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Thread: What features would you like to see CarPC hardware have?

  1. #11
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    VegasGuy's Avatar
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    Much as I might quibble with his characterization of CF developers, I find myself in agreement with RipplingHurst.

    This Link is what you get for $310. There is no way on earth you can match that price with those features in a full-on carPC. THAT is what 80% of the market buys. Maybe 5% buys the kinds of toys we're playing with.

    If you came up with a 2DIN package that did all that AND had the ports and connections of a standard PC and a normal OS (I don't care what, it can be changed) for around $400-500, I might buy it. Not sure where I'd put it, but I would be interested. Come up with a complete PC/audio/video solution for around $5000-7000, and I won't be buying it, but I'd bet you WOULD sell a bunch to top-line tuners and aftermarket types. I think RH is right on the money with that observation.

    Cheers!

    VegasGuy

  2. #12
    Constant Bitrate simplex's Avatar
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    Sound card with 4.1 RCA 6V outputs, shielded from the rest of the pc.

    2 headphone out, and 2 VGA out for the kids on the backseat, so I can see and hear GPS,
    while kids are watching Shrek n+1
    (I don't have kids, but I'm planning an install for one of my friends too)

    Cheap capacitive touchscreen, with LED backlight TFT (TFT is cheap, LEDs are cheap,
    I bought a 9" capacitive touchscreen for ~$40, so what costs $700 in a 7" screen?)

    I think Bluetooth, GPS, FM, WiFi, GPRS are better when external USB, for many reasons.
    You can power on an USB device anytime when you need it, but if you disabled Bluetooth
    in the BIOS, it's a bit difficult to turn it on without restart. With too many integrated devices,
    the boot time will be slow as hell.

    Integrated wifi (like on the Zotac board) has no point in a carpc, on the rare occasions when
    you want to use it, you can just connect an usb wifi dongle.
    Check my worklog:
    Corsa + Atom + Gentoo Linux + 9" capacitive touchscreen

    Lord of the boards: DFI CP100-NRM

    "Or you can try Ubuntu, but than don't tell everyone you are using linux,
    because it's just a secret unreleased prebeta of Windows 3829" :P

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplex View Post
    Cheap capacitive touchscreen, with LED backlight TFT (TFT is cheap, LEDs are cheap, ....... I think Bluetooth, GPS, FM, WiFi, GPRS are better when external USB, for many reasons.
    ... ...... Integrated wifi (like on the Zotac board) has no point in a carpc, on the rare occasions when
    you want to use it, you can just connect an usb wifi dongle.

    I strongly disagree with you, and this points out why you won't be able to cater to the 80% market. 80% of the people won't be able to agree on what they want, so they'll either have to suck it up and use USB dongles for things like wifi, bluetooth, fm, etc (Which begs the question, wtf is the point of an all-in-one at that point), or they'll be stuck with 10 features they don't need, and didn't need to pay for.

    If you could make it modular enough to let people select features they want, while still remaining competitive with the $300-$400 chinese units... then you might have a chance. Otherwise you're going to wind up with another Guru.


    On a side note, whatever you do, don't go capacitive. I LOVE being able to use a stylus on my screen.
    "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
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  4. #14
    Constant Bitrate 4ofakind's Avatar
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    Voice control!!!!!
    Hands Free control!!!
    Oh yeah, VOICE CONTROL !!!


    That is all.

    Mal

  5. #15
    Constant Bitrate simplex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by malcom2073 View Post
    I strongly disagree with you, and this points out why you won't be able to cater to the 80% market. 80% of the people won't be able to agree on what they want, so they'll either have to suck it up and use USB dongles for things like wifi, bluetooth, fm, etc (Which begs the question, wtf is the point of an all-in-one at that point), or they'll be stuck with 10 features they don't need, and didn't need to pay for.

    If you could make it modular enough to let people select features they want, while still remaining competitive with the $300-$400 chinese units... then you might have a chance. Otherwise you're going to wind up with another Guru.
    An usb device seems modular enough for me Also, external GPS and FM aerial has better signal.
    But yes, a general solution will always suffer from something.

    Quote Originally Posted by malcom2073 View Post
    On a side note, whatever you do, don't go capacitive. I LOVE being able to use a stylus on my screen.
    I think buttons are big enough for my fingers on a double-din touchscreen. Also,
    capacitive touchscreen is generally more durable, has better sunlight readability,
    and more sensitive. Not to mention multitouch functionality.

    Also, one personal option: I'm left handed, so I can't really benefit from a stylus.
    Check my worklog:
    Corsa + Atom + Gentoo Linux + 9" capacitive touchscreen

    Lord of the boards: DFI CP100-NRM

    "Or you can try Ubuntu, but than don't tell everyone you are using linux,
    because it's just a secret unreleased prebeta of Windows 3829" :P

  6. #16
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    @RipplingHurst:
    Great points! I think our goal is going to be features above and beyond what an alpine unit would provide for a price that would rival the bottom end units.

