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

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    justchat_1's Avatar
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    What features would you like to see CarPC hardware have?

    One of my goals at CES was to work on some hardware partnerships for openMobile. As i talked with various manufacturers and PCB designers the same question kept coming up....what features does an aftermarket car-pc need, which would just be cool and which are completely unnecessary? There are two different units currently being designed so well keep the goals for the two separate....one is a double din in dash system the other is a very slim battery powered PND.

    Some example features:
    Wifi
    Bluetooth
    GPRS (cell phone based internet)
    ATSC mobile tuner (US TV)
    AM/FM Radio
    HD Radio
    XM/Sirius Radio
    SSD Hard Drive (how big?)
    FM Transmitter

    I'm looking not just for opinions of those in the carputing community but also average consumers so feel free to ask wives, girlfriends, friends, etc.

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    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    based on what i have seen on these forums, and from what i, and my family members use the most, i would have to say that usb(at least 2-4 ports ), gps, wifi, bluetooth, and am/fm radio, with a 30-40gb hdd would work fine(though the hdd size can vary with the os you use-- vista/win 7 needs about 15 gigs, xp is around 5...), and those features, minus the am/fm reciever, but adding the fm transmitter would be a great feature on the PND...

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    Low Bitrate rtgree01's Avatar
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    I would also suggest some kind of audio switcher/mixer.

    I've got a problem where I have more audio sources than I have inputs. HD Radio, Sirius Radio, and some other input (cell phone, game console, etc) all contribute to having more inputs sources than inputs.

    Ryan

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    for the double-din unit: sunlight readable capacitive screen, some hardware buttons and at least one rotary control, integrated hd am/fm radio, gps, etc. pretty much what's already been listed.
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    Front/Rear/Sub audio preouts.

    This was my biggest decision when I chose what motherboard to use as I already had a 5 channel amp in my car before switching to a carPC. I didn't want to use a USB soundcard so finding a motherboard with onboard audio to support separate output channels for at least 4.1 was a must.

    Most of the 1-DIN and 2-DIN carPCs out there, at best, do only 4 channel for front and rear speakers, but no sub.

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    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    GPRS is absolutely necessary for downloadable content (think My movies, lyrics, news, etc. - all very important if you have passengers). Ability to control multiple screens is a must.

    My wife loves the 2x HTPC I've built, and misses a lot of features she finds there.

    I don't care for AM/FM anymore, I listen a lot to podcasts and Pandora however.

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    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    justchat, could you maybe clarify what market you are looking at going after?

    my parents, and siblings look to me for computer literacy--so anything more than a basic, well thought out, mindless interface(music button plays music, and doesn't have a way to easily get into the music settings, settings are where they can't accidently be changed, etc...) will not work for anyone but me...

    the entire reason i went with a carputer was for audio processing(which a atom processor doesn't do the greatest with...), and web access-- both features that most of my near family/friends have no desire to use...

    so if you were to go after a consumer market in general, then i would tell you not to include audio processing, or any fancy, 'hand-me-the-manual-again' features, like audio processing, or multiple audio outputs, because this will only hurt your sales(there are more than enough reviews on newegg from people that toss a device in the trash because they press a wrong button too many times, or can't figure out how to use a feature...).

    if you want to go after a all-in-one solution that hopefully pleases all of us....well, i don't think that is possible . too many of us want/need specific features for our installs that no-one else wants/needs, for instance: i want audio processing, but want nothing to do with audio switching, gprs connections, or capacitive touch screens (as long as it detects my finger, or a stylus, i don't care how it works...), and the others that have posted, i imagine would not want much to do with audio processing... then there is the computing power-- for audio, i would need something like a pentium dual core or better, but to some others, this is dramatic overkill, and a waste of money and power, and they need nothing more than a atom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SFiorito View Post
    for the double-din unit: sunlight readable capacitive screen, some hardware buttons and at least one rotary control, integrated hd am/fm radio, gps, etc. pretty much what's already been listed.
    heres one of the problems.....we could throw every feature under the sun into the unit and most customers would probably be pleased until they have to pay for it. An $8-$900 phone with everything built in isn't an issue when its subsidized down to $100 for the consumer, but we don't have that luxury. The goal is to include only the features that are necessary/will make the device stand out. Anything else adds cost but may not necessarily add value in the eyes of consumers.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbradshw View Post
    Front/Rear/Sub audio preouts.

    This was my biggest decision when I chose what motherboard to use as I already had a 5 channel amp in my car before switching to a carPC. I didn't want to use a USB soundcard so finding a motherboard with onboard audio to support separate output channels for at least 4.1 was a must.

    Most of the 1-DIN and 2-DIN carPCs out there, at best, do only 4 channel for front and rear speakers, but no sub.
    Excellent suggestion...adding a sub out rca jack would probably be very doable. The other four channels have either RCA or a built in 45x4W amplifier.

    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    GPRS is absolutely necessary for downloadable content (think My movies, lyrics, news, etc. - all very important if you have passengers). Ability to control multiple screens is a must.

