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Thread: CarPC Hardware/Software Questions/Concerns

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    CarPC Hardware/Software Questions/Concerns

    I am researching CarPC products in the hopes of finding a CarPC solution that will meet my needs (and wants) and ultimately replace my current setup.

    At this time I have a Hummer H2 with an Pioneer AVIC-Z2. I've included the Bluetooth and iPod accessories to the AVIC to enhance its functionality and a rear LCD display for passengers to watch DVDs. For long road trips I also bring my notebook PC and EVDO modem for Internet access and alternate GPS guidance (Microsoft Streets and Trips).

    I'd like to be able to consolidate all of these functions into a built-in CarPC solution and replace the AVIC. Being an IT professional I know that this is doable but I thought it best to post here for advice regarding some particulars that I think may be problematic.

    I'll start by saying that I am unfamiliar with the many front-ends and much of the CarPC-specific hardware that is currently available, and perhaps my concerns have already been addressed...that's why I'm asking you guys.

    Front-End Concerns:

    1. Multiple display support: Obviously the front-end will always be displayed on the main (in-dash) screen, but I'd like the rear screen (which will be quite larger...10-13") to be the default screen for all movies (DVD and/or those stored on the hard drive). Here's the kicker...I'd also need this rear screen to have the capability to be used for Internet browsing or other applications WITHOUT disturbing or interfering with the front-end or main display.

    2. Movie selection: I typically rip movies to my hard disk prior to a trip to avoid messing with multiple DVD discs. I would need a front-end that would allow for easy selection of movies/videos stored in this manner.


    Hardware Concerns:

    3. DVD loading: My vehicle has a double-din opening where I plan to mount the main display; however I have no other available dash location for mounting a DVD player. Are there currently any LCD displays that come with built-in DVD players which would mount in a double-din location? Or is there another solution for this problem?

    4. Steering wheel controls: The AVIC has the ability to work with my factory steering wheel controls (via a third-party device). I would like to maintain the functionality of my steering wheel controls if possible (volume, track up/down, etc.).

    5. Display brightness: I would also like the main display (and possibly the rear display) to automatically adjust brightness based upon the vehicles 'luminance' wire (e.g. automatically dim when the headlights come on and vice versa).

    Im looking for a front-end where everything can be managed without interacting with Windows directly. Id like the front-end to be intuitive, customizable, and possibly even include the ability for car diagnostics (that would be a unique plus).

    Im hoping that my wish list is not still ahead of the CarPC technology curve. Any and all recommendations/suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by guruerror View Post
    Front-End Concerns:

    1. Multiple display support: Obviously the front-end will always be displayed on the main (in-dash) screen, but I'd like the rear screen (which will be quite larger...10-13") to be the default screen for all movies (DVD and/or those stored on the hard drive). Here's the kicker...I'd also need this rear screen to have the capability to be used for Internet browsing or other applications WITHOUT disturbing or interfering with the front-end or main display.
    Yes. Road Runner has multiscreen support. I believe Centrafuse also does. You can also extend your desktop to the second screen and operate it that way.

    Quote Originally Posted by guruerror View Post
    2. Movie selection: I typically rip movies to my hard disk prior to a trip to avoid messing with multiple DVD discs. I would need a front-end that would allow for easy selection of movies/videos stored in this manner.
    Yes, you can do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by guruerror View Post
    Hardware Concerns:

    3. DVD loading: My vehicle has a double-din opening where I plan to mount the main display; however I have no other available dash location for mounting a DVD player. Are there currently any LCD displays that come with built-in DVD players which would mount in a double-din location? Or is there another solution for this problem?
    You can use a fold out screen and put a slot load player in the opening.

    Quote Originally Posted by guruerror View Post
    4. Steering wheel controls: The AVIC has the ability to work with my factory steering wheel controls (via a third-party device). I would like to maintain the functionality of my steering wheel controls if possible (volume, track up/down, etc.).
    This can also be done, but you will need to hack some to make it work, or it is possible that the third party device can be used in the computer setup.

    Quote Originally Posted by guruerror View Post
    5. Display brightness: I would also like the main display (and possibly the rear display) to automatically adjust brightness based upon the vehicles 'luminance' wire (e.g. automatically dim when the headlights come on and vice versa).
    This can be done using hardware or alternatively, there is auto dimming gamma adjust built in to Road Runner.

    Quote Originally Posted by guruerror View Post
    Im looking for a front-end where everything can be managed without interacting with Windows directly. Id like the front-end to be intuitive, customizable, and possibly even include the ability for car diagnostics (that would be a unique plus).
    Definitely do-able.

    To do this you need to be ready to hack stuff and mess with the installation and poke around with it. You can definitely do it but if you don't have the patience for that, stick with the AVIC.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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    I've got the patience to fiddle with it until it all works right but I also know PCs...are these front-ends stable enough to run trouble free once setup properly?

    And would you recommend running XP as the OS instead of Vista? I've also seen some info referencing XPe. I would imagine that XPe would increase boot time and recovery from Standby and Hibernation...do you have any recommendations regarding OS?

    I really appreciate your comments...I've already started researching Centrafuse, but will check out RoadRunner too. Hopefully I'll be able to get a test environment setup on a desktop with each of these front-ends to figure out which will work best for me.

    The only lingering question I have is regarding your "fold out screen and put a slot load player in the opening" comment. Could you point me in the direction to find this hardware? I've found single DIN motorized units and single DIN DVD drives...but I am having a hard time finding any double DIN displays, and definitely haven't seen any units that fold out to allow access to the space behind. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're getting at.

    Thanks again.

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    Here's one, but it is pricey. A lot of nice integration and stuff in it, though.http://store.mp3car.com/Guru_Double_..._p/ccc-130.htm

    Here's one: http://web.comhem.se/bengt-olof.swing/DL065A.htm

    Here's a lengthy thread on the topic: Dual DIN LCD touchscreen monitor?
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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    Quote Originally Posted by guruerror View Post
    I've got the patience to fiddle with it until it all works right but I also know PCs...are these front-ends stable enough to run trouble free once setup properly?
    Yes.
    The major, well-known front-ends are all well-developed and stable.

    And would you recommend running XP as the OS instead of Vista? I've also seen some info referencing XPe. I would imagine that XPe would increase boot time and recovery from Standby and Hibernation...do you have any recommendations regarding OS?
    XP over Vista for the compatibility.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



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