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Thread: The CarPC - How Far Have We Come?

  1. #21
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    VegasGuy's Avatar
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    Well I have 2 cents burning a hole in my pocket....

    I think the carPC hobby/business in general has suffered from a severe identity crisis from it's very inception. It has always attempted to deliver the underliverable: The promise of "virtually" unlimited capabilities/expansion with the convenience and performance of fixed-function hardware devices at a consumer-friendly price. At the start, the benchmark was "all-in-one" units like those from Pioneer, Clarion or the Chinese knockoffs. Lately, its all about iPhones, iPads and Android.

    From a retail consumer perspective, the size of this market will never allow hardware prices to reach a competitive level. There is simple not enough volume to allow for commodity pricing. YES, open source hardware/software "may" prove to be less expensive than an equivelent windows system, but both of them will always be more expensive that a comparable 'all-in-one", and more difficult to install and configure. And what, exactly, are we trying to deliver beyond what is already available? Internet connectivity? Social media access? How many months do you think we have left before Visteon, or Pioneer or Panasonic provides that type of connectivity in a mass-produced head unit? (Hint: zero). OBDII connectivity? Sure, but what percentage of users view that as the single motivating factor in their purchase decision? 1%? 2%?

    My point is this: This hobby is already out on the fringe, so rather than trying to drive towards the middle, we should turn around and head for the edge! iPads, tablets, smartphones and mainstream manufacturers will dominate the middle and there will be no oxygen available for little guys. At the end of the day, we are using general-purpose computing devices. Their (IMO) ultimate superior value is their unlimited potential. If I have the desire, time, talent and money, I can do anything. I am not bound by the marketing/profit/design concerns of Verizon, Samsung or Steve Jobs. If I want to go insane (like HijackZX1) and put a dozen independent screens in my vehicle, Great! If I want the smallest possible footprint and uber-cool open source wizardry, I go the OM/igep route. The thing is, there is no competition from the middle. Nobody is trying to stake out this ground. It is wide open for innovation and experimentation.

    The things that make this hobby fun for me will probably never be available in the mainstream, and the things that make the mainstream attractive will always be cheaper than they are out here on the fringe. Simple economy of scale. I'm comfortable with that. Do I think we can get closer to the "perfect" system. Sure. Do I think 2 people can agree on what "perfect" is without one of them stepping forward to "help" the other understand why his vision is the best? Nope. Will any of them match my idea of perfect? Only if I'm the guy doing the "helping" -VegasGuy

    Best wishes to Heather. As the Irish say....

    “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

  2. #22
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ioi8 View Post
    Thinking about it today, the car pc really has not come very far in terms of practicality and/or usefulness. It still is not a good solution for most people and it still requires lots of technical knowledge in both hardware and software to implement correctly. Below is a listing of what was originally set out from the beginning of the car pc revolution and what really happened...
    It really all depends on what you are using it for. I think for most practical stuff, its easy to find different routes to do what we are trying to do.

    Play digital content
    Playing of digital music/content was always the #1 reason for having a car pc back before MP3 players and MP3 capable headunits became mainstream. Early frontends like Media Engine and Frodo Player did this beautifully and simply. At this point, this is a non-issue except for the fact that newer front-ends seem to overlook this feature and their media players are cumbersome, difficult to search by artist/song/album and can be slow to search your hard drive. Honestly, we might have taken steps backward with this feature.
    I agree, from all the complaints I have seen. It seems CF2 had a OK engine, but CF3 they changed stuff or something was taken out, causing an uproar. Cool thing is, with Car PC, if we don't like something then we change it. We are not stuck on a specific front end or version.

