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  • Tired of buggy software and going use smartphone standalone and JRiver for media play

    I am an older member of the forum but I don't post a lot. That said, I am a EE and understand the magnitude of effort that has gone into front ends like Ride Runner and Centrafuse. I have a lot of respect for the folks that have contributed to those development efforts. My problem is that these products have not matured to the point that they can be simple turn key solutions after years of development. I purchased Centrafuse and played with Ride Runner for years but never was fully successful at integrating my phone over bluetooth and support for navigation software lost its two best packages when Garmin and iGuidance pulled out of the PC market. About a year ago, one of the Centerafuse forum mods told me that the bluetooth integration for smartphones under Windows would never be 100% trouble free.

    I have reached the point where I just want something that works and don't want to put the time into endless tweaking. My day job and family life are demanding enough. Smartphone navigation has gotten so good that I see no problem using it stand alone. Smartphone hands free integration with in dash stereos has gotten very good as well. Going forward, I see myself using a mid level in dash stereo with bluetooth, a smartphone mounted in a cradle, and my car PC relegated to being a media playback device with a large music library. JRiver Media Player has a very nice Theater mode that is touch screen friendly and good in a car environment. This is going to be my solution for now. It also is better for my wife and daughter. They understand these individual pieces of equipment and were never able to understand why I had the problems I had with front end software.

    Has anyone else reached this point of frustration with the mobile PC world and rolled back their expectations?

  • #2
    I found Driveline and have never looked back. Tried RR, bought CF then the upgrade and also Streetdeck. I use copilot, garmin and igo for my navigation, XM,AM/FM/HD, tire pressure system, parking distance front and rear, OBD2, phidgets for relay controls and 8 analog sensors for temp, amp draw, weather with alerts, front side and rear cameras never a problem. Bluetooth phone intregration is ahit and miss but usually works with HTC phones winmo or android. Clockwork has been steadily coding this since 08 and as far as I am concerned it is mature and polished. Give it a try as there is nothing to install just run the exe. Good luck SNO
    Last edited by SNOtwistR; 01-16-2014, 04:05 PM.

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    • #3
      Me. And I love my setup now (see worklog). But as soon as I upgrade my cell phone to a larger screen I will most likely ditch the tablet all together.
      2011 Tacoma Nexus 7 App Radio Install

      1993 Lincoln town car Carputer Project

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by SNOtwistR View Post
        I found Driveline and have never looked back. Tried RR, bought CF then the upgrade and also Streetdeck. I use copilot, garmin and igo for my navigation, XM,AM/FM/HD, tire pressure system, parking distance front and rear, OBD2, phidgets for relay controls and 8 analog sensors for temp, amp draw, weather with alerts, front side and rear cameras never a problem. Bluetooth phone intregration is ahit and miss but usually works with HTC phones winmo or android. Clockwork has been steadily coding this since 08 and as far as I am concerned it is mature and polished. Give it a try as there is nothing to install just run the exe. Good luck SNO
        Thanks for the recommendation. I checked out the screen shots and Driveline looks promising. The one thing I can't determine from the quick look is if it can play flac files. My entire library is ripped in flac format and while I can convert it to mp3 or other formats, I would prefer to just use a copy of my existing music library. I ripped most of it using Media Monkey on a Windows 7 64 bit machine.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Lankin View Post
          Me. And I love my setup now (see worklog). But as soon as I upgrade my cell phone to a larger screen I will most likely ditch the tablet all together.
          I have experimented with my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet but the show stopper for me is sound quality out of the headphone jack is not good enough. I have a quiet car and some high end electronics and speakers. I bought a DAC to plug into the tablet using an adapter and it sounds much better but I can't simultaneously listen to music over the DAC and charge the tablet. I don't know if this is a Samsung thing or general Android problem but the expansion port will not let me connect a device and a charger at the same time.

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          • #6
            I have flac files and play fine in driveline. If you can play the file in windows it will work in driveline. Also depending on where you were viewing the shots of driveline it may be from an older version. SNO

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            • #7
              Im not there yet where you are. I hope it never comes that that point, but I am frustrated quite a bit.

              Generally speaking CF and RR are very good choices, but they arent maintained well enough, especially in the last few years. RR has a solid base, but the plugins are scarce. CF is very buggy, is missing a lot of mandatory features even in the media player and plugins seem to be dying slowly. Both seem to lack ideas of using the strengths of a CarPC and instead just stay on one spot and let the tablets and phones kill them off.
              And of course, as you said, lots of stuff doesnt work properly, even though there are good APIs with SDKs to make it work. I really wish I could program, to change this a bit, but I cant and I dont feel up to the challenge to learn it, because that would include skinning too, which is also pretty hard to master. So I tend to stay the paying supporter instead, but its frustrating to not see much worthwhile supporting anymore.

