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Thread: Laptop vs desktop

  1. #1
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    Laptop vs desktop

    I can acrossed this site about a week ago and decided right there and then this is exactly what I'm going to do with my new Mazda 6.

    So I spent the next week reading the overwhelming informations on this site and got a pretty good idea on how things are supposed to work. Now it's time to me to get down and start do all my plannings. Step 1, decide on a machine. It sounds a lot harder than it is. I've seem many laptop based carputers and desktop based carputers and they all have their advantages. So I came back on the site and did a search and surpsied to see that I couldn't find any thread that compares the 2 based carputers.

    I'm starting this thread to get people's input on what you think are the advantages and disadvantages of a laptop based carputer and a desktop based carputer.

    Here's what I think, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Laptop
    pros:
    - small size, easy to find a place to store the laptop carputer
    - light weight, a heavy laptop if prob 7 lbs, much lighter than a avg. 25 lbs steel desktop box. More mileage for your gas, save more in the long run.
    - easy maintenance. pop it, do whatever you need to do on the laptop
    - portable. pop it, take it into starbucks.
    - Less power hungry. Please correct me if i'm wrong.
    - easy power setup. get a laptop car adaptor [thanks rushnrockt]
    - Standby mode. Turn carputer on/off in 3 seconds. [thanks Goddy]

    cons:
    - more expensive startup cost. If you don't have a spear one, it'll cost about 400 to get a decent used one.
    - harder to replace broken parts. If the machine broke due to overheat. It'll be harder to replace and more expensive.
    - No good startup option. (This is bothering me. I havn't found a way to remotely start the laptop. A member with laptop based carputer needs to manually hit the power button. This is the biggest drawback to me. If you have a solution, please share, thanks.)
    - less hard drive space. This is a big one, if you want to load 5000 mp3s + 1000 movies, you will need lots of space. desktop harddrives are big and cheap, laptop HDs are smaller and expensive. (more $$ issue) However, i must point out that most poeple use laptop HDs on their desktop based carputer because they produce less heat.
    - doesn't have a true DC to DC power solution. Need to use a inverter.


    Desktop:
    pros:
    - cheaper startup cost
    - more info on this site because lots members are using desktop based solution
    - integrate well with car's DC power
    - auto startup (although I havn't figure out how, can someone point me to a right direction? thanks)
    - more powerful. 1gHz + is normal. Although I don't see why we need so much process power. We are not ripping DVDs or rendering graphics.
    - more flexable. You can load anything you want onto the PCI slots. However, similar addons are probably available for PCMCIA interface. Plus, we use most external USB devices. (GPS, DVD-rom, sound)
    - easy upgrade options.

    cons:
    - big heavy case. Add dead weight to your car. If you want to go SFF, you'll have to pay extra
    - need to buy a DC to DC power
    - lots of wiring work to hookup power. maybe too difficult for noobies


    As you can probably tell, I'm leanning towards using a laptop based solution. My only problem is the auto startup and get a get sound to my car. I'm looking to get an AUX-in to my HU to hookup sound.

    My goal is to get a functional MP3/divx/DVD/GPS/NAV/Backup Cam carputer up for cheap. I have a old P2 366 which I spent last night installed winxp and configured it to startup in 40 seconds. The suspend time/wake from suspend are about 3 seconds each. I think it's pretty good. The inital 40 sec will force me to wait for my car to warm up at the beginning of the day,the I will take advantage of the suspend function to get my carputer system up in 3 seconds for the rest of the day.

    I'm planning to get a PCMCIA/USB2, USB2 hub and hook up USB sound card to AUX-in and USB DVD player, USB GPS and a USB camera.

    I'm interested to see what you think about this laptop vs desktop discussion. Please also voice you opinion on what you think about my plan. thanks.

  2. #2
    Newbie 8car's Avatar
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    A little wordy aren't ya...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by wei2cool
    Laptop
    pros:
    - light weight, a heavy laptop if prob 7 lbs, much lighter than a avg. 25 lbs steel desktop box. More mileage for your gas, save more in the long run.
    - easy setup. All you need is a inverter. (but a problem if you want DC to DC)

    cons:
    - doesn't have a true DC to DC power solution. Need to use a inverter.
    1) There really isn't any need for a full case weighing 25lbs, SFF or custom made case would do much better.
    2) Nope, don't need an inverter, since there ARE DC-DC solutions that are a hell of a lot smaller than an inverter with standard ac-dc adapter for laptop would be. Check out Belkin or Kensington for starters. So there is absolutely no need to use an inverter.

    Quote Originally Posted by wei2cool
    Desktop:
    pros:
    - integrate well with car's DC power

    cons:
    - big heavy case. Add dead weight to your car. If you want to go SFF, you'll have to pay extra
    - need to buy a DC to DC power
    - lots of wiring work to hookup power. maybe too difficult for noobies
    If it integrated that well with car's DC power, Opus would have more competition and the prices would be a hell of a lot lower. Laptop is better in that respect since it only needs to go from car power to one DC voltage, not several like the desktop.
    And again, the case does not have to be large or heavy.