    GPS Navigation
    GPS navigation was a major reason for having a car pc as well. Before just a few years ago, cheap GPS navigation devices didnt exist and it was almost cheaper to build a car pc to offer the same technical abilities as then current hardware offerings. Now with sub $100 navigation devices that do handsfree bluetooth with cell phones, offer connection to the internet for updating of maps and POIs, and cell phones with almost unlimited potential, the car pc has fell way behind in features and capabilities in this area. Software for PCs in this area have slowed down development and Linux has never had a really good software product ever.
    I disagree..... I think Nav on the PC is on par with portable navigation. i will also add that we have added benefits. Say for example people that record their driving. With software we can add GPS location to the video footage and even use GPS to imprint MPH. Not sure if handhelds have this, but we can also set up servers so others can track us, and now SonicExtasy is even changing his Vehicle Maintenance plugin to better use GPS and the ability to get statistics on the car. Destinator was behind, but a map update has been found, and Vegas added the ability to use Google Traffic to give Destinator live traffic routing. Another reason i like the Car PC. We can easily adapt our setups for future needs.

    Increased Safety
    Many early hobbyist thought that adding a car pc would increase vehicle safety. With simple interfaces such as large touchscreen buttons, voice control, and easy to use joysticks, it should increase safety behind the wheel. First hand experience, that is not the case. Skin developers are going for ultra shiny looks that can be difficult to use even when parked, yet alone driving. Voice control still is not perfected and other means of controlling the car pc still have not surfaced. Today's car pcs do not offer anything in the way of offering more safety to the driver or passengers. We have gone leaps and bounds backwards since the onset in this area.
    HUH? I have no issues with my install as far as safety. Maybe its just the skins you are using. I have no issues with remembering what is where on the screen. I also use a SONY RM-X5S control stalk, which makes it even more easy to navigate. As far as voice, it will eventually get there. Remember we are using parts that are meant for a home environment. We are getting closer though. Another issue with voice is that there are so many hardware variations and even car variations. I think if we standardize the hardware, it will be even better.

    As for passengers, my install is radically safe. Each passenger has their own screen, own controls, and what not. The driver has no access to any video content, or stuff that is not driver required. Vis versa for the passengers, they can not do things only the driver should need to access. It all just depends on how you design the setup.

    Car Control
    With a car pc, we should be able to control the car using hardware interfaces. Sure we have made some steps with fusion brain and related products, but using them still required servos, relays, and other external hardware. Also against is that today's cars are infinitely more complex in terms of wiring than 10-15 years ago. Everything is hooked up the the car's multiple computer cores with almost no way to hack or communicate. The car companies have locked down the protocols and will not release how they work. I would say working on a newer car is harder than old cars based on this. While we have not gone backware in this area, the car manufacturers have made the rift even deeper due to their "innovations".
    Your joking right? Of course we are going to have to use servos, relays and what not. We are using these on cars not originally designed to be controlled by a Car PC. What was the point of this paragraph? You cant go out and buy a headunit that can magically control the car either.

    Car Automation
    Same as above, having the car turn on itself in the morning automatically or doing X at Y time falls in the same category. While we have more info and hardware on how to do it, newer cars just make it that much harder.
    So then don't buy a newer car, lol. That is the number one reason I went with a 2003 Dodge Durango. I did research on what I can and can not do with the car. i will say the engine is heavily ECU driven, a lot more then i'd like. I will most likely never ever get a newer car because they are tying to many systems together.


    So while we have made great progress towards front-ends that use plugins and are extensible and cheap car pc hardware that anyone can afford and install, the original goals we wanted to reach are still not met. New developers have gone on different tangents and created solutions to problems that didnt exist or affected a small subset of people. Hardware exists, but isnt expandable or doesnt fit everyone's needs. Car pcs are more a distraction than ever before.
    This hobby has always been for a select few and always will be for a select few. If you ever had ideas of it becoming mainstream then all I can say that who ever thought that is pretty delusional. Isn't expandable? I think you have tunnel vision. Go into everyones work log and see what they are doing. My setup is pretty expandable, infact it has expanded. Lets see a newer car with a system be expandable without having to pay a dealer to do it. Even worse they just tell you it isn't possible.