    That said I think alot of members here are too used to traditional carPC systems, which are full computers running full windows operating systems. These devices will be embedded devices, with embedded operating systems and will be much more stable and consumer oriented then the devices seen here.

    VegasGuy interesting link and you are dead on with the market with the one exception that people tend to pay more for brand name devices then the chinese knock-offs (look at how under featured a garmin unit is and how many they sell). Most likely we are looking at an arm/linux based external unit and an atom/windown embedded based in-dash unit. The current design for the double din unit has one front usb port, two rear usb ports and a dual audio/video zones. Hopefully this has the best balance to satisfy most consumers needs, while still allowing easy scalability to achieve just about anything.

    simplex:
    Your thinking in terms of your needs more then the average consumer. On top of that, FM will always have a better signal when internal and using the cars antenna. Same things for GPS and an external antenna (or the car's built in). Capacitive touchscreens (at least last i heard) were rarely used in-car due to their performance in colder temperatures but the external unit will have a capacitive screen.

    4ofakind:
    Thats the main feature that will set this unit apart...right now its guaranteed to be included in the double din unit but were still working on a way for the external (it may not be possible for the price range were aiming for).

    malcom2073:
    Yea price is everything... most consumers will want hd radio, traffic and bluetooth in car but how many will want/be willing to pay for/use wifi, gprs, mobile tv, a second zone, etc. These are the tough questions to get through and one of the main reasons I am looking for input not just in the carPC community.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by justchat_1 View Post
    @RipplingHurst:
    Great points! I think our goal is going to be features above and beyond what an alpine unit would provide for a price that would rival the bottom end units.

    simplex:
    Your thinking in terms of your needs more then the average consumer. On top of that, FM will always have a better signal when internal and using the cars antenna. Same things for GPS and an external antenna (or the car's built in). Capacitive touchscreens (at least last i heard) were rarely used in-car due to their performance in colder temperatures but the external unit will have a capacitive screen.

    4ofakind:
    Thats the main feature that will set this unit apart...right now its guaranteed to be included in the double din unit but were still working on a way for the external (it may not be possible for the price range were aiming for).

    malcom2073:
    Yea price is everything... most consumers will want hd radio, traffic and bluetooth in car but how many will want/be willing to pay for/use wifi, gprs, mobile tv, a second zone, etc. These are the tough questions to get through and one of the main reasons I am looking for input not just in the carPC community.
    I think bluetooth covers your internet needs (no Wifi, no gprs). For the most part, you can tether cell phones via bluetooth to get internet, and if your device did this, you could kill wifi and gprs built in. Mobile TV... meh. Could be nice for passengers, but I never really found that we travel enough to warrant the cost. I would think 90%+ of the installs would be head-unit only anyway.

    My Feature list:
    - HD Radio, AM radio (for sports mostly)
    - Media Player (Audio mostly)
    - Nav + Traffic
    - Bluetooth (for phone control and internet tether)
    - At least 60+GB free disk space (Solid state preferred)
    - Voice/Handsfree would be nice
    - Hardware buttons would be nice for (at least) volume and switching between functions
    - Anything you can do to make install easier is WAY helpful. Adapters to factory harnesses, factory XM, steering wheel controls, etc. The less wiring needed the better, especially if we're talking consumer level installs.

    - Not for me, but I'd imagine that a lot of people would like it if it synced with/downloaded from the ipod/zune.

    I'm sure you've considered it, but to have a 'base' system with some of the basics (media, nav, disk, power, etc), and then having 'add-on' boards/units (Wifi, HD Radio, XM, TV, etc) that plug into the base system would be really nice. Especially if there is ports/room for at least 3-4 of these boards. Of course, this costs more and it might not be worth it, but could be an interesting way to give everyone only the features they want.
    Brian
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  8. #18
    Variable Bitrate mayhembdm666's Avatar
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    Smart Card / Sim Card Security

    Okay one of early designs that i had for a hardware interface/design i managed to get working but never got around to cleaning up the initial design/hardware was a Mobile Security Alerter.

    Using a product i got from DickSmithElectronics going back a few years ago it allowed me to connect an old nokia i had to it. Then using my serial port i could trigger it to send me a SMS when the alarm was triggered along with the GPS coords.

    This of course can be done easily now with a simple mobile phone, as SDK and connection method of bluetooth or cable. But i would like to see a mobile type device that allows you to simply insert a SimCard and have it use the account on there and simply generate a SMS.

    Using this method, You know the second your car alarm has been triggered even if your in town and your car is home or anything like at the mechanics.

    I know people will suggest using a application on the computer it self that can do this via say a online account or using VOIP or something like that to make a phone call...

    But by using something like this you can have it running 24/7 with out the car computer being on and on a reserve battery like most alarm systems. Hence it is virtually fail proof except for bad reception or missing credit/ expired account.