    PS.
    8car, that was an absolutely useless comment
    I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding.

  4. #4
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    rushnrockt, you are right. I forgot there are 3rd party car power adaptor for laptops. That makes it even easier to intergrate a laptop carputer solution. I think the price is also cheaper to buy that instead of an opus DC power. That's another plus for the laptop and for me.

    8car, that was very informative, thanks.

  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate Goddy's Avatar
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    I have a laptop as carpc, there are a lot pro's more:

    - standby!! wonderful! going to standby within a few seconds and start the carpc where you was within a few seconds without having to boot. It can stay for days on standby with a normal - good powersupply.

    - can have a laptop with broken lcd so very cheap buying it second hand. a standard carpc needs very expensive ac/dc adapter + nonstandard mobo+cpu (mini atx etc.).

    - all you need is good usb support so it can do everything a pc version can do (i admit a bit more limitations, but all you want is there)

  6. #6
    Well, He asked for it. WebDog's Avatar
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    one problem i had using a laptop is that, their is no easy way to make a start up / shutwdown controller work with it.

    Now i have a M10000 in a case i made for $30 (plexi) that is 2"x10"x7" smaller and lighter then the laptop.
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    2000 VW Golf TDI 4dr
    2005 VW GTI MKIV - SOLD

  7. #7
    Constant Bitrate Goddy's Avatar
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    i gently ripped of the standby button, connected two wires on it with needles and got the wires in front of the car with a button. It sounds pretty much work but it isnt and worth a lot when you can use the standby function instead of powering it down and boot.

  8. #8
    Variable Bitrate will1384's Avatar
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    No good startup option. (This is bothering me. I havn't found a way to remotely start the laptop. A member with laptop based carputer needs to manually hit the power button. This is the biggest drawback to me
    I used one years back - solderd wires to the on/off switch in
    the laptop and ran the wires to the front seat - easy if you can solder -
    if you cant dont even try - almost to small to see - worked great
    - and on a lot of laptops there is a switch that works when you
    close the lid - could use that with a relay to you acc - so it would
    go into sleep when your car is not running

    I have a laptop now that I could use if only my LCD would work with
    it - it defaluts to 800x600 75hz - and my old datalux only does
    640x480 60hz - so it just sits here - it is a rebanged
    Via Eden motherboard made for a laptop, its a Compaq 1200 12XL2
    laptop with no lcd of its own - long story - got run over and busted
    the LCD but the laptop still works

    - big heavy case
    they sell small ones

    - less hard drive space. This is a big one, if you want to load 5000 mp3s + 1000 movies, you will need lots of space. desktop harddrives are big and cheap, laptop HDs are smaller and expensive
    Usb 2 IDE Hard Disk adapter, to use reglar hard-disks- and cardbus
    usb 2.0 card to make it fast - or use firewire to be even faster

    more powerful. 1gHz + is normal. Although I don't see why we need so much process power. We are not ripping DVDs or rendering graphics
    700mhz intel P3 is fine even 350mhz intel P2
    or AMD chips if you can power them - but the VIA chips need to be
    faster to do the multimedia bit - there fast at windows things but
    slow at multimedia stuff - ie - a 350mhz intel p2 will play DVD and Divx
    but a 600mhz Via CPU has problems doing it

    - more expensive startup cost. If you don't have a spear one, it'll cost about 400 to get a decent used one.
    If you look, you could
    get one that cost half that, and a new one is not much more than $400

    - lots of wiring work to hookup power. maybe too difficult for noobies
    Its a lot of wires no mater what - make up some
    images using ms paint or such of were the wires go to make it
    easy-er to understand - and easy to install

  9. #9
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    [QUOTE=wei2cool]rushnrockt, you are right. I forgot there are 3rd party car power adaptor for laptops. That makes it even easier to intergrate a laptop carputer solution. I think the price is also cheaper to buy that instead of an opus DC power. That's another plus for the laptop and for me.




    I got a Kensington DC-DC adaptor for about $80 @COMPUSA. It was a universal model , in that it had a fuse looking thing for different voltage needs. If I changed laptops, I could change the voltage to meet my needs.

    I am currently using a convertable/tablet PC as a carputer. I realy like the stylus input. Next best thing to touchscreen.

    One thing I have discovered (which many of you surely already know), is that I had trouble with an external harddrive, when powering it from the vehicles cicarette lighter socket. It kept stuttering when streaming MP3 files. I hooked up an aftermarket 12V socket assembly directly to the battery, and got rid of the problem.

    Good post wei2cool....from someone else very new at this too.

    thanx to experienced members for not making newbies feel like dumbies.

    ROCK ON!!

  10. #10
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    mrshelf

    can you elaborate more on how you run the power directly from the car battery to the external HD? I forget to include that part into my planning, and it seems to be a pretty important one.

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