              Right now I am looking at CES (a German alternative), its very promising and has a pretty motivated and busy developer and user base. Lots of nice ideas like a GPS tracker plugin, etc.

              Driveline doesnt look very appealing to me. Yes, its just the looks. I dont know how well it works, but the UI just looks very cheap to me and there are no skins available that change that look drastically. Thats enough to keep me away.

              Comment


              • #8
                This is a very interesting thread, and highlights some of the problems inherent in this particular market. If I were to summarize, I might conclude:

                I want it to run on whatever hardware I happen to have.
                I want it to be compatible with whatever vehicle I happen to own.
                I want it to be infinitely customizable.
                I want it to look anyway I choose.
                I want to be able to do this without any special knowledge or specific understanding (on my part) of how computers or software work.

                Did I miss anything?

                Of course, this is just a VERY broad generalization of a lot of different threads and comments I've seen over the years. I'm not saying its wrong to want it this way, either. I'm just saying nothing in the real world works like this. If you want a consumer-level appliance, then you have to forego customization and flexibility. If you want a development platform, then you get a steeper learning curve and not as much built-in ease of use. Centrafuse, RR and Driveline all reflect different approaches to achieving a balance between competing priorities. And that's not even taking into account the fact that all of these products are the efforts of maybe one or two people at most. The kinds of resources needed to produce OEM-quality products simply does not exist. At present, this is simply a hobbyist market, with products geared to that demographic.

                I fully agree that we, as a community, need to embrace new ideas, technologies and platforms if we want to continue to moving forward. I know RR has already made a move onto Android, and I think that will be a really good thing for a lot of users. To one extent or another, CF, RR and Driveline already support Win8 tablets, and I can say that Centrafuse is already working on a consumer-oriented product designed exclusively for tablets. While the pace of change may not suit some folks, there is no doubt that change is occurring. I think 2014 is going to be a watershed year for most of the major platforms. Should be a lot of fun.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by VegasGuy View Post
                  This is a very interesting thread, and highlights some of the problems inherent in this particular market. If I were to summarize, I might conclude:

                  I want it to run on whatever hardware I happen to have.
                  I want it to be compatible with whatever vehicle I happen to own.
                  I want it to be infinitely customizable.
                  I want it to look anyway I choose.
                  I want to be able to do this without any special knowledge or specific understanding (on my part) of how computers or software work.

                  Did I miss anything?

                  Of course, this is just a VERY broad generalization of a lot of different threads and comments I've seen over the years. I'm not saying its wrong to want it this way, either. I'm just saying nothing in the real world works like this. If you want a consumer-level appliance, then you have to forego customization and flexibility. If you want a development platform, then you get a steeper learning curve and not as much built-in ease of use. Centrafuse, RR and Driveline all reflect different approaches to achieving a balance between competing priorities. And that's not even taking into account the fact that all of these products are the efforts of maybe one or two people at most. The kinds of resources needed to produce OEM-quality products simply does not exist. At present, this is simply a hobbyist market, with products geared to that demographic.

                  I fully agree that we, as a community, need to embrace new ideas, technologies and platforms if we want to continue to moving forward. I know RR has already made a move onto Android, and I think that will be a really good thing for a lot of users. To one extent or another, CF, RR and Driveline already support Win8 tablets, and I can say that Centrafuse is already working on a consumer-oriented product designed exclusively for tablets. While the pace of change may not suit some folks, there is no doubt that change is occurring. I think 2014 is going to be a watershed year for most of the major platforms. Should be a lot of fun.
                  None of those points fit me.
                  • I will gladly buy hardware components that only work specifically with a software. I have done so in the past and did not regret it.
                  • I dont want it to be compatible with any car I own. I dont have a car PC in every car I own plus you can put a car PC in any car, if you really want to. The software doesnt limit here. Your talent for such modifications is the limit or the money you are willing to give someone to do it for you.
                  • I dont want it to be infinitely customizable, but at least have the features old head units from the 2000s had, plus the usage of the car PC potential. Because otherwise OF COURSE any headunit, phone or tablet is better.
                  • I dont want it to look any way I want. RR, CES, CF and lots of old FE looks are fine, yet a lot different to each other. There is no problem there. Im pretty sure Driveline will turn out with some nice skins too sooner or later, if the people really are that motivated with it.
                  • I dont want to do it without any special knowledge. Everyone who wants a car PC should know that its a lot of work and will always cause you to use a lot of tinkering to get everything to work. And even when everything seems to work a problem might turn up again, which you will have to solve. Thats why "ready to use" car PC systems all have failed miserably, since they suggest to customers that its very easy to put a PC into your car.

