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Thread: Tablet PC as a car computer? A few questions.

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate
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    Tablet PC as a car computer? A few questions.

    Greetings,

    I apologize if this has been asked before, but I was interested in how bad this would be.

    I installed a car computer in my wife's car with mixed results. Love having the computer, but I am annoyed by waiting for it to boot before I get music and a few other things. So for my car, I thought I would retain the head unit and have the computer play all its sound through that. I read the section on this website where basically tablets are pretty iffy when used as a car computer, but that concerned Android or iPad style tablets. It seems to me that a tablet PC solves some of those issues, but is it powerful enough?

    I figured I would use some spare parts I have from my wife's install (motherboard, RAM, CPU, HDD), but I wanted a larger screen. I can actually buy a complete tablet PC for less than the cost of a 10.4" screen and it will have a responsive touch screen and take up less space in the car, not to mention, I could remove it and use it elsewhere. So it is very attractive.

    But if I go this route, all I would have is the audio out port on the PC. Would that sound like crap fed into the aux in on a head unit? If I wanted to play a DVD, I presume it isn't possible to get surround sound out of an audio out port, right? I suppose I could get a USB sound card, but I had a real problem with noise when I did this on my wife's car computer. Then there is the thought, can a tablet even play a DVD or will it just glitch?

    What about navigation? There are only 3 USB ports on the tablet I'm considering. Will that be glitchy too? I haven't ever used a tablet.

    I was also thinking about putting a car camera in, for when I go auto crossing. Could it handle that with a USB DVR connected to it?

    It's really hard to resist the attractive price of the table and the perfect size (for my car) but if it is too frustrating to use, I would prefer to build my own, but I've also always wanted a really nice stereo, so I'm unwilling to compromise sound quality by just using some noisy computer interface.

    Would it be a good idea to get a head unit that played DVD's and had navigation to remove the burden from the tablet? If so, do I really need a tablet? I could use some advice here.

    Comments please. Leave the flames for a different poster.

  2. #2
    Constant Bitrate
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    Oh creepy. I just realized the smiley face I used is licking his lips. Ewww.

  3. #3
    Newbie preet's Avatar
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    Hey

    Which tablet device specifically are you referring to? Also, why would devices be 'glitchy' just because you're using a tablet PC? Most modern PCs should be able to play DVDs no problem. The performance of the GPS should only depend on the GPS device and the antenna (if any).
    Check out my Frontend project!
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  4. #4
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    On newegg there is an Asus EE tablet for $449 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16834230032

    And if the hardware isn't fast enough DVD video playback will become glitchy.

  5. #5
    The Last Good Gremlin GizmoQ's Avatar
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    I have 13 devices running off my tablet and 4 open USB ports for mobile accessories (cameras downloads, phone charging, etc). A sufficiently robust tablet PC can do all you require short of 5.1 audio (I have no need for 5.1 in the car). I guess it could be done, though.

    Because I remove my tablet nightly, the first startup in the morning is a cold boot, but for the rest of the day the screen shuts off 1 minute after engine shutdown (automatic instantaneous restart), 1 hour later the system goes into standby (restarts in 45 seconds), 7 hours later it hibernates (restarts in 1 min 15 seconds).

    Be forewarned, a tablet is probably going to require more tweaking (power mgt, software driver install, speed & efficiency/interoperability) than your standard car computer (does that even exist) install. Because I'm continually adding capabilities, modifying automation, changing/updating software and hardware, I'm probably not your best point of reference. But this is a hobby, I'm always improving the system so it's never 100% stable. My personal goal is 90%, i.e., 1 in 100 cold boot ups goes terribly wrong while 1 in 10 has a glitch. This is my life and I accept it because of the tremendous improvement over OEM car infotainment system that is a CarPC.

    I have my system 90-95% before road trips, car shows, etc., but I'm always taking notes on what I want to tweak, improve, or add. As soon as I'm home, mods begin. I actually have three tablets - one for software/hardware development (experimenting), one for the three cars, and one for backup/parts (stuff happens).

    As far as sound quality goes, I'm quite happy running my tablet through my headunit. My input is at the CD Changer so the headunit is expecting CD quality and my tablet is a perfect match to that input. This too goes back to tweaking your system, too. I have software to improve the spacial, staging, and EQ. As long as I use lossless FLAC files the sound is better than any CD.
    HARDWARE: Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111w/WiFi and dock, internal Hitachi 500G HD, external 1TB HD, Sierra Wireless Aircard 550, DVD-RW, BoomzBox HD radio, XM Commander, Delorme GPS, Saitek X-52 Pro joystick, BluSoleil Bluetooth, TPMS, FB, Elm327

  6. #6
    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    here is something coming soon to US market that looks promising for those android peeps http://www.ainovo.com/ and low price SNO

  7. #7
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    Thanks Gizmo. Very useful information.

