Newbie here... can't decide what to do...
I just joined this forum yesterday, but I have been lurking around for a few weeks. I have read many of the FAQ's, but still have a long way to go.
I am a "newb" in the sense that I have never installed a computer in a car; however I have been building my own computers (as well as building my own liquid cooling systems) for years. I have also installed/upgraded the audio systems in every car I have ever owned. mechanically, I [in theory] have all the experience necessary and all the tools (both power and hand) to gracefully enter the world of carputing :)
my problem is that I cannot decide on what components I want to use, and how I want to set it all up. I have a 2007 Ford Fusion, it has a double-DIN factory stereo opening. I would like to have BOTH an aftermarket single DIN stereo AND a full touchscreen LCD. but it appears that the only way I can accomplish that is by installing a stereo in the lower DIN slot and installing a folding/retractable LCD in the top DIN slot. while I would love the "clean" look of an LCD screen that sits flush with the rest of the dashboard, but I don't like the idea of controlling the stereo through a software interface. also, I want to be able to say leave the navigation screen displayed and be able to change the radio station and adjust volume at the same time (I don't want to be switching screens)
my other problem is that I cannot decide what to use for the "guts" of the system. I have enough spare parts [lying around collecting dust] to build an ATX system. I also have an old Dell Insipron 8000 laptop that I rarely use anymore.
- building an ATX system would take up alot of space, use alot of power, and would have to to be mounted in the trunk (hard to cool). but it would be a powerful system in a car. since I already have all the parts, all i would need to buy is a monitor and cables.
- using the laptop would take up less space and consume less power, but would still have to be mounted in the trunk and is not as powerful (600MHz PIII). and again, since I already have all the parts, all i would need to buy is a monitor and cables.
- the other option is to build a custom mini-ITX system that could either fit in the dash somewhere. I like this option the best, but since I don't have any components for a mITX system, I would have to purchase everything. which would end up being much more than I would like to spend (or charge ;))
- pre-made systems are far too expensive, so unless I saw some amazing deal I'm not even considering one.
I will probably end up going the single-DIN stereo / single-DIN in-dash touchscreen route. but I am interested in hearing what others have to say about my potential carputer. Thanks :)
BTW, here's a pic of the dashboard in case anybody wants to see it (thanks to msn autos):