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Thread: Is a CarPC better than....(and a lot of newbie questions)

  1. #1
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    Is a CarPC better than....(and a lot of newbie questions)

    Before anyone says SEARCH!, I have. I have spent the last 2 days on this forum looking for information. There is a lot, all scattered about. Not many tutorials, and not many people recommending one product over another.

    -----


    I have an Eclipse AVN7000. Pretty much the top of the line commercially available head unit in the US. But I am thinking about trading in for a double din. The problem is, I am not a big fan of any of the double din all in one units, except the AVIC-Z series. However, those have flaws too.

    ive looked into the whole Car PC thing and it kinda intimidates me, but it also worries me. I dont want to be disappointed. So, I want to know some honest opinions about the systems.

    Id like to know if everything is so integrated that you will never know it is just a computer. I want it to feel like it is a car HU, but with much more features.

    I saw that some people have the unit set up so it goes to hibernate instead of shut down when the car turns off. Id like to know if this is easy to do, without pressing buttons or navigating through the front end everytime I turn off the car.

    As for a front end, Id like something that is very clean and customizable, would you say Centrafuse is the best choice for me? I look at Streetdeck and it seems too much like a computer, than an HU. Road Runner doesnt seem to be as nice as Id like, but correct me if Im wrong.

    I am new to building the actual computer, so let me know what parts youd recommend. I doubt Ill play games, or be running many apps at once. I feel I can get the parts I want for less than $400 for just the computer. Only looking for about 40gigs, maybe 512 ram, 1ghz cpu. would anyone recommend I get better?

    As for GPS, this is where I am picky. The Eclipse has the best in dash 2D nav and best functioning nav of any on the market. However, I like a 3D view, whcih it does not have. I just the nav a lot and want it to look good and be easy to use. I see iGuidance seems to be good, but not perfect. Destinator seems nice and much like TomTom, which I like, but I cannot find the computer version online. I also see stuff from Google Earth and Microsoft Live that feature satellite maps. Can this work as a real navigation feature, of just mapping?

    For sound, I have an Eclipse, so I am used to great sound. I have a fully amplified system and want the PC to sound as good or better. Is this possible? What external sound card is the best for me? Also, does a good sound card that I can get have RCA outputs (or at least one, to go to an EQ/Line Driver) to easily connect to the amps?

    Id like something like an 8" widescreen, any recommendations?

    The slim disc drives...if I want to mold the slot into my dash, do I need and external one?

    And finally,
    how much can I expect to spend. Id love to get everything for around $1000. Is this doable? Computer about $400, screen about $200, can I get all the softwares and external hardware for $400 more? I can spend more, but Id like to spend less, ya know.






    Thanks

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate Dennis5587's Avatar
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    just a computer?

    I think you're forgetting the biggest thing... if you go buy and alpine, or an eclipse h.u. you are buying something that they felt is the best for the general population of people who would buy it...

    With a computer you are the one that decides your level of involvement, you can have the computer do virually anything you need it to do, down to have as many 30 band eq's, active crossovers, and time alignment on all your speakers. You are the one holding all the cards, and deciding where they go.

    As far as price... it depends what you want to do...

    If you want to do what I just explained with the time alignment and an active crossover setup... its going to cost you more in hardware then if you were to be just playing mp3's... Playing games on a pc isn't the only thing that can use a lot of processor power.

    So basically deside if you are willing to take up a little more space for a faster computer to be able to do a lot, this will cost an affordable price, you can have a fast computer that can do that but is still small, but will cost you a lot.... you can have a slower computer that will pretty much just handle mp3's, cd's, and gps... that is small, and not too expensive, but won't process sound quite the way that the faster computers are capable of...

    A screen is going to be more then 200 most likely, they start at 250 for new... and 8" is more.

    Also, do you have a windows xp cd? If not, that costs a good amount.


    In the end... how dirty you plan on getting, the computer is as rewarding, and good as you want it to be, it just gets down to spending extra time on it... its been proven that it can not only sound as good as conventional setups... but actually better then them. There are members here that compete in sound quality competitions and do quite well at them at that...