                  CF and RR were very close to OEM quality at one point, especially CF, but then it went down the drain some point between 3.1 and 4.0. But nothing is done about them anymore. RR is very solid, there is no denying, but its missing a lot of plugins. Its easy to embed applications into it, which counters that lack quite a lot, but still, there is some essential stuff missing.

                  CF on the other hand feels promising and very polished at the start, but quickly shows that it has become very, VERY buggy, essential basic features have been missing or broken for years and years, even though they were promised repeatedly and people were asked for their input for new features and things to change. Useful plugins are very scarce, while embedding isnt that easy and often just impossible to do while keeping stability.

                  You need to understand where car PC people are coming from. If tablets and phones would be the ultimate solution, everyone would use them already, hell, even some headunits have had such functionalities for years. But the fact of the matter is that car PC people want more than that, and they wont like it if their software concentrates on closed and restricted mainstream products instead, since car PCs and their functionality were never closed or mainstream because mainstream wont offer everything a car PC can offer.

                  What I dont understand is why people want to go there in any case. Phones and tablets in itself are very easy to control in a car already without a FE and car manufacturers are already starting to implement control of those devices via their OEM screens and controllers, making frontends obsolete in that case, and I am willing to bet that you will actually start seeing apps for exactly that from car manufacturers for Android, Windows (Phone) 8 and iOS, so the only market for a frontend will be old cars, which puts frontends back to enthusiasts and ultimately to car PCs. Another point is, that there are already lots and lots of good frontends for car use for phones and tablets!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gullimonster View Post
                    None of those points fit me.
                    • I will gladly buy hardware components that only work specifically with a software. I have done so in the past and did not regret it.
                    • I dont want it to be compatible with any car I own. I dont have a car PC in every car I own plus you can put a car PC in any car, if you really want to. The software doesnt limit here. Your talent for such modifications is the limit or the money you are willing to give someone to do it for you.
                    • I dont want it to be infinitely customizable, but at least have the features old head units from the 2000s had, plus the usage of the car PC potential. Because otherwise OF COURSE any headunit, phone or tablet is better.
                    • I dont want it to look any way I want. RR, CES, CF and lots of old FE looks are fine, yet a lot different to each other. There is no problem there. Im pretty sure Driveline will turn out with some nice skins too sooner or later, if the people really are that motivated with it.
                    • I dont want to do it without any special knowledge. Everyone who wants a car PC should know that its a lot of work and will always cause you to use a lot of tinkering to get everything to work. And even when everything seems to work a problem might turn up again, which you will have to solve. Thats why "ready to use" car PC systems all have failed miserably, since they suggest to customers that its very easy to put a PC into your car.
                    ...
                    Well, I don't want this to devolve into some kind of overly generalize rant, so I'll just say thanks for the input.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'll be very specific.

                      1. I am very committed to the Car PC & I didn't just throw it in my truck, I spent a lot of time on it, proof is in my work log.

                      2. I bought CF and had software issues that I wasn't prepared for, maybe my ignorance at the time, maybe not. I was of the believe that if something is available for free and a similar product is $100, the one paid for will work infinitely better, again, maybe my ignorance at the time.

                      3. If CF or RR offered a hardware list and an DVD/download image of windows loaded with their FE configured fro that hardware, I would have bought the approved hardware and the image. If the base image only had music player, Sat Radio, HD radio, and maybe a way of installing the map software of my choice, I would have been fine with that. BT would be a bonus, I understand the issues there. Then I could tinker with adding plugins etc and if I f'd it up (which is highly likely) I could go back to the base image and at least have the base functionality of a decent head unit any time I was tired of trying to fix the software.

                      4. I am far from a genius with software/coding but that does not diminish my love for a car PC, I am not a cheap skate but I don't like throwing money into the wind either. I think we may underestimate how many people there are like me that maybe dropped $1K+ on a touchscreen head unit and was disappointed or almost did and decided to go this route instead.

