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Hardware Review: Mobile Computing Solutions Mini ITX 2ghz Computer (and peripherals)

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  • Hardware Review: Mobile Computing Solutions Mini ITX 2ghz Computer (and peripherals)



    Caviate:
    This review in no way is meant as a pro or con for other manufacturers, especially MP3.com. I went with this computer for specific reasons listed below and it is the only computer I have used.

    What it is/does: Main Mobile Computer

    Reviewed by: Danielkh
    Manufacturer: Mobile Computing Solutions

    Specs:

    Motherboard: J7F2WE2G-OC-PB (2.0GHz 20 Watt VIA C7 CPU)
    Hard Drive: 120G Seagate 2.5" SATA hard drive
    DVD/CD Drive Support: External Slot Loading USB DVD ROM/CD R/RW Drive
    PCI Expansion Slots: 1x
    Video: 1 VGA, 1 Composite Video, 1 S-video (64Mb Shared RAM VIA AGP Uni-Chrome)
    USB: 4x USB 1.1/2.0 Support for 2x additional (1x with Internal Bluetooth unit installed)
    Daughterboard: PCMCIA Type I/ II and Compact Flash Card reader
    Audio: 6ch Surround Sound '97AC audio CODEC
    RAM: DDR2 PC4200/533MHz 1024Mb/1Gb
    Built in LAN, Harddrive saver card (didn't use), Bluetooth

    Power Supply: M2-ATX Intelligent 160W DC to DC Power Supply

    Case: Dimensions: 10" x 9.25" x 3.125"/254mm x 235mm x 80mm
    Color: Black with light grey logo
    Case Ventilation: 1 40 x 40 x 10mm fan
    Mounting Position: Universal

    Price: $US $599.99
    Rating: 8/10
    Manufacturer website: www.mo-co-so.com
    Purchased at: Ebay.com

    Installed pics can be found here:
    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...t-install.html

    Initial needs:
    I used to be one of those commuters that used a laptop in my car. I had one of those great mounts and all, but found vibration was a MAJOR issue. Found that the laptop would freeze at certain points, and if the computer went into anything that required constant read/write/search such as virus check, defrag, search, etc., well, you might as well buy another harddrive.

    So when I started looking at computers, I had 2 major requirements:1) Vibration isolation. I wanted to make sure that the manufacturer was aware of the issue and had made appropriate adjustments. (MOCO uses military grade isolation bushings) and 2) PCMCIA support for internet support using cellular card.

    Cons:
    When originally connected, there was a problem with the power connector pins not seating properly. I reported this back and the company responded quickly. I wound up hardwiring the computer as I didn't need quick connect capabilities (plus I didn't want to wait any longer to begin the install.....like a kid in a candy store). I am not sure if this was a bad connector or bad manufacturer.

    Not sure I am happy with 64mb shared memory for video. Know from my desktop building days that the #1 way to really speed up a computer is with increased RAM and Video RAM. From what I have read, the newer versions of this motherboard are running 128mb shared RAM. Now this isn't really a slam on this computer as all manufacturers use smaller case, and I had to go with PCMCIA support, but would have loved to have a room to mount a video card. Limitted space means limitted resources.

    Pros:

    Vibration isolation: After installing the computer and StreetDeck, I wanted to find this area around where I live where someone has actually carved their name in an entire forest. Texas received record rains this year, and a lot of the gravel roads were damaged. While following the directions, I wound up on a road that would litterally rattle your teeth. I thought it would be fine "just a little further", but it never got better. Spent probably 30-50 minutes crawling on this road, music and navigation running the whole time, without a single hiccup. Not sure if anyone knows what the suspension is like on a 350Z, but this was MAJOR!

    Computer went into virus check without me knowing it. Finally caught it at 90% and 120 miles. Never a skip. This was exactly the computer I was looking for.

    I use a soundblaster live external for music, but used the internal sound card for microphone/voice command capabilities. Works great even at cruising speed.

    The internal bluetooth works great for a small keyboard/trackball I use when stopped.

    The video is good. Can't say great because of the 64mb shared, but it is good.

    USB: Having the 4 ports instead of the usual 2 has been great. I have A LOT of peripherals and haven't had too many problems. Once everything got "shaken out" over the first month, all seems quite stable.

    DVD/CDRW: Having this in the console rather than built into the computer is fantastic. Saves opening doors all the time

    Temperature: During my original build, I felt the case was getting too hot, so I installed extra fans. When doing some research on other installs, it appears that the temperature is at or below the average. According to manufacturer, this is due to case design.