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  3. #3
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    Looks like you know what you want, now apply that knowledge to the right direction, search, get involved with it. Download Centrafuse, road runner or whatever you want and play with it, see how you like it. For GPS the best ones I hear are Iguidance and Map Monkey, but MM has no 3D view WITH names of streets, so IG3 sounds better for you
    Also, don't even try to calculate how much it's gonna cost you before you do it, you are never gonna remember EVERYTHING you need. Like Software gets expensive(i.e. Windows, GPS soft, etc.) then the PC itself, you want to go with Mini-ITX, or buy a used PC with good processor and use it's mobo. Power supply, all the wiring, GPS reciever, bluetooth devices, Sat adio unit(if you're gonna use one) all adapters, maybe an external sound card if you need it, screen + even stuff like bondo and paint if you're gonna mold it in. Those little things don't cost much separately, but when you buy a lot, it is noticable. And that just the tip of the iceberg...So plan as much as you can, but at the end you'll always end up paying more. But it's worth it.

  4. #4
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    ..."I spent 2 days on the forum".....no offence but I have probably spent 30 - 40 hours browsing the forums over a 2 month span. From your post it is funny to me becuase when you ask yourself a question and think it about it and search more you WILL find the answer. I know I havent answered any of your questions but there are a few you have asked that I have asked myself in the beginning. It is absolutely addictive once you find the answer and then straight away you have another question to be answered.

    Another note is everybody is different and only you can answer those questions with teh help of reading this forum and others.

    What Dennis & Ivan say are pretty great answers but you will find many more and that is what you will still have questions.

    Having said all that, welcome to the board which will help you through your journey, whatever road you take

    Cheers

  5. #5
    FLAC DodgeCummins's Avatar
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    Note:

    there is a REVIEW section on this forum.

  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate Dennis5587's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    a pc in the car is not like a multimedia headunit, I mean if you spend enough time & effort you can get it to feel like one, & have way more capabilities too... BUT it is a pc, & the fact that you can do thousands of things with it also means that there are many things that can come up that are less than perfect as a stand alone unit with just one purpose....

    you have to have patience & dedication, it's not like a mm headunit that get's installed in one afternoon & that's it.... the end results of a carpc are going to depend 100% on YOU, so instead of asking if it can be as good, ask yourself if you think you can make it as good...

    if you don't have a lot of patience & persistance then it could just be a frustraiting project that never makes it to really awsome.... alot of guys bail & realize theres a lot more to it than first it seems.

    so, can you do it? only you can realy answer that, & only you can answer what it is you ultimatley want, recomendations only go so far & no one can tell you what to use because in the end it's all a trade-off & a balance... there are many factors that affect the overall end result & only you can decide what will be good for you & meet your needs & expectations....

  8. #8
    Maximum Bitrate GoHybrid's Avatar
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    i'm guessing you never came across any of my stuff during your "search". that's an example of an AVN5435 and a set of controls for Front Row. doesn't get too much simpler than that.

    Also wasting a screen is kind of a shame too, so consider how you might use two screens through the course of driving your car versus one. Turns out the AVN screen, even though it is only NTSC, is perfect for Front row and similar applications... and then it's already installed once your head unit goes in... no bondo nastiness.

    Just seems like once you have an AVN unit, it's so expensive and so good at so many things that it just seems like a total waste to just use it for an input for your amps.
    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

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  9. #9
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    yeah, that too, I have an alpine touchscreen multimedia setup AND a pc screen in one of my cars, best of both worlds if you can do it, & then the 100% dependability factor is much less of an issue too

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate stangg172006's Avatar
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    2 days is like a blink of an eye. You need to spend at least two months taking it all in. And don't be intimidated by PCs, there pretty much idiot proof. I had the same hesitation before i got into this but like i said, theyre idiot proof...
    '08 VW Rabbit S 2.5

    Carputer Progress:
    Design:[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][] 100%
    Fabrication:[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]100%
    Installation:[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][] 80%

    In trouble...

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