Good alternatives to conventional CarPC's
I'm usually just a lurker in these threads. I'm trying to learn more about the different front-ends, but you finally hit upon a subject I'm familiar with. I have built over half dozen custon installations of tablet PC for several people and the main reason for the selection of the tablet is transportability for most. Personnally I have had every Fujitsu from the 1200 to the 4400. (Currently prefer the 3500 in my cars). Many of these installations are for less than expert computerists that need the tablets out of the vehicle to sit down and develop routes. A couple live in bad neighborhoods and want to remove the temptation from would-be passers-by, and lastly for me, I use the same tablet in all four of my cars - one computer, four mini docks and assundr peripherals - lots cheaper than 4 carputers. And since I travel extensively, sometimes I need to run my system in a rental car - same tablet with USB GPS, auto adapter, and cassette adapter.
I also like the idea of being able to tacke the tablet out of the car and into my classes and take paperless notes. I even have the bluetooth, 802.11, and sprintcard for network and internet. What other computer do I really need. I was dissappointed with Fujitsu when the got rid of the line in since the 2300 but have developed worarounds for most issues. Working right now on getting my PPC tied into it for handsfree phone usage through the tablet mic and speakers.
You talk about a low cost solution, I've looked at many of the installations pictured on these forums and I will admit I'm not into 1000W stereos and xbox/playstation integration for car shows and the like, but I'd match my installation cost against any other and when you compare the features a tablet PC is easier to instal and maintain and allows for other usses as well. Its all a matter of priorities.
Written on my Tablet PC while watching the sunset from my pool lounger (beer in hand) using long range 802.11 card and no wires .
I have a carcomputer now, but like the idea of putting a tablet pc in there. Do they make any tablet pc mounts that can be mounted in a car, so the pc can be removed easily. I don't want to have to plug in everything everytime I take the tablet out. And if something like a car docking station exists, are they real expensive and only available with certain models? Thanks
Yes. I'm using an old Fujitsu 3500 with an exceptional portable dock. All my peripherals (GPS, DVD, Joystick, Cell Phone, Camera) are USB and I have a 4 port mini hub stashed away in the dash. This means I have to use the internal sound card, but I'm researching the Creative Lab external sound card to eliminate the one wire I have to connect and disconnect from the actual tablet - Mic (radio/TV) cause Fujitsu stoped putting line in sockets in their mini docks after the 2300 series. There's someone here on mp3car with a 2300 mounted in dash in his truck.
Several other tablet makers have minidocks although not necessarily for vehicle installations. Toshiba has the best one (a solid dock with all the necessary connections), Gateway had a good one last year, someone has one that can allow the screen to rotate, and there are more. Problem is, more and more of the newer tablets are HIGH DOLLAR, use XP Tablet Edition (no more finger poking on the screen - must use electric pen), and are getting away from decent peripheral support (like the lack of a line in on the docks). Many expect you to only use firewire or USB peripherals or provide a USB port replicator that doesn't provide a mount for the tablet.
$2 grand for a tablet and another $300 bucks for each dock is over the top for me. I've only got $600 invested for all four cars.
Try searching the major tablet pc manufacturers and then check the accessories available. The list of vehicle mountable tablets isn't long, until you start looking at discontinued models that are still supported. Then it's all a matter of personal preference.