    Support: While this is listed last, it is one of my major concerns. Which would you rather have: Toyota that runs great, but when it breaks, the builder fixes it immediately? Or a farrari that spends 90% of the time in the shop WAITING for a mechanic. Tech support is number 1 in my book (Maybe because I am a field service engineer). This company is fantasic with responding to e-mails. I have recently wanted to upgrade some things on my computer, and rather than try and sell me the most expensive, we discussed the most functional. Another BIG plus.

    Rumor:
    Along with the motherboards going to 128mb shared, I have also heard rumors that the new models will have built in WiFi and built in HQCT!

    Periferals:

    Radioshark-- It sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, did I say it sucks? Avoid like the plague. Version one AND two. May work fine in urban areas, but the interface sucks, the reception sucks, just really bad. Waiting for the Boomzbox. WHERE IS IT?!

    Griffin PowerMate (MP3.car)-- Absolute lifesaver! Just came out of shoulder surgery. Have the knob set for long click-Voice control, and I tell you, wonder how I lived without it.

    Mp3Car USB adapter for XM Direct (mp3car.com)-- A little more road noise than I like, but overall works pretty well. Good buy.

    Streetdeck -- A must have. Never spent $200 for software in my life. Well worth it.

    Xenarc 700TSV-- Another must have. Fits perfectly in 350Z nav cubby and with the IR support, no need for visible controls. Auto on is perfect!

    Soundblaster Live 24 External -- Works great. Good buy.

    About all for now. I have a lot more periferals, so will edit this as I think of them.

    Dan
    My opinion is my own.

  • #2
    Have you experienced any issues with cpu holding 100% when playing video? Most of the time close with audio as well. Sound isn't choppy, just can't do anything else. Very concerning since I feel as if this board can't support simple tasks like playing video and audio at same time? Any ideas?
    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...06-vw-gti.html

    Snowperformance.net
    vwvortex.com

    Comment


    • #3
      I had a good experience with that same company recently (www.mo-co-so.com). I wanted a barebones kit with that case you mentioned and the D201GLY2. He only had the kit with the D201GLY at the time and he allowed me to pay a small amount more and get the GLY2.

      Came preassembled with M2-ATX pre-wired which was a nice plus. He even threw in a HD Safe Card for free.

      For anyone considering this case, I would highly suggest you go with a SATA drive. While a PATA will fit, it is extremely tight because you need an adapter. The larger IDE cable is also not the best idea for a case this small. If you have no option then get an IDE cable that's rounded instead of flat. I did this to allow better airflow, but its not as good as a SATA cable would have been.

      Another issue I ran into (user error) was with the case. There are two grilled ventilation holes cut out near one end of the case. There is an internal tray with a fan mounted to it that will slide in from either side of the case. I put it in backwards which made the fan on the opposite side from the ventilation holes. This caused it to get pretty warm. Once I realized this, I flipped it around and it runs nice and cool now.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Autockr989 View Post
        Have you experienced any issues with cpu holding 100% when playing video? Most of the time close with audio as well. Sound isn't choppy, just can't do anything else. Very concerning since I feel as if this board can't support simple tasks like playing video and audio at same time? Any ideas?

        I had some problems with CPU usage, but found I didn't care for the internal shared video memory with streetdeck. Modified the case and installed a standalone 256MB video card (geforce fx 5500) and pretty much all the cpu problems are gone now.

        I mentioned to Chris how much better the computer works with the video card, and I think he is now designing a case that can mount one in it. Mine is floating over the motherboard. It's held stationary by the plug.
        My opinion is my own.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Autockr989 View Post
          Have you experienced any issues with cpu holding 100% when playing video? Most of the time close with audio as well. Sound isn't choppy, just can't do anything else. Very concerning since I feel as if this board can't support simple tasks like playing video and audio at same time? Any ideas?
          If my epia M10000 can, then this mboard shouldnt have any problems.

          It should be more than enough, i dont have any graphic card and i never had problems with video playback.
          Here in Portugal we have great weather, lots of brunnets, party a lot,drink a lot....
          http://img138.echo.cx/img138/896/bannerjoshua5dy.jpg

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by danielkh View Post


            Rumor:
            Along with the motherboards going to 128mb shared, I have also heard rumors that the new models will have built in WiFi and built in HQCT!
            Where did you hear that and is there any update on this? I was going to pull the trigger on this motherboard next week, but this might be worth waiting for? Anybody?

