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Thread: Real Drivesoft Impressions

  1. #1
    ddn is offline
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Post Real Drivesoft Impressions

    Well I took Drivesoft up on their offer of giving a trial to Mp3car members, and I have some legitimate impressions of the software. Way too many people here have been spouting off about how much it sucks without trying it or even knowing what they're talking about. I am very critical, and you can expect an honest review of anything from me.

    Generally the software is clean and fast. Even on a 300Mhz Celeron the interface is extremely quick and snappy. They button layouts are consistent no matter what "mode" you are in. You can almost always click on the usual buttons without looking at the screen to determine what mode it is in. Browsing for mp3s and video is simple and straight-forward. There is an Up/Back/Down button set. Back is obviously, but quite honestly I haven't figured out what Up and Down do that is useful. The software supports FM and XM, but I don't have the hardware to test that out. The interface is consistent though, and should make both easy to use.

    For some reason the EQ just plain doesn't work. Maybe thats one of the features removed for the "Light" version. I would rather have the EQ button removed completely anyway, as I don't think its useful.

    I can't say that I am a huge fan of the deafult skin. It works fine, but buttons are about the right size and the layout is good. The color is awful in my humble opinion. However, skin support looks to be complete and WELL done. No introducing bugs with a skin. That should be an absolute no-no for any developer: skins should not be able to introduce bugs. It looks like there shouldn't be any problem moving buttons or elements around as well. Drivesoft looks to have gotten this right. I recommed they include some nicer looking skins WITH their software, or at least on their web site. At least something generic like a brushed metal. Also, the program should reload itself when you change a skin, you shouldn't have to exit and start it back up. Do that for me. K-Thanks.

    Another gripe I have is not being able to turn off unwanted features on the main screen. For example, there are 2 rows of 6 buttons. In order: XM Radio, FM Radio, MP3 Player, CD Player, Navigation, Mobile Office / TV Tuner, Video Player, DVD Player, Pictures, Win XP, Settings. I could live with about half of those. Trim it down to MP3 Player, Video Player, Navigation, Settings and I would be happy. The main screen would also be less cluttered.

    I also don't like that the default media locations are C:\Music Bank/C:\Video Bank and there doesn't appear to be any way to change that. That said, it looks like a lot of options can bet set in a CONFIG.INI file, and maybe you can change it there as an undocumented feature.

    It really is a pleasure to use with how quick it is. This thread is for Drivesoft impressions, but I have to just say it is significantly faster than any other FE I have tried. They are ALL too slow, and you should not need a 1Ghz CPU to run a FE.

    Another issue is screen size and aspect ratio. Right now their software is setup specifically for 640x480. The skins is written with absolute pixel locations relative to 640x480. Thats fine, and I think software being able to scale with just an option set is asinine. However, they need to consider that 640x480 is not a very popular resolution, and have different skin packages for other resolutions. As a test I scaled the size of one of the main background jpegs to 800x600 and Drivesoft happily grew size to 800. Big points there. Creating a skin for 800x480 should be trivial, and expect me to get started on that.

    The only thing I haven't tested is their Navigation integration, and I'm not even sure what it expects to be embedding. I'll try that at first opportunity.

    One thing that would be nice to have, but is a lot to ask for is an SDK. There is mention of Plug-Ins in the Settings screen, so I'm guessing its half way there. With plug-ins, all those little features that each person wants could be added easily.

    Overall I am VERY impressed with the Drivesoft package. This is the kind of software our community could only hope to develop at this point. It is polished, functional and bug-free (I found ONE in my testing). With commercial backing I can see this being a viable package for in-car computing.

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate HybridMike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Orlando, Florida
    I can comment on one of your "bugs" the EQ doesnt work because drivesoft is built with Windows Media Player as a backend and microsoft does not give access to the dsp through their SDK... even their database is wmp (access db) they will always be limited to what microsoft gives them access to via the SDK.

    its always better to build the software from the ground up, leaving it non dependent on other programs to do all the HARD work. however if time is of the essence, then its a viable solution.

    I have my own impressions of drivesoft, and have dealt with them in the past... we too have talked with Mad Mike, and I can tell you that its not such a match made in heaven as drivesoft would like you to think.... think about it, why do you think Pimp my Ride had TRC on the show? especially if he was a "partner" with drivesoft! He talked with us about being on the program as well... that doesnt mean that we are business partners does it? of course not! Mike Martin is a carPC hobbiest just like us, and sees the ultimate vision that all of us do, and he has the means to bring it to market, he will back behind whoever is the best in his eyes. (this doesnt mean only one either) both Drivesoft and Hybrid were at the 2004 SEMA convention. However I am not going to bash them or talk down on them, the bottom line is: the end user needs a choice... you cant be the only one in any market, what might be right for one person, isnt for someone else, and there are many talented individuals (most of them on this site) that have the ultimate goal of selling tons of software.

    One thing is for sure.... if it were not for them (drivesoft) the market would be far smaller than it is.... just look at the amount of front ends that has pop'ed up in the last 12 months... so for that I thank you


  3. #3
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    nice review but i think i missed the way to get a trial.. i'd like to test it myself
    my destinator map resource down permanently

  4. #4
    Well, He asked for it. WebDog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Los Angeles, CA (West LA)
    just email drive soft asking for a trial.
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    2000 VW Golf TDI 4dr
    2005 VW GTI MKIV - SOLD

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