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Thread: Carputer or Multimedia Stereo? Opinions...

  1. #1
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    Carputer or Multimedia Stereo? Opinions...

    Okay I've done my research and have budgeted approx 1k.

    I'm confident to build a carputer and install it. However...

    After doing prices of a decent carputer it's coming out at 950.

    That's an EPIA M, 512Mb, 60Gb HDD, Slim DVD, Audigy NX, USB Hubs, Case, Opus, Gain T/Screen, etc....

    That would store and play plenty of mp3's and DVD's <- The main use. Although I'm a little concerned about audio quality (choppy sound with the NX) and on-board graphics.

    I can get a Multimedia Kenwood for 985 (think it's near enough this one! Kenwood). That has a motorised t/screen, DVD, mp3, radio, Dolby and DTS, lot's of features, etc. Okay I'd have to get their music keg to store any mp3's on HDD so for the time being I'd have not eliminated music CD's from the car! The carputer would be cheaper to add Sat Nav as Kenwood have an optional extra that sounds costly but I probably don't need to have Sat Nav.

    The Kenwood would look slicker. It's probably more suited for adding amp's into my system (5v pre out x3 compared with the much lower v on the NX), etc...

    I'm trying to justify one or the other?

  2. #2
    Raw Wave Confused's Avatar
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    Here is my opinion

    Going with the HU will give you:
    Advantages:
    An off-the-shelf solution that is almost guaranteed to work.
    Part "cool factor" of a motorised display
    Tactile buttons - never underestimate how good having actual buttons is, you soon learn to feel for buttons to do stuff.

    Disadvantages:
    You don't eliminate audio CDs out of the car, you still need CDs with your music on, and you can therefore only browse a couple of hundred tracks at a time
    Adding more features is very difficult
    Expensive to add Sat Nav (although you might not use it much, when you do need it, it is invaluable)
    The screen will probably only be PAL/NTSC, which means it's more difficult to see text, meaning less songs visible on the screen for browsing.

    Going the PC route gives you:
    Advantages:
    Completely customisable. Don't like how the audio selection works? Use another piece of software. Don't like the look, change the skin.
    More upgradeable. If you need more power later, you can move/sell the Epia, and get yourself a faster motherboard/processor, and you can keep the rest of the components.
    Cheaper to add new features. Be it software, or hardware, it's generally going to be cheaper.
    Higher quality screen, especially the Gain screen. Much easier to view things such as GPS
    Eliminate audio CDs from the car.
    Able to browse/queue all your music in one hit, not limited to the songs that are on a specific CD.
    There are relatively few people who have working carputers, so there is the "cool factor" there

    Disadvantages:
    Takes more effort to get working. Plus side of this is more satisfaction when you actually get it working properly.
    No tactile feedback by using purely a touchscreen. Easily overcome by using an IR remote, or something similar (see the Input Devices forum)
    Currently no adequate FM/AM radio hardware. Interesting development happening here though, if it pans out, should have a very good piece of hardware (with RDS/TA etc)


    Adding amps isn't really an issue. Many people here are using their PC directly into an amp, without any problems.

    Even the onboard sound on the Epia is good. I seriously doubt the NX (if you decide to get one) will give you "choppy" sound. Playing back aggressively compressed DivX/XviD movies might make the Epia M struggle, but it's got an onboard DVD decoder chip, and DVD playback on an Epia M is pretty good


    In the end though, it is up to you If you need help with the PC side of things, we're always willing to help here


    Garry
    Co-Developer of A.I.M.E.E
    www.aimee.cc

  3. #3
    FLAC Skraggy_uk's Avatar
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    ZimZimmer, where are you planning on buying your parts from?

    There are places that advertise on here, and some from elsewhere that can be cheaper.

    And I'm not talking Ebay.
    4x4 in a turbo stylee.

  4. #4
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    Thanks - that's the sort of reply I needed!

    What I like about the Multimedia Kenwood is the simplicity and neatness of the install. I don't want to start hacking at the dash of my e36 and that really only leaves a motorised screen to do a nice install. I'd still want to access the cars onboard comp and climate control - a fixed screen would prob get in the way? However I do need a decent quality screen due to whenever the roof is down.

    I was going to get the Travla C134 case but then the PCI slot on the Epia would be useless. Is it worth putting an improved PCI graphics card in the slot (and getting a slightly bigger case to do so)? The C134 would prob fit in the HU location as I think there is enough depth to accomodate it there.

    Agreed that the PC would have more functionality and advancing further with improvements.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skraggy_uk
    ZimZimmer, where are you planning on buying your parts from?

    There are places that advertise on here, and some from elsewhere that can be cheaper.

    And I'm not talking Ebay.
    Hi,

    Most of my prices are from linitx and other bits through work (I.T. reseller who buys from Disti's). I was looking at UK based companies so no customs tax.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    FLAC Spaghetti's Avatar
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    That looks pretty nice. I suppose if you had enough money for an M3 and its associated running costs like fuel, insurance, maintenence etc, then you probably wouldn't mind shelling out a little bit more for the optional extra's!
    I see the music keg only holds 10Gb though and that could be a problem in the long run, although it say it's VBR compatible. I don't really see the point of buying such a high-end system without the nav/HD.

  7. #7
    FLAC Skraggy_uk's Avatar
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    Have a look at CarTFT (who did, if they still don't) advertise on here, and mini-itx.com

    CarTFT is euro based, so you won't get clobbered for additional duty and VAT.
    4x4 in a turbo stylee.

  8. #8
    Raw Wave Confused's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZimZimmer
    Thanks - that's the sort of reply I needed!

    What I like about the Multimedia Kenwood is the simplicity and neatness of the install. I don't want to start hacking at the dash of my e36 and that really only leaves a motorised screen to do a nice install. I'd still want to access the cars onboard comp and climate control - a fixed screen would prob get in the way? However I do need a decent quality screen due to whenever the roof is down.

    I was going to get the Travla C134 case but then the PCI slot on the Epia would be useless. Is it worth putting an improved PCI graphics card in the slot (and getting a slightly bigger case to do so)? The C134 would prob fit in the HU location as I think there is enough depth to accomodate it there.

    Agreed that the PC would have more functionality and advancing further with improvements.
    Take a look at the work some people have done on a custom faceplate to go in the middle of the dash in the Fabrication/Show Off Your Project forum. There is some really good work there that requires you to remove just a couple of pieces of the dash, keeping your climate control etc.

    Probably the best place to put the computer will be in the boot, I'm sure the E36 has enough room for a Mini-ITX case with enough room for a PCI slot, plus then you can use a PCI card if you want for video/sound


    The Xenarc screen, which I have, is pretty good in the sunlight, much better than the Lilliput (which I have also had installed in my car, in the same place, and it had really bad glare). LinITX is probably one of the best places to get stuff from in the UK, both myself and my boss have ordered from there with no problems


    Garry
    Co-Developer of A.I.M.E.E
    www.aimee.cc

  9. #9
    FLAC Spaghetti's Avatar
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    Confused, is your Zenarc a touchscreen?

  10. #10
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    I was meant to buy a house but at todays prices the mortgage was steep - so bought an M3 with the deposit money - ooops! Moment of madness perhaps! So I best stick to my budget with this project!

    Sometimes I like the roar of the engine and other times I like to listen to my music. I'm after a nice set up to compliment the car.

    Yep that music keg at 10Gb is a bit pants isn't it!

    Thanks Skraggy_uk I'll take a look at their prices.


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