    My wife loves the 2x HTPC I've built, and misses a lot of features she finds there.

    I don't care for AM/FM anymore, I listen a lot to podcasts and Pandora however.
    Not sure how many of the PNDs you saw from CES but one of the big features were pandora apps that allowed an iPhone to be used as the internet provider (saving the end user from a separate $50/month internet connection). What do you guys think about the idea of using either a usb dongle for 3G/4G (the My Ford style) or tethering any phone and using that (either bluetooth or usb with PDA Net).
    Quote Originally Posted by soundman98 View Post
    justchat, could you maybe clarify what market you are looking at going after?

    my parents, and siblings look to me for computer literacy--so anything more than a basic, well thought out, mindless interface(music button plays music, and doesn't have a way to easily get into the music settings, settings are where they can't accidently be changed, etc...) will not work for anyone but me...

    the entire reason i went with a carputer was for audio processing(which a atom processor doesn't do the greatest with...), and web access-- both features that most of my near family/friends have no desire to use...

    so if you were to go after a consumer market in general, then i would tell you not to include audio processing, or any fancy, 'hand-me-the-manual-again' features, like audio processing, or multiple audio outputs, because this will only hurt your sales(there are more than enough reviews on newegg from people that toss a device in the trash because they press a wrong button too many times, or can't figure out how to use a feature...).

    if you want to go after a all-in-one solution that hopefully pleases all of us....well, i don't think that is possible . too many of us want/need specific features for our installs that no-one else wants/needs, for instance: i want audio processing, but want nothing to do with audio switching, gprs connections, or capacitive touch screens (as long as it detects my finger, or a stylus, i don't care how it works...), and the others that have posted, i imagine would not want much to do with audio processing... then there is the computing power-- for audio, i would need something like a pentium dual core or better, but to some others, this is dramatic overkill, and a waste of money and power, and they need nothing more than a atom.
    Like a lot of other products, our goal is to target the center 80% of the market. The users who want infotainment, navigation, maybe some cool applications and everything to "just work". Fringe uses like heavy audio processing, alot of channels, massive audio switching, engine tuning, etc. are probably still best left to home built solutions.

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    Hi i'm from Peru, SouthAmerica . Here

    - Am/Fm Receiver would be interesting,
    - also a detachable/motorized screen for accessing
    - an internal DVD drive and
    - for preventing stealing (yeah!).
    - 4 usb (2 back, 2 front) maybe Front SD Card
    - capacity to control another screen.
    - GPRS (by GSM Sim Card)
    - Bluetooth
    - Wifi
    - GPS
    - Intenal 4x40W amplifier

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    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justchat_1 View Post
    heres one of the problems.....we could throw every feature under the sun into the unit and most customers would probably be pleased until they have to pay for it. An $8-$900 phone with everything built in isn't an issue when its subsidized down to $100 for the consumer, but we don't have that luxury. The goal is to include only the features that are necessary/will make the device stand out. Anything else adds cost but may not necessarily add value in the eyes of consumers.

    (...)

    Like a lot of other products, our goal is to target the center 80% of the market. The users who want infotainment, navigation, maybe some cool applications and everything to "just work". Fringe uses like heavy audio processing, alot of channels, massive audio switching, engine tuning, etc. are probably still best left to home built solutions.

    I understand your point there, and I think it makes perfectly good sense. The guys at the CF forum talk about this all the time - specially the beta testers, they seemed to be in love with CF's shortcomings...it won't sell if the developing team spends too much time with, you know, particular needs...It's true that, but maybe up to a point?

    I just want to add that I believe that there is ALSO a lot of money to be had in the upper/niche level market. The risks can be higher, but the margins are much bigger too. Lee Iacocca once famously said that for every Cadillac GM sells, Ford would have to sell 20X Mustangs, and even then they would profit less.

    Granted, it's a niche market. But it's true that there's somebody out there spending money developing turbo kits for Lexus IS-Fs...For every 100 Turbo Civics, I've seen one IS-F with nitro - how much? Don't ask. It doesn't matter.

    These people just want a carputer to be different, to add value, maybe just to put to use money from the last stock trade. I'm not talking about over the top pimping. What exactly will sell I have no idea, of course.

    The guy who can't/don't want to buy an Alpine and ALSO is NOT willing to spend time tinkering with the setup, he won't likely be a happy customer - it's going to be difficult to please. Now sell a system worth N, with a support worth 3X N for 5X N, now that might just work.


    It just need to work reasonably well. They know computers are finicky, so they also want VIP support and they're willing to spend a lot for that.


    Just don't tell their system crashed because it's their fault because, say, they used an unpowered USB hub to connect an external HD - you're better off installing the HD yourself - or sending one with the proper HUB via next day FedEx for free. THAT will make him feel like he got value - that's the kind of thing he gets from the Lexus dealer, for instance, but not from the Toyota.... Got the picture?

    I'm not saying this because I think it's the right time for you to go that route - I'm not expecting you to go by me of course - I'm just saying that I'm HOPING the carpc industry will find such a niche too. It can only grow from that.

    /rant

    Cheers.

    RH

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