    Did you by any chance look at the tablet to which I was referring? It probably isn't as powerful as your tablet, but one with better specs costs more and starts to make a custom build worthwhile.

    Also, what operating system are you running? I was thinking about linux because this tablet says it requires Windows 7 for the multitouch to work, but only comes with Windows starter.

    Finally, the input to your CD player, is it an aux-in or line-in level? The tablet I'm considering has an audio out. I presume this is one of those little 3.5mm connectors with stereo.

    Also, when you say 1 out of 100 times something goes terribly wrong, how wrong exactly is that? Like reinstall everything wrong?

    Thanks.

  8. #8
    Newbie preet's Avatar
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    Make sure that Linux has good support for your tablet before assuming you can use it trouble free. I use a tablet as well (this one: http://www.dell.com/content/topics/t...ding?c=us&l=en) and while drivers and stuff have finally gotten a lot better in the last year, before that using the touch screen was flaky at best, and there was no multi touch. Also with Linux, you're limited for front end options.

    I don't know enough about Windows 7 Starter to say this definitively but it has limited media playback, and explicitly mentions being unable to play DVDs (though I don't get how that makes much sense) http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/w...1-6f4fc21c2ac0. Since I use multi touch on Windows 7 with my tablet, I also thought I'd mention that while multi touch can be cool, I think it's largely a gimmick and not that helpful/intuitive when using a touchscreen in the car.

    Good luck with the project
    Check out my Frontend project!
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  9. #9
    The Last Good Gremlin GizmoQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Profozone View Post
    Thanks Gizmo. Very useful information.

    Did you by any chance look at the tablet to which I was referring? It probably isn't as powerful as your tablet, but one with better specs costs more and starts to make a custom build worthwhile.
    Briefly, its a little hefty for a car install (1.22" thickness). Some additional research to do: investigate the video and audio internals. Video is going to be taxed in any CarPC install, can the video memory be allocated manually; a lot of newer tablets are disabling line in and windows mixer recording controls. I'd recommend max the memory since its shared with video and upgrade the HD to 7200RPM. Lastly, no offense but a used/refurbished tablet is probably a much better investment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Profozone View Post
    Also, what operating system are you running? I was thinking about linux because this tablet says it requires Windows 7 for the multitouch to work, but only comes with Windows starter.
    I still run XP sp3 cause Ride Runner (my front-End of choice) had some problems initially with Win7 audio control (If it ain't broke...). Sounds like you'll need to but a Win7 Home Premium license, too. There's no reason that I know of to not use Win7. If you're paying a premium for multitouch, don;t you want to use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Profozone View Post
    Finally, the input to your CD player, is it an aux-in or line-in level? The tablet I'm considering has an audio out. I presume this is one of those little 3.5mm connectors with stereo.
    It is actually neither in my Caddys, in my Mustang its Aux-in. My Caddys use a smart suedo Aux-in for the CD Changer with a much higher fidelity for sound and databus access. Yes my tablet uses the 3.5mm output to a hardwired connection in the Caddys, and an adapter cable (3.5mm to RCAs) in the Mustang. Surprisingly, the current tablet setup has the greatest voltage (volume) into the headunit of the 8 that I've had over the years allowing much more headroom for tweaking clarity, depth and timing for a more realistic sound reproduction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Profozone View Post
    Also, when you say 1 out of 100 times something goes terribly wrong, how wrong exactly is that? Like reinstall everything wrong?
    No, that would be catastrophic - which luckily, has only happened to me twice in the last 12 years - last was in Germany in 03. Germany taught me whenever I travel for an extended time or distance to bring a backup harddrive ghosted exact copy of the installed one (quick stop, 2 screws, swap drives, reboot). I also backup my installed harddrive at least once a month. Terribly wrong is BSOD while navigating a congested unfamiliar city - requiring that I pull over and cold boot. Terribly wrong is Windows forgetting where the drivers are for 2 or more critical peripherals - requiring they be reinstalled. Terribly wrong is demonstrating the system at a car show and the system locks up - requiring a reboot in front of an audience of 30 or 40.
    Last edited by GizmoQ; 12-09-2011 at 01:18 PM.
    HARDWARE: Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111w/WiFi and dock, internal Hitachi 500G HD, external 1TB HD, Sierra Wireless Aircard 550, DVD-RW, BoomzBox HD radio, XM Commander, Delorme GPS, Saitek X-52 Pro joystick, BluSoleil Bluetooth, TPMS, FB, Elm327

  10. #10
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    Wink ESPOW android tablet pc is a wise choice for you!

    ESPOW android tablet pc is a wise choice for you!I can run all my phone apps on my tablet. surfing the internet, email, games, movies, e-books, music, photo review, Google Talk, Google Maps.Google Maps works nice during you driving~
    Last edited by tonymq; 03-12-2012 at 09:42 PM.

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