    We are farther away then ever before and I do not think we will ever bridge the gap as a hobbyist community. It just may require the intervention of the car companies or some other large corporation to complete the gap and bring car pcs to the masses. When that happens, we have failed, since we were never able to do it alone.
    Wow, I though I was negative. To me it looks like you negative and blind. My guess is that the Car PC failed your expectations and now you are trying to generalize everyone into your failures. No car on the road, will be able to do what mine can do for a long time. I have seen other installs also doing things other cars cant do. Also like the fact that we can tinker with our cars, after all it is a hobby, is a big plus to me. Even if we do fall behind, who cares. As long as we have fun doing it, then its good enough for me. The gap isn't that big like you think, but if you want to think that way, thats fine.

    To each their own.
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  3. #23
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Okay, my take as far as marketability goes.

    Trying to make carpc cheap won't make it to the next decade. It's hard to compete with OEM, headunits and tablets like the iPad.

    So some of you guys are saying the market for carpc is small compared to the general population. Well, how's that say about the sound competition guys? Okay, they're many times bigger than us, but WHY? Loud ground shaking subs, I mean, how stupid is that really, if you think about it?

    What we should want to have is a luxury manufacturer guy approaching a forum like this for solution (I think CF developed something for McLaren?). It should be cool, not for rice mods, but for modders like Brabus and the like. Quality and function, NOT for car control (you can control everything in a luxury car btw), but home automation link, calendar, remote yatch/airplane obd/maintenance/monitoring, etc. Crazy media features, maybe combining the bandwidth of 3 or more phones/cards, etc.

    That would be cool to show in SEMA, Frankfurt, or whatever, and it would draw manufacturers to our needs (have you seen how many hardly known Subwoofers are there? And amps? It's absolutely crazy f*ed. But there's a market for 5000W system in a car, why not for a ultra high end ultra expensive carPC?)

    We have to gun it to the high end. For that, CarPCs have to be cool, like crazy stupid useless cool. That's where the money's at.

    I think the era of the carpc as a high end headunit/navigation wannabe should be over for the coolness factor to improve and the money to flow in...

  4. #24
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasGuy View Post
    I think the carPC hobby/business in general has suffered from a severe identity crisis from it's very inception. It has always attempted to deliver the underliverable: The promise of "virtually" unlimited capabilities/expansion with the convenience and performance of fixed-function hardware devices at a consumer-friendly price.

    [...]

    From a retail consumer perspective, the size of this market will never allow hardware prices to reach a competitive level. There is simple not enough volume to allow for commodity pricing.

    [...]

    My point is this: This hobby is already out on the fringe, so rather than trying to drive towards the middle, we should turn around and head for the edge!

    [...]
    Their (IMO) ultimate superior value is their unlimited potential. If I have the desire, time, talent and money, I can do anything.
    Agreed 100%

    Great minds think alike!!!

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    Okay, my take as far as marketability goes.

    Trying to make carpc cheap won't make it to the next decade. It's hard to compete with OEM, headunits and tablets like the iPad.

    So some of you guys are saying the market for carpc is small compared to the general population. Well, how's that say about the sound competition guys? Okay, they're many times bigger than us, but WHY? I mean, how stupid is that really, if you think about it?

    What we should want to have is a luxury manufacturer guy approaching a forum like this for solution (I think CF developed something for McLaren?). It should be cool, not for rice mods, but for modders like Brabus and the like. Quality and function, NOT for car control (you can control everything in a luxury car btw), but home automation link, calendar, remote yatch/airplane obd/maintenance/monitoring, etc. Crazy media features, maybe combining the bandwidth of 3 or more phones/cards, etc.

    That would be cool to show in SEMA, Frankfurt, or whatever, and it would draw manufacturers to our needs (have you seen how many hardly known Subwoofers are there? And amps? It's absolutely crazy f*ed. But there's a market for 5000W system in a car, why not for a ultra high end ultra expensive carPC?)

    We have to gun it to the high end. For that, CarPCs have to be cool, like crazy cool.