    As the reason for the SMS... You can have it stream you a sms every minute or how ever often you want along with the updated location and makes it possible for you to follow and find the car even after everything has been turned off. Tho it would be good if your able to send commands back to the mobile device like disable car, trigger door locks or anything like that. So if a friend calls you and it was a false trigger then you can reset the alarm easily.

    Adding onto this would be using MMS support along with a camera to send a picture of the person in the driver seat or anything like that.


    Just an idea for the hardcore sparkies out there...?
    2004 Holden WL Caprice Auto GENIII
    Base System = Raspberry Pi
    Everything else is pending for now as switched from a Mini-ITX setup

  9. #19
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    gekko-- while i can see your point(and it would help save some money in manufacturing the units), justchat noted that his target market is mostly consumers-- and most consumers don't know anything about tethering(from how to set it up, to how to get it to work, or even that they can do it)-- which i think might hurt the overall sell-ability of the unit in the consumer market. (i do tech support for computers now, and most people don't know how to change the ip address, or even what a ip address is, how would you explain teathering?)

    i think that the ability to connect with wifi would have a huge advantage over the other consumer grade, double din head units currently offered--the hackers over on the pioneer avic nav unit forums are just getting to this point using a wifi sd card-- and it was viewed as major progress(not to downplay it by any means-- many of them have almost completely reverse engineered the units to do whatever they want)...

    If i were to try to sell this unit to consumers, i think that the major selling points that i would like to see as a sales person/consumer is wifi, gps, dvd/cd playback, music(both being able to add/sync their ipod music, and have a hdd large enough for a decent collection of songs), voice control, bluetooth, and am/fm radio(sat radio would be great, but not required by most).

    the 2 largest features over other brands would be wifi, and the capacity of music storage(most offer little to no room for music storage). most brands, both name brand and off brands, have bluetooth, gps, am/fm, some have voice control(not the cheap ones, but usually the $1000+ ones), and dvd/cd playback..

    then there is price-- if you could get it around $300-500, they would sell great--a typical, decent HU retails for about $150-250--so you are going after the consumers that want more funtionality than the factory HU, or to replace a deck that went out, but are not absolutly serious about audio, or features(like crossovers or preouts, etc...) so what is another couple extra bucks for features that no-one else has or offers?

    But pioneers avic series (some of which offered 30 gb hdds that were mostly filled up with gps data, but you could have a couple albums stored on them, and also had bluetooth and ipod connectivity) usually retails for over $1000, so i wouldn't rule out a price tag of $1000-2000-- i think they would sell slower, but would still sell good.

    The issue with having a price tag around $1000 though, is that you are getting into a higher grade of consumers, that are serious about replacing junky factory equipment--for example, i would never buy a $1000 HU that did not have 5 or 6 channel preouts(4 fullrange speakers and 1 or 2 sub preouts), and user configurable crossovers, or was tough to use/setup...

    my 3 cents(probably about 5 cents more than anyone wanted to hear ).../ranting

  10. #20
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    Thought I'd insert a few cents as well

    I own an avic f-700bt. I got it at rock bottom pricing- $250 (because I worked at Circuit City while they were on their way to the corporate graveyard) or I never would have tried built in navi. I had SO many problems with things glitching, not working as they were supposed to, etc. It seems mostly fixed with the latest firmware, but it took them a long time for an expensive product. Had I paid the standard $600+, I would have taken it back in a heartbeat. I couldn't get the damn thing to even read an 8gb usb thumb drive that was plugged in constantly, even though I had taken pioneer training back in the day that said you could leave a 160gb external plugged in to your hearts content.

    So I guess I'm saying its not always the features, though they will help sell the unit. It has to just plain work, from the get-go, or else it doesn't matter what the features were. It was extra frustrating when I couldn't just dive in myself to try and locate the problem, I had to wait for Pioneer to fix it.

    As for features, I think you are on the right track.
    What I'd think were consumer grade specs:

    GPS, possibly with traffic
    Handsfree phone
    Music Player
    CD slot
    Touch screen
    minimum 30gb HDD
    front USB port
    front 3.5mm port
    maybe front SD port
    Some kind of iPod interface, lets face it, iPod stickers sell products.
    rotary knob for volume, perhaps a couple 'real' buttons

    Things to use to set it apart from competitors:

    Wifi, this would mean you need a browser that doesn't suck to operate on 7" real estate.
    DVD (would have been the next avic up from mine, $200 more retail)
    bigger hard drive- Not everyone has tons of music, but I know I have over 30gb
    Higher resolution screen, the cheap ones always look bad to me
    Universal (maybe multi-tip?) USB Charging cable for phones <- might sound stupid, but I always hated paying 10 bucks for 30 cents worth of usb cable or 'car charger'.

    I might have missed this, but is it aimed for retail store or internet sales? This would more clearly define your main competition, Chinese units or household names. This would also put focus on an intuitive, perfectly functioning software so that it can be demoed at retail vs the Pioneers. People who buy the cheap units would be more willing to suffer some setbacks, since returning e-tail can be a hassle and cost a few bucks.

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