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Thread: More on CES: Square your car PC away with Xi3

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    More on CES: Square your car PC away with Xi3


    The Xi3 booth at CES was jam-packed with these ultra-cool x86 computing systems. Shown above is the Xi3 5A. This 4" modular cube houses a 1.8ghz dual-core AMD CPU, 2GB of system RAM, and up to 1TB of solid state storage. It's modular design allows for a host of peripheral devices, with multiple options for USB/ eSATA, and display ports. The 5A does include a fan for system cooling, but I can say after demoing the device it's indeed silent. It sips power at only 20 watts, and can be powered from 12-24v.





    So what's missing from making this a go to Car PC option? The only downside i see is the lack of the smart automotive power management that we know from Opus and Minibox systems, but because the device is modular and Xi3 is looking at the device to be installed anywhere possible, the engineers eyes lit up at the idea of creating a automotive add-on module to handle that. ETA is of course unknown, but it's great that there's another company out there that gets frenzied up for car PC goodies.


    If the 1.8 dual core isn't enough power for your setup, Xi3 has other builds that might work. The X7a, while slightly more power demanding at 40 watts, packs quad core power and more memory to boot. It's plenty powerful enough for the user who needs to video edit or game on the go.

    The Xi3 modular systems start at just $399.
    Last edited by Enforcer; 01-17-2013 at 05:31 PM. Reason: you'd think a mod would be able to put an image in a post correctly. jeez.

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    nice writeup. i remember seeing these before, maybe it was last years prototype or something..

    the dc-dc-usb can provide power @12v, as well as a on/off signal-- so it'd work perfect with this, though the psu would be 2x's the size of the pc

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    on another note, has anyone picked up an INTEL NUC?
    bare bones (less ram and SSD) is < $300ish
    looks cute, still $400-$500ish when u add ram + ssd
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    Are they even available yet?

    There are three issues I see with this unit.

    Power for the car... (As mentioned there is a solution... Probably would be better to use a UPS driver so you can shut down based on battery capacity.)

    There is only 1 stereo audio output. For in car use you will want 6 channel surround sound.

    The processor/GPU is AMD/ATI only. No Intel versions. AMD is generally less powerful and not as heat tolerant as current Intel versions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadedrod View Post
    Are they even available yet?

    There are three issues I see with this unit.

    Power for the car... (As mentioned there is a solution... Probably would be better to use a UPS driver so you can shut down based on battery capacity.)

    There is only 1 stereo audio output. For in car use you will want 6 channel surround sound.

    The processor/GPU is AMD/ATI only. No Intel versions. AMD is generally less powerful and not as heat tolerant as current Intel versions.
    the 5A is available now. 7A will be available "Q1". I'm trying to coordinate with the company to do a full hands on review. Will definitely update if it goes through.
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    I hope that happens. These little guys were neat to see and hold at CES but I really, REALLY want to see how one performs for CarPC use.

    EDIT: Sonic, do you know what the other boxes were that would slide onto the base of the little PC? I saw them sliding things on and off but didn't catch what they were.
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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadedrod View Post
    There is only 1 stereo audio output. For in car use you will want 6 channel surround sound.
    no you don't. many of the setups here use 1 stereo output... i'd just add a usb sound card for my own car-- because i'm special

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    Unless they will support 5.1 sound I won't be getting one... Too hard to add afterwards.

    The NUC might be a better sell since it supports surround sound through the HDMI cable. Which will require splitting out the channels but still is there.
    (Is there even a product available in the car market that will allow you to drive it with a hdmi cable?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by redheadedrod View Post
    Unless they will support 5.1 sound I won't be getting one... Too hard to add afterwards.

    The NUC might be a better sell since it supports surround sound through the HDMI cable. Which will require splitting out the channels but still is there.
    (Is there even a product available in the car market that will allow you to drive it with a hdmi cable?)
    The focus here is on size and power, and whether it presents a reasonable platform for carPC development. If support for 5.1 surround audio is your primary design goal, then small size and low power consumption are probably not a major concern. For mainstream carPC users, the presence of an onboard stereo output is a plus when compared to the NUC, which would require the purchase of a USB audio card. Quality HDMI breakout boxes run about $200 and require external power, so they are of questionable value in a car.

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    Ok, you can "get away" with 2 channel sound and not have a front to back fader. (How many of us really use the fader anyhow?)

    I may consider getting one of the i3 versions for my car.

    With the dc-dc-USB supply doesn't it allow you to monitor the input voltage if you use the USB cable?

    Otherwise I wonder if you can use one of mini-box's other devices. One of the UPS boards might be nice. Let you monitor the voltage on the board then you could tell when the vehicle is running or not via a USB connection. Then let the computer shut down or hibernate with its "normal" settings. Might require someone writing a specialized driver to allow the computer to see "vehicle running" as AC and "Vehicle off" as BATTERY.

    Would also be nice if in "Vehicle off" mode you could slow down the processor if you wanted to in order to save electricity. (Of course MOST motherboards support reducing CPU speed these days when on Battery power.)

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