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Newbie ?...laptop or not

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  • Newbie ?...laptop or not

    First things first...WOW!!!

    I stumbled across this site by accident tonight and didn't realize this was going on. I've been looking at htpc stuff for about 6 months, so when I saw this I was aw-struck. Very cool.

    As I'm sitting here thinking through what I would do, I wonder whether it is better to use a laptop or modify a home pc. Any opinions? Main thing would be ease of install. I would think the laptop could go under the front seat without much problem and I assume the touch screen could be set up to "wake" the computer out of suspend so as not needing a powersupply connected to the ignition switch or needing to pull the 'puter out and hit a power button to start it.

    I would primarily be using it for mp3 playing, maybe gps, if I could find an inexpensive usb thermometer that would go in and possibly a contact db for those times you really need to find someone's number or address. The other possibility would be to include a media card reader for those times you run out of room on your digital camera on a trip.

    I'm single without kids, so no reason for dvd.

    The car it would go into is a 99 Grand Prix. Would love to figure out a way to put a touch screen some place in front of that ashtray, but would be a tight squeeze. (yes I went out to my car and looked around after reading several posts and I think I left some drool in there) I hate to admit it, but I still have the original stereo equipment in the car if that helps in your comments. Anyone know of a better place to put it on a gp? I really like the orange/red dash of the gp, so it would be cool to find a skin that was a near match.

    Based on what I would use it for, what would you suggest for a cpu speed and operating system? 98/2k/xp?

    Ok, I'll go back to drooling and dreaming. Sorry for the long post. Just totally excited with the thought of this. If my questions have been asked...sorry. I've been looking at the site for a couple hours and didn't see any answers to these questions.


  • #2

    yea, i did the same thing as you one night as i was bored.. been thinking of a car pc for about a year now or so (ever since via released the epia-m mini-itx boards and i bought one.. )..

    so here's what i want (similar to you) with my project:
    -lcd monitor mounted on dash somehow
    -easy method of input to pc (ie touchscreen/custom keypad/etc)
    -no major electrical mods to car (since car is an accord 2002, don't want to mess with warranty too much)
    -not worried about having system turn on when car does, wiling to have manual power on for pc
    -very small form factor and accessible by driver (again to power on pc and put in dvd/cd)
    -clean look
    -gps optional but be able to do as an easy addon
    -dvd playback
    -mp3 playback through existing car audio system (i already have a very nice headunit (pioneer DHP-7500MP, w/mp3 player and amp and sub)

    i am currently working on a project myself, just started this week.
    i've toyed with the idea of a micro-atx based home pc in my car but decided that the power issue was annnoying and all... so i scratched that idea... too much electrical which i do not know yet.. plus, i don't need that kind of raw power..

    so i've decided with this:
    -using a minibook pc (1.3ghz celeron) w/dvd drive (from tigerdirect, $449)
    -Lilliput 7" Touchscreen VGA-LCD (has two rca inputs, vga input, usb touchscreen, ac/dc and dc/dc power cables, again so i don't have ot rewire or anything)
    -custom mounting bracket from ebay, really sweet one too! ($9)
    -3 port cigarette power adapter (w/built inline fuse)
    -car dc laptop adapter for power to minibook (depends though on how much power i need and what voltage i need)

    i think i'm gonna mount this baby on my dash, gonna probably remove my clock (and if possible, might see if there are any hacks that let me use my clock power to power lcd if its not too hard) and have lcd mount mounted in that spot and then run wires in dash (hidden)

    thinking of putting the minibook pc in my armrest area but need to think about heat, so might need to put in cooling of some type..

    Oh yea!
    as for O/S, i plan on using Windows XP Prof or perhaps Windows 2000 Pro, but gonna use desktop x for my shell (already create my own theme for use in car so i have large icons on desktop for winamp and powerdvd and it looks sweet!!!)
    honestly, i believe that a 1.0ghz would suffice for what your doing, not like your gaming in your car... i'll post updates if your interested..

    just what i'm doing , perhaps will give you some ideas or not..
    "knowledge is power, spread the power"
    check out seamonkey's guides to xbox and dvd at:


    • #3
      I find it easiest to just try some stuff with what you have, and see it it works for you...and figure out exactly what you need.

      You could build one that is capable of doing great cost and much pain to setup and install.

      For example, grab your laptop or desktop computer, throw it in the car (plugged into an inverter from walmart or wherever) and see how you can improve the process.
      current projects


      • #4
        If i was you, i'd go with a laptop now. It will be so much easier and cheaper - as they can be power with much less hassel.
        This project has already cost me my bank, and its still not finshed.


        • #5
          Thanks for the comments, guys. Your comments about powering a laptop are kind of what I was thinking; that it would be much easier to accomplish than actually installing a pc in the car. Any commnets on using standby with a touchscreen? Can you wake from standby that way?


          • #6
            well, you cant wake from touchscreen, you will need a keyboard. But thats really no problem to do.


            • #7
              Isn't there a setting in the BIOS to allow for USB wake-up?


              • #8
                I'm using a laptop, very impressed with how its all worked out. I'm using 2 relays, when turn my key, the 12v ing flicks a relay, which presses the power button, then then laptop turns on, it then powers a 5v relay via the ps2 port, then thar turns the 12v ing relay off, by cutting power to it. The reason for this second relay is to stop the laptop turning off if you call in for gas. All the relays are contained in the docking station of the laptop, which saved me opening the laptop. I bought the laptop to be used just as a carpc. Its a PIII1000 and is just the job.
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