I am very early in the planning phase of a boat computer (I know there's a dedicated boat section but these questions are not boat specific.) My current thinking is that the computer will be built around an Item Atom (D945GCLF,) 2GB RAM, CF harddrive (8GB/16GB) through a CF-IDE adapter. The Opus 120 watt PSU seems to be universally liked and I would expect it could deliver all the power I would need. This computer will be used as a chartplotter (running SeaClear,) for entertainment (music, video, simple games,) and for office needs (email, word processor, spreadsheets, etc.) My plan is to connect two monitors to it. One will be a touchscreen that can be mounted on the navpod for use while sailing or moved to the in cabin nav station so it can be used there for route planning. The second monitor will be a larger LCD screen for watching movies, playing games, and the like. I have a couple of questions about multiple monitors and multiple speakers.
First, how can a computer be connected to two monitors and display something different on each? Example, one person is at the navpod using the chartplotter and someone else is in the cabin and wants to watch a movie.
Second, how can I create two speaker "zones" with separate volume control to each? Example, music is playing while people are on deck or in the water so the speakers on the outside zone need to be turned up. The speakers on the inside zone would need to be at a much lower level otherwise someone who goes down below would get an earful. I guess the best of everything would be that not only are there two zones with each having individual volume control but also playing different audio (someone watching a movie in the cabin on the inside zone while others are on deck listening to music on the outside zone, but I don't want to ask for too much.) By the way, I love those little Griffin volume control knobs and like the idea mounting one to the navpod to control the outside zone. If there's not some way to make that work then I would want to control the volume through the computer (likely the touchscreen from outside the cabin or the keyboard/mouse from in the cabin.
I'm not sure if this affects the answer or not but, since I'm planning a CF harddrive, it will be fairly small so I had not planned to load video or music on it. I expect to carry video files on board and play them from a USB flash drive. I use a flash drive to not only carry data but, through the PortableApps software launch a web browser (Firefox,) an office suite (OpenOffice,) a picture editor (GIMP,) and more. For music I had planned to use an iPod. When I use my iPod away from the computer it's paired to I like to use the nifty PodPlayer software. I would like to use it for this application since it would not require installing anything on the boat computer. some of these video/audio needs may be addressed by the front ends available here. That's an area where I have not (yet) devoted much time to (but will.)