            Comment


            • #7
              The wireless can be built in now (along with bluetooth). Not sure on the HQCT or 128mb shared, but you could write Chris and ask him about it. mo-co-so.com
              My opinion is my own.

              Comment


              • #8
                I just got off the phone with them. The J7F5 is the enhance board with 128 shared video. HQCT must still be added. They can integrate bluetooth for $10. I'm buying this board next week.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You are going with integrated wireless too, right? One other thing I found when I started integrating the system......not enough USB ports, even though this board has more than the usual.

                  On the board, it can handle another riser (another 2 ports). See if Chris has an extra riser laying around he can throw in the box. Right now, I use the 2 main usb ports, bluetooth/wireless on 2 internal ports, 4 ports coming out as 2 risers, and another 4 ports using PCMCIA card (don't think that is list in my specs as it is kinda new) for a total of 12 ports.

                  To give you an idea of USB ports needed. This is my system, but will give you an idea....

                  1) DVD drive
                  2) Satellite radio
                  3) GPS receiver
                  4) Hub for external jumpdrives, phone charger, etc.
                  5) EVDO Network device
                  6) IPOD
                  7a) Griffin Powermate
                  7b) Imon Ultrabay (I finally broke down and bought one. Haven't figured out how to mount it yet). This will replace the Griffin once mounted.
                  8) OBDII device
                  9) Andrea USB Microphone
                  10) Soundblaster Live 24 bit External
                  11) Touchscreen
                  12) Bluetooth (internal, but still using a port)
                  13) Wireless (same as above)

                  and if you are going to add it....

                  14) Radio hardware
                  15) Bluetooth phone
                  My opinion is my own.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    good point. I'll need 9

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just a quick question to those that have installed the older version without the power connector (just 3 wires coming out of the case).

                      I bought my carpc from these guys last summer and just got around to actually putting it in the car today (spent alot of time fiddling with it in the house bypassing the m2-atx with a regular ps, loading windows and drivers and configuring).

                      The 3 wire colors are red, black, and white. i assume black is ground, but which is the accessory and power wire? when i hooked it up first i had my stereo going with the key out (wrong way i'm guessing) and then i think i blew a fuse as now my stereo and monitor (also on the acc line) don't work at all. and i lost my install instructions at some point over the last 6 months.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        As long as black is ground, it shouldn't blow fuses either way you might hook up red and white. One is battery and one is ignition. Might want to open the case, see what wires go to what points on the power supply, then go to mo-co-so.com site and somewhere you can download the documentation for the ps. I think it's in the lower left corner of the page.

                        Mine uses 5 wires (Green and Yellow for external 5 volts) so I wouldn't want to say yours is the same.
                        My opinion is my own.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I purchased one of these and everything is working great except for the DVD Drive. I checked it and 5 volts is going to the drive, so it appears the drive is doa.

                          Looks like I will need to contact Chris for a replacement.

                          I have been VERY impressed with their service so far.
                          Scott
                          SatelliteGuys.US

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I also got a PC from these guys but been having a good amount of problems. The USB cable was bad and I am still awaiting a replacement. My power connector was faulty but they sent a new one of them right away. The support was great the first week but I haven't heard much back over the past 5 days. I am still having a ton of trouble with my USB ports on this system. I have the bluetooth and wireless internally installed. I then have the 2 main USB ports and two others installed. I try connecting my DVD drive directly through a 10ft cable and my touchscreen through a powered hub which is directly connected to the PC through a 15ft active USB. All seems fine for a little while until the touchscreen stops working and then I can't read from the DVD drive anymore. So I leave the DVD disconnected and just the GPS and touchscreen connected works fine but then my bluetooth starts acting goofy and won;t always make a connection or I get a terrible signal trying to use the audio gateway. Then if I try to connect my ODBII to my powered hub with my touchscreen, it works until I rev my engine and then my touchscreen disconnects. I have no idea what could be wrong but this PC has caused me some headaches so far. If any of you had similar problems, please let me know and how it can possibly be fixed.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jjakes24 View Post
                              If any of you had similar problems, please let me know and how it can possibly be fixed.
                              Haven't seen anything like that, but it sounds like a possible PSU problem. Might check your voltage out. I run 8 USB ports active and a 7 port powered hub on top of it.
                              My opinion is my own.

                              Comment

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