                      I believe there are both markets, the guy that wants to tinker and spend very little as a hobby and the guy that enjoys the hobby aspect of it but will pay to make sure it works, that is the guy that IMO, has not been addressed by the current available solutions. CF should have addressed this guy long ago, IMO, leave RR for the guy that wants to tinker and instead provide an almost turnkey solution for the guy that wants to spend the $$ for something pretty much guaranteed to work. Heck, that guy spent $100 just on FE software now, isn't that proof enough that he exists?

                      This is the guy that is in many cases, heading for the tablet/smartphone solution right now. Effectively, he is buying a prescribed hardware list ( the tablet) with a guaranteed working OS. The FE of the tablet may not be ideal in a mobile environment but at least it works everyday.
                      My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        PhilG@

                        First off, a disclaimer: Despite my big blue avatar, the views express here are those of the author, and do not reflect the position of Centrafuse Inc, official or otherwise. I have my own forum to be all "official" and stuff.

                        You are 100% correct that when you pay for software, you have a reasonable expectation of support. CF and RR were around long before I ever got involved in the hobby, so the way things are was already well-established, and its not my place to comment. But I will comment about "getting what you pay for" and the idea behind packaging CF or RR as an all-in-one solution.

                        All software, regardless of manufacturer, is sold "As-Is". Read the EULA on Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop or any other product you care to name. No claim is made that the software will or won't do anything, up to and including destroying all your data or causing your PC to burst into flames. A bunch of lawyer speak designed to protect them from lawsuits. But in general, they make a good faith effort to do what they claim. Some better than others. And many, including Centrafuse, let you use the entire product, without restriction, for a period of time so you can see for yourself how it works. On your own hardware, and limited only by your own abilities. This isn't specific to you, but I really don't understand how somebody could actually test a product for 30 days, purchase it, then complain that it doesn't meet their requirements or live up to their expectations. What were they doing for the 30 days? If they weren't able to get it installed, or weren't able to get it to do the things they wanted in the way they wanted, shouldn't that have been a clue? Maybe they were in over their heads, or maybe the product wasn't right for their project? As for whether a paid product should be infinitely better than a free product, define better. Better looking? Better plugins? Better install process? Better means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. As the provider, you try to make it as good as you can, then hope that the public and your customers recognize the value. Some do, and some don't.

                        As for the "all-in-one" solution, whether as a hardware product or an ISO, the answer is economics. It is just not economically feasible for a company the size of Centrafuse to do this. If you write a check to CF for an AIO hardware package that includes CF (whether in PC form or on a tablet), CF is now in the hardware business. It doesn't matter that we didn't design it or build it, all that matters is that we took your money for it. So we have to support it. Same with an ISO image of Windows and CF. Not only would we have to charge a BUNCH more for the product, but we'd STILL be on the hook for the hardware, since the ISO would of necessity be tied to a specific platform. If I tell you that you have to go buy something, and that something doesn't work, who are you going to blame (see Craig Brass DVB radio fiasco for a specific example).

                        I've said it before, so I'll say it again: The "problem" with RR, Centrafuse, certainly OM and to a lesser extent Driveline is their attempt to be all things to all people. It's a cliché, but its true... "Jack of all trades, master of none". The technology to build a product that is infinitely flexible and configurable while still being easy to use and totally reliable on a very wide variety of platforms doesn't exists. And it certainly didn't exist back in 2006 when most of these products were being born. As greater capabilities become available, the products are hamstrung by the need to protect backwards compatibility... don't break what you already have. CF paid a VERY heavy price for attempting to break from the past with CF3/4, and to a certain extent, still does.

                        But ultimately, I agree with the general gist of this thread, and I think everyone gets it: It's still too hard, and too unreliable. Folks expect stuff to "just work" especially if they're paying for it. (CF hat on) Expect to see changes this year as we address this problem head on.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by VegasGuy View Post
                          This is a very interesting thread, and highlights some of the problems inherent in this particular market. If I were to summarize, I might conclude:

                          I want it to run on whatever hardware I happen to have.
                          I want it to be compatible with whatever vehicle I happen to own.
                          I want it to be infinitely customizable.
                          I want it to look anyway I choose.
                          I want to be able to do this without any special knowledge or specific understanding (on my part) of how computers or software work.

                          Did I miss anything?

