Then there are people like me - technically inclined but not engineers.
I'd happily pay the $100 for Centrafuse - if it worked properly.
RoadRunner is a front end designed by geeks for geeks. I mean that nicely. It's designed for people who want to fiddle. That's fine, there are plenty of people who want to fiddle. I don't. And I also don't want to spend money on something that isn't well supported. Hence why sticking a Tomtom on my dash is a darn good option at this point.
I'm also disappointed in the difference in quality of components available for this hobby. Granted most of them are developed by community members with limited resources, but there's still a staggering difference in assembly quality, reliability and ruggedness between car PC parts and OEM components. Nearly every one of us takes our screen apart to mount it in the dash somehow. The bybyte double DIN frame is good in concept, but it's the flimsiest assembly I've seen.
What's driving me away from this hobby is the lack of quality hardware and software.
Unfortunately I don't think there is that much money in the hardware and software. The car pc world is very diverse. If you get solid solutions that work for enough people to make it worth developing... you get a Pioneer Avic series unit.
It has cost me $100's and hours of time to develop my own micro controller and vb software to interface with RR that will do all sorts of stuff. I'm sure other people would be interested but probably only 5 to 10. At that point, the price point would be so huge nobody could afford it. This hobby IS for geeks... truth is the truth. Only reason I'm doing it is cause I can. This is in no way cost effective. I have to NOT look at dollars and time spent while I do it as the value would be astronomical. I just am filling that need for a fun project with bragging rights.
Like I said, I think you will see this "industry" move more towards all in one tablet/phone solutions as the majority and have a few stragglers who still run full systems for the reason that they can.
I noticed a huge change when I came back last year to research a new, more current install. Not much activity, much less development and since the forum activity has dropped less reliability to get a consensus on current changing or new stuff. Last week someone posted that iGuidance may not be available much longer which is a sad sign of things that may come. I think the reason is car companies are getting much better at infotainment and smartphones/tablets are also offering much more than 2-3 years ago. There are still short falls, but there are LESS of them.
I also tried to go the other route and did not like the limitations and expense. Once you can truly start your car, your smartphone connects and mirrors to a larger screen and you can add peripherals, I can not see the carputer lasting in its current form. Until then for me, storage size, customization, sound quality is what made me come back and I will keep coming back until something better comes along.
I think both dmcdlrn and zip hit the nail on the head. There's just no money in developing either hardware or software for the car computer community. I've gone the same route, I've spent hours upon hours, and several thousand dollars on my car computer setup. Custom microcontrollers, single board computers, in-dash monitors, the works. Not to mention the hundreds of hours spent writing software for it. And guess what? It's just not useful to anyone but me because it's all application and implementation specific.
Then come Android devices and suddenly the majority of people who want carpc functionality can get it from a tablet. So they all go that route. It works perfectly fine, and they have no need for a huge forum for support since everything in the limited subset of features that they are interested in, just works. Sure, the limitations aren't for some people which is why the forum is still limping along with its small current user base, but it'll be small. That's the nature of the hobby.
The other thing pushing users towards tablets is the massive amount of work required to install a carpc. The all-in-one double din units were a step in the right direction but no company could develop a decent one for under $3,000, yet there are users on the forums doing it for significantly less. So we're stuck with having to piece together carpc units, find places in our vehicles to put all the pieces, and wire them all together as best we can. It's just not for everyone, and there's no money in making it for everyone.
I made a suggestion to one vendor who makes various I/O accessories for carpcs. It was to take the variety of units that he made and combine them into once nicely integrated solution to save space and reduce wiring complexity. I was basically laughed at...
Originally Posted by malcom2073
I think the hobby (and the forums) will adapt to the new changes with smartphones/tablets.
Look at how it all started, in the beginning it was pure custom homegrown devices like small mp3players etc. Then the pc become a platform for the hobby as users started to realize the potential with it and looking at the current trends it will probably change again, but this time towards smartphones/tablets. And I'm sure the people in this hobby will eventually go with the flow and start building stuff with the new tech, which again will trig interest for new users and things will start to grow again.
I think the hobby (and a certain amount of users) will always be around here but working with different tech at different times. But the user's on this forum has always been and will always be the ones who's just can't leave stuff alone!
The forum activity comes and goes. I don't think it has to do with Android or tablets. Look at how small the tablet section of the forum is compared to the rest of the site. I think it has to do with there's not too much else we can incorporate into our projects that hasn't already been discussed. We've been at this a long time so there's not a whole lot we need to know that mp3car hasn't helped us out with before. Don't get me wrong, everyday there are new threads that continue to teach and interest me. And its the reason I still continue to visit mp3car.
It did seem like there was more activity 5-10 years ago because we were breaking new ground and getting our feet wet into the unknown. Now the forum has so much info a quick search can easily answer any question we have up to this point. Check how many users are reading the forum in the afternoon and it could be 100 or it could be 2500. Some days are good and some days are slow. I think mp3car will be ok.
I sure hope not. Considering the legalities of slapping a tablet on the dash a truly integrated car PC really is the only option.
Originally Posted by Borte
In fact, I'd like to see less interest in development for specialized platforms like android because all it does it take development resources away for much more flexible platforms.
as for me, i just brought this up as more of a wake up call. Do we as a group keep on car-puting or do we adapt to the new technologies? i would say that an in dash units that are available are easier to work with but its not for me. I like the car+PC idea. It adds another level of interest in a car to me. keeps the car interesting and different. I personally as a tinkererer... like to mess it with. always finding a new way to do something. well i hope as this winter closes and spring comes in we will see some improved traffic on the site.
everyone ended up here because they thought that the current batch of oem/aftermarket radio's was lacking in some respect, and was looking for a different kind of solution. i don't think that is something that will ever change. many of our needs are not mainstream enough for oem's to integrate them. but the oem's have quickly learned that the am/fm/cd decks with a couple basic speakers no longer sell cars. and i think that the oem's are going to start pushing tech that will continue to rival much of what we do here-- though because they are held to various rules/standards, they will never be able to do some of the things we do here..
overall, the carpc side of this forum is still huge compared to the tablet stuff that has hit the market in the last couple years--and i think it will stay that way. there are many things that the basic tablets will never do, yet in the same respect, they fill the exact needs of a lot of people here that were looking for something easier to install that just wanted some more basic features.. if some new tech comes along that helps many of the needs of this forum, i think those that desire it will embrace it, and it will be added then. but i don't believe there is anything that the forum needs to try to proactively attempt to work at to meet these future, yet-unseen, products..