide is whether to go with a standard aftermarket system or car pc.

    A little background, as far as computers go I'm extremely tech savvy. I personally own and use daily 2 laptops (both Macbook Pros, one running Vista Ultima the other running OSX), 1 Ultraportable laptop (XP Pro and Sabayon Linux Dual Boot), 1 Tablet PC (Vista and XP Pro dual boot), 1 main desktop (quad core gaming spec), 1 server (dual core 2 TB storage with two 32'' display running Server 2003 soon to be Windows Home Server) and a miscellaneous assortment of computer parts that I use for testing mostly but if needed I could build 2 or 3 full PCs out of it. I'm in Pharmacy school, but also working fulltime for a small business as managing their IT and as their in-house programmer (I do mainly windows programming in .NET 2005 but also develop some apps in parallel for OSX w/ xcode and i have also done some Windows Mobile and web app development). As far as computer's go I definitely consider myself an expert. But when it comes to cars I'm a total noob. I've changed a tire once and changed my oil once but anything more than that I take it to a shop or call one of my car friends.

    As far as my needs, in order from most important to least:
    • HDD based mp3 playback. I don't own a single CD anymore (ripped my collection years ago) and don't want to even consider burning my mp3s, so this is a must.
    • Navigation, don't need this considering my phone has GPS and I hardly us that, but it's still cool to have. Always having POIs and a map handy is great.
    • Video playback (mostly avi's) from HDD. I also don't own any DVDs anymore everything I have has been ripped to avi or mpg and is sitting on my server. I won't be playing to many videos, but it could be nice just because.
    • Back-up camera, not like I would really need it in a coupe, but it's still cool to have.
    • Bluetooth handsfree, I don't use my phone much in the car, but this would be nice to have and it's illegal to talk and drive in DC without one.
    • iPod/Zune integration. I don't own or even like ipods or zunes, but it'd be nice to be able to hook someone else's up if I'm driving with a friend since I've been told I have weird tastes in music.

    I've been searching for the perfect car entertainment system and I think I've narrowed it down to two systems:
    • A Clarion NAX980HD with a MAX685BT which looks like an amazing system and has just about every feature I could ask for, check out some youtube vids of it in action - (Zune, Ipod, Navigation).
    • Or a full car pc like Infill G4. The clarion looks great but you can't beat having a full XP PC in your car, especially since I'm a programmer this system could have limitless flexibility.

    My only issue with the Clarion system is that I haven't seen many reviews or been able to find much information about it's use when it comes to adding songs/movies to the HDD or even upgrading the maps. All that I've found is that you can plug a flash drive in and import, but I haven't seen anything about direct PC connectivity. I have a few issues with the Infill G4:
    • Boot times (the site advertises 3 seconds, but running XP i'll have to see it to believe it). I guess if it were kept in standby 24/7 that could work but then wouldn't that drain your car battery?
    • UI Integration, the UI must be fast, slick and look great. I don't want to feel like I need a mouse/keyboard for anything because I'd probably end up getting one and I could see that leading to an accident.
    • XP - I just don't like the idea of XP in the car, it feels way to overpowered for my needs. Plus I feel like I'd get carried away tinkering and spend more time messing with it than actually using it. I wish it were running Windows Mobile, or some other WinCE derivative. I'm suprised more systems out there don't use WinCE it's feature rich and powerful enough for the car without being too bloated imho.

    That's all for now, and thanks for all of your input.