                          Of course, this is just a VERY broad generalization of a lot of different threads and comments I've seen over the years. I'm not saying its wrong to want it this way, either. I'm just saying nothing in the real world works like this. If you want a consumer-level appliance, then you have to forego customization and flexibility. If you want a development platform, then you get a steeper learning curve and not as much built-in ease of use. Centrafuse, RR and Driveline all reflect different approaches to achieving a balance between competing priorities. And that's not even taking into account the fact that all of these products are the efforts of maybe one or two people at most. The kinds of resources needed to produce OEM-quality products simply does not exist. At present, this is simply a hobbyist market, with products geared to that demographic.

                          I fully agree that we, as a community, need to embrace new ideas, technologies and platforms if we want to continue to moving forward. I know RR has already made a move onto Android, and I think that will be a really good thing for a lot of users. To one extent or another, CF, RR and Driveline already support Win8 tablets, and I can say that Centrafuse is already working on a consumer-oriented product designed exclusively for tablets. While the pace of change may not suit some folks, there is no doubt that change is occurring. I think 2014 is going to be a watershed year for most of the major platforms. Should be a lot of fun.
                          Your 'I wants' come close to what I wish for but I don't mind requiring special knowledge to set it up. I don't mind tinkering if it is productive. I do want it to be intuitive and easy to use for non-technical folks once it is set up. I look forward to 2014 if change is coming. I won't give up if change is coming and I do not mind paying for innovation if it works. I don't regret paying for Centrafuse but I have just reached a point where it does not meet my needs, I don't want to keep dealing with the buggy bluetooth phone integration, and some consumer oriented head units provide a better solution for now.

                          The one thing I really wish for that still seems to be lacking, is genuine sound quality features that allow the integration of a car PC with high quality mobile audio equipment. An example of this is the ability to control multiple audio sources through some kind of PC controlled switching device that has a good solid preamp output signal with low distortion. Using external DACs with a car PC and an aftermarket signal processor with optical inputs is a decent solution for now but I would love to see something that lets me integrate an HD radio tuner. The existing solution falls a bit short of my desire. I know I represent a minority of the car PC community but I can always dream.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            To throw it in here, VegasGuy, 30 days is nothing when putting up a car PC from scratch. People dont always have time to test everything properly in those 30 days, and as I said CF looks very nice at first and even second gaze, so people just buy it. I also dont think many will really start setting everything up the way they want, until they have that software bought and paid for. Not to mention that CF was very stable at some point (when I started with it). It got worse and worse, but still I stuck with it for a long time, because I had hope and many promises were made, are still being made over and over and I still catch myself believing in them blindly every time. Customers were asked for feature requests and other input, updates were made more or less frequently. I dont know if I am kidding myself with that hope, but I paid for it twice and for many plugins and refuse to just give up on it so easily.

                            Again, I dont agree with you on saying that CF was never close to "completion", and is a jack of all trades, master of none. It was very good and stable at some point. There were only a few feature requests left, but they were never seriously considered by the developers. Instead other stuff that nobody really needed or wanted was implemented or changed and the bugs started to take overhand. I mean when I freshly install it today, literally the first thing I am greeted with is a bug. 5 mins later I discovered 5 more very obvious bugs. And youre overwhelmed by them once you have used your car a day or two. Permanent use is often impossible right now because of that, unless you really have a very high tolerance. For example my screen for whatever reason simply loses all or some buttons randomly after the PC went through a few standby cycles. Files are sometimes being corrupted by standby modes so that hotkeys wont work anymore or CF just ceases to work completely. Those problems have been reported very often by many different people, who even tried to help actively identifying them. They were never fixed completely.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PhilG View Post

                              This is the guy that is in many cases, heading for the tablet/smartphone solution right now. Effectively, he is buying a prescribed hardware list ( the tablet) with a guaranteed working OS. The FE of the tablet may not be ideal in a mobile environment but at least it works everyday.
                              I have already tried this path and it is amazingly close to being a good solution. Power Amp is a very good music player, Google Maps has been great with the exception of a buggy release a few months ago, and hands free phone integration should be possible although I have not tried that yet with my tablets. The biggest hurdle I find is not being able to connect both a charging cable and and external USB device at the same time with any of my Samsung tablets or Galaxy S4 mobile phone. The Samsung tablets really need a quality external DAC and I can't do that and charge it simultaneously with any of the adapters I have tried. I find it interesting that RR and Centrafuse are investigating Android. If they do, I hope they take this situation into account. If there is an Android platform that overcomes the hardware limitation regarding USB devices and charging, perhaps all RR and Centrafuse have to do is integrate already good apps into a user interface that works well in the mobile environment. I know it is easier said than done but I would pay for a solution like this.

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