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Thread: Hmm, to Laptop or not to laptop?

  1. #1
    Newbie nitehawk's Avatar
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    Hmm, to Laptop or not to laptop?

    Alright, so I've got a project I'm planning, car PCing a 1965 VW Beetle. I figured since the dash was hacked to fit an aftermarket stereo, I might as well clean it up and get a nice 7" liliput to put in there.

    The question is, I've got a laptop, which is currently what I'm typing on, who's case is falling apart rather quickly. It's got an AMD Athlon Mobile XP 1.5 ghz, and currently has half a gig of ram, which can be bumbed to 1 gig easily. Also only a 30 gig hdd, but again, easily upgradeable.

    The thing I'm wondering about is, because it's such a small car, I'm not sure that I can find a decent mounting spot for the laptop, even stripped down.

    The other thing is, if I dont go with the laptop, I'd be able to build a computer with a switchable 12v powersupply, which I can hook to the ignition...

    Decisions decisions...

    Edit: Whoops, it looks like I posted this in the wrong forum... Can it be moved over to the laptop forum?

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate
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    I built my system around a laptop and I'm very happy with it.

    However, it really depends on how easy/hard it is to wire up a couple of leads to the laptop's power button, so you can use W3bmast3r's power module to turn it on automatically. If that's easy, do it. If that's hard, do it with a different laptop.

  3. #3
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    you should have tons of room in the front, from my experiance they have a decent size trunk in the fornt

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  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate jessekilner's Avatar
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    laptop.. power options are better and way cheaper.(300 watt AC inverter $15) plus you can keep in standby so it's ready instantly everytime. I recomment wiring RCA's to the speaker lines and not hooking audio through the headphnoes jack as it becomes worn and causes popping or loud humm when this happens.

    Just my 2 cents..
    Did it.. Done it... now I got to keep the neighbors kids away!!

  5. #5
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jessekilner View Post
    laptop.. power options are better and way cheaper.(300 watt AC inverter $15) plus you can keep in standby so it's ready instantly everytime. I recomment wiring RCA's to the speaker lines and not hooking audio through the headphnoes jack as it becomes worn and causes popping or loud humm when this happens.

    Just my 2 cents..
    That is a bad choice... Inverter = lousy
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  6. #6
    Variable Bitrate jessekilner's Avatar
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    well can you come up with a $15 18.5V 6.5A solution? I thought of the Carnetix but I just can't see spending it because the interver does fine. Im open to any suggestions..
    I just could'nt justify $150 dollars for power when I got it. I dont get humming.. never worry about battery power draining because it's only on when car is on. (laptop battery keeps it on standby) can use inverter to plug in digital camera to recharge batteries on vacation and as someone else said I could even cook a mean pot roast, or even better the lady can use her curler or straightener if were running late to the grammy's... lousy..thats alil harsh boss
    Did it.. Done it... now I got to keep the neighbors kids away!!

  7. #7
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    I'm having a similar problem deciding whether to use a laptop or build my own carPC. Space is not an issue for me though.

    I've got a 2007 Camry and I know how to remove the stock headunit. I had planned on getting a kit (AUD $100) to convert the headunit space to double-din so I can install a 7" or 8" LCD in there and a slot-loading DVD drive under it. The plan was to install the PC (built inside a former satellite receiver box) under the driver's seat. I'd install a 4-channel amplifier under the passenger's seat. The PC would cost around AUD $300 (taking into account mini-ITX mobo w/ CPU, RAM, HDD, XP) and the amplifier I'm thinking of getting (Kenwood 4x50 RMS) is AUD $190. Then, an LCD (sunlight readable) would cost me nothing less than AUD $400. That brings the total so far to $990. Add cost of amp cabling, PC power cabling, VGA cable, USB hub, peripherals, etc, and total system cost would be around $1100. This would vary according to the cost of the LCD.

    Then I saw the Asus Eee PC 904HA. 8.9" LCD (I could modify the double din kit to accommodate the LCD), 1.6GHz Atom CPU, and pretty much everything I need the PC to have. With the Eee PC, I can install the whole PC in the dash (turn the screen around tho), and attach one of those touchscreen overlay kits. Then all I'd need to worry about is powering it and making sure it doesn't drain the battery. It seems like a sweet option considering this laptop is available atm for under AUD $600. So add price of double din kit: $100, price of cabling, usb hub, etc.: $100, price of amp: $190, price of power-controlling gear for PC: around $100. Total is also around $1100. I would connect my external HDD to the Eee PC cos it already has my movies n music etc.

    My price estimates are probably a bit inflated here and there, but basically, I can't quite decide route to take. The Eee PC will be easier to install (I won't be taking it out of the car at all once it's in there), but it doesn't have much upgradeability. Also, if, after a few years, I decide to put a new system in there, and if the new system is not a laptop, I'd have to pull out the Eee, install an LCD (more cost), and put the system under the seat or trunk or wherever. Then again, after a few years, a new Eee PC or something similar will be available and I could install that.

    The advantages of my original idea (former satellite box) is the flexibility to upgrade CPU, RAM, etc. and installing it somewhere other than the dash means it's easier to access if I need to put something in or take something out. The LCD is also independent of the system, so if I replace the PC after a few years, the LCD can still stay. Also, if I get a new car, I can transfer the system to the new car (even the LCD), whereas with the Eee PC, it might not fit in the new car's dash and I'd have to modify it extensively.

    Argh! What do I do? Bear in mind, I'm trying to avoid unnecessary costs, but I'm also an experienced DIYer and I enjoy a challenge or two.

    Also, I'd like the system to start up as fast as possible and come out of hibernation quickly too. I'm also avoiding modifying any other part of the car at this stage. I don't want to cut holes in stock panels or make custom fibreglass panels.

    Any ideas?!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2k1Toaster View Post
    That is a bad choice... Inverter = lousy
    What makes you say that? I've been running my system with an inverter for about a year now.

    I bought a 12v power supply for my laptop just because it will free up some space, but I haven't installed it yet. It's cold outside and the inverter works very reliably, so it's hard to get motivated to go work on my car.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeeM View Post
    Argh! What do I do? Bear in mind, I'm trying to avoid unnecessary costs, but I'm also an experienced DIYer and I enjoy a challenge or two.
    If the EeePC has a video-out jack, I'd go that route (I did go that route, but with a different laptop). This lets you use a 7" screen, so less modifications to the dash, but with the advantages of a laptop: integrated power management, compact, easy to pull from the car and do administrative stuff sitting on your couch.

  10. #10
    Newbie nitehawk's Avatar
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    Well, in my own case, I've decided against using the laptop. There are a few reasons, namely being reliability. Half the time it's not working, alot of times wont come out of standby (fresh install of windows too), wont connect to wifi's all that often, yada yada yada. Ohh, and it's ugly...

    So I'm going to start saving my pennies and build a pc for the bug, and try my best to make it look like it belongs there...

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