    I think the era of the carpc as a high end headunit/navigation wannabe should be over for the coolness factor to improve and the money to flow in...
    I think this particular viewpoint has been expressed a couple of times, and not only do I agree with it, I make a fairly nice chunk of change actually doing it. I work with a few limosine companies out of LA and do custom hardware and software integration. In some cases, it's simply doing what many users already do: adding multiple rear screen displays for audio/video playback. In other cases, I integrate custom-designed hardware controllers which manage almost every system onboard: infotainment, lighting (LED pattern, flood, audio-synced), multi-zone HVAC control, partition and window controls, audio and video power management.

    This is kind of my point. If you remove the arbitrary design constraints imposed by so-called "mainstream" solutions, then there's literally no limit to what you can accomplish. Is it something the "average" user can do...or wants to do? Define "average". I suggest that anybody that puts a carPC together and uses it is not an "average" user. And while I fully support the drive to make the software (and to some extent hardware) more reliable, more efficient and less expensive, I personally would never want to sacrifice power, performance or flexibility in order to achieve it. But that's just a personal preference, and I recognize that others may have different priorities.

    I suspect that there's probably room for everyone. For those seeking a lower-cost OEM-like experience, the OM project in conjunction with the various hardware initiatives appears to be making some good progress. And I think there will always be guys at the other extreme, looking for the more sophisticated, custom-built solutions delivering some degree of advanced capability.

    Fun discussion, indeed. I think we should do it again next year.

    VegasGuy

  6. #26
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasGuy View Post
    Fun discussion, indeed. I think we should do it again next year.

    VegasGuy
    And we do know it will come again for sure.
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  7. #27
    Variable Bitrate Wayne613's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    That would be cool to show in SEMA, Frankfurt, or whatever, and it would draw manufacturers to our needs (have you seen how many hardly known Subwoofers are there? And amps? It's absolutely crazy f*ed. But there's a market for 5000W system in a car, why not for a ultra high end ultra expensive carPC?)

    We have to gun it to the high end. For that, CarPCs have to be cool, like crazy stupid useless cool. That's where the money's at.

    I think the era of the carpc as a high end headunit/navigation wannabe should be over for the coolness factor to improve and the money to flow in...
    I personally think this is the best viewpoint I've seen so far for this "it's dying" again thread, many have come and gone since I've been here, and that hasn't been that long.

    I think if genuine "that is so cool that just this can do all of that" at many of these shows which would get the larger wallets involved..Well, it would probably generate more interest than anything else I've seen so far to date. I do wonder if this hasn't already been the case at some of these shows though and it just wasn't pointed out exactly what it actually was, or was glossed over.

    Just keep the girl in the bikini in the foreground, and the guy that actually did it with the glasses, bad-haircut, flannel, and snorting laugh towards the back.
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  8. #28
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne613 View Post
    Just keep the girl in the bikini in the foreground, and the guy that actually did it with the glasses, bad-haircut, flannel, and snorting laugh towards the back.
    I dont wear glasses, I dont have a bad haircut (infact I pay alot for my fades), I only wear solids (mainly black) and I would say my laugh is more like a mass murderer laugh.

    In fact I will say that I think the nerd looks different from the nerds of the past. A lot of the nerds on here are actually hot! So maybe he doesnt have to be in the background, but more holding the bikini model.
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  9. #29
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    You guys are dreaming. Going super crazy high end shrinks the market. Car PC'ers are a cheap lot, mostly. They'd rather build it themselves and quite frequently they're college students strapped for funds.

    Car PC's are not for a mainstream market. They're only for a very select few that are willing to go through the pain and difficulty of assembling the parts, installing the hardware, and configuring the software. Unless something changes in that equation, the market is minuscule.

    That's not going to change.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
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  10. #30
    Self proclaimed spoon feeder TruckinMP3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bugbyte View Post
    SNIP
    Car PC'ers are a cheap lot, mostly.

    SNIP
    Yup, I am an example of cheap a simple install with an OS, winamp (free), No display and no headaches.

    |-|ardware does not have to be expensive to play tunes. Same power_supply for about a decade... Low consumption MB, default audio and only one HD... no other parts.

    Simple is great!
    Last edited by TruckinMP3; 03-09-2011 at 04:05 PM. Reason: optional wiki
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