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Thread: Tired of buggy software and going use smartphone standalone and JRiver for media play

  1. #1
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    Tired of buggy software and going use smartphone standalone and JRiver for media play

    I am an older member of the forum but I don't post a lot. That said, I am a EE and understand the magnitude of effort that has gone into front ends like Ride Runner and Centrafuse. I have a lot of respect for the folks that have contributed to those development efforts. My problem is that these products have not matured to the point that they can be simple turn key solutions after years of development. I purchased Centrafuse and played with Ride Runner for years but never was fully successful at integrating my phone over bluetooth and support for navigation software lost its two best packages when Garmin and iGuidance pulled out of the PC market. About a year ago, one of the Centerafuse forum mods told me that the bluetooth integration for smartphones under Windows would never be 100% trouble free.

    I have reached the point where I just want something that works and don't want to put the time into endless tweaking. My day job and family life are demanding enough. Smartphone navigation has gotten so good that I see no problem using it stand alone. Smartphone hands free integration with in dash stereos has gotten very good as well. Going forward, I see myself using a mid level in dash stereo with bluetooth, a smartphone mounted in a cradle, and my car PC relegated to being a media playback device with a large music library. JRiver Media Player has a very nice Theater mode that is touch screen friendly and good in a car environment. This is going to be my solution for now. It also is better for my wife and daughter. They understand these individual pieces of equipment and were never able to understand why I had the problems I had with front end software.

    Has anyone else reached this point of frustration with the mobile PC world and rolled back their expectations?

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    I found Driveline and have never looked back. Tried RR, bought CF then the upgrade and also Streetdeck. I use copilot, garmin and igo for my navigation, XM,AM/FM/HD, tire pressure system, parking distance front and rear, OBD2, phidgets for relay controls and 8 analog sensors for temp, amp draw, weather with alerts, front side and rear cameras never a problem. Bluetooth phone intregration is ahit and miss but usually works with HTC phones winmo or android. Clockwork has been steadily coding this since 08 and as far as I am concerned it is mature and polished. Give it a try as there is nothing to install just run the exe. Good luck SNO
    Last edited by SNOtwistR; 01-16-2014 at 03:05 PM.

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    Me. And I love my setup now (see worklog). But as soon as I upgrade my cell phone to a larger screen I will most likely ditch the tablet all together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SNOtwistR View Post
    I found Driveline and have never looked back. Tried RR, bought CF then the upgrade and also Streetdeck. I use copilot, garmin and igo for my navigation, XM,AM/FM/HD, tire pressure system, parking distance front and rear, OBD2, phidgets for relay controls and 8 analog sensors for temp, amp draw, weather with alerts, front side and rear cameras never a problem. Bluetooth phone intregration is ahit and miss but usually works with HTC phones winmo or android. Clockwork has been steadily coding this since 08 and as far as I am concerned it is mature and polished. Give it a try as there is nothing to install just run the exe. Good luck SNO
    Thanks for the recommendation. I checked out the screen shots and Driveline looks promising. The one thing I can't determine from the quick look is if it can play flac files. My entire library is ripped in flac format and while I can convert it to mp3 or other formats, I would prefer to just use a copy of my existing music library. I ripped most of it using Media Monkey on a Windows 7 64 bit machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lankin View Post
    Me. And I love my setup now (see worklog). But as soon as I upgrade my cell phone to a larger screen I will most likely ditch the tablet all together.
    I have experimented with my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet but the show stopper for me is sound quality out of the headphone jack is not good enough. I have a quiet car and some high end electronics and speakers. I bought a DAC to plug into the tablet using an adapter and it sounds much better but I can't simultaneously listen to music over the DAC and charge the tablet. I don't know if this is a Samsung thing or general Android problem but the expansion port will not let me connect a device and a charger at the same time.

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    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    I have flac files and play fine in driveline. If you can play the file in windows it will work in driveline. Also depending on where you were viewing the shots of driveline it may be from an older version. SNO

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    Im not there yet where you are. I hope it never comes that that point, but I am frustrated quite a bit.

    Generally speaking CF and RR are very good choices, but they arent maintained well enough, especially in the last few years. RR has a solid base, but the plugins are scarce. CF is very buggy, is missing a lot of mandatory features even in the media player and plugins seem to be dying slowly. Both seem to lack ideas of using the strengths of a CarPC and instead just stay on one spot and let the tablets and phones kill them off.
    And of course, as you said, lots of stuff doesnt work properly, even though there are good APIs with SDKs to make it work. I really wish I could program, to change this a bit, but I cant and I dont feel up to the challenge to learn it, because that would include skinning too, which is also pretty hard to master. So I tend to stay the paying supporter instead, but its frustrating to not see much worthwhile supporting anymore.

    Right now I am looking at CES (a German alternative), its very promising and has a pretty motivated and busy developer and user base. Lots of nice ideas like a GPS tracker plugin, etc.

    Driveline doesnt look very appealing to me. Yes, its just the looks. I dont know how well it works, but the UI just looks very cheap to me and there are no skins available that change that look drastically. Thats enough to keep me away.

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    This is a very interesting thread, and highlights some of the problems inherent in this particular market. If I were to summarize, I might conclude:

    I want it to run on whatever hardware I happen to have.
    I want it to be compatible with whatever vehicle I happen to own.
    I want it to be infinitely customizable.
    I want it to look anyway I choose.
    I want to be able to do this without any special knowledge or specific understanding (on my part) of how computers or software work.

    Did I miss anything?

    Of course, this is just a VERY broad generalization of a lot of different threads and comments I've seen over the years. I'm not saying its wrong to want it this way, either. I'm just saying nothing in the real world works like this. If you want a consumer-level appliance, then you have to forego customization and flexibility. If you want a development platform, then you get a steeper learning curve and not as much built-in ease of use. Centrafuse, RR and Driveline all reflect different approaches to achieving a balance between competing priorities. And that's not even taking into account the fact that all of these products are the efforts of maybe one or two people at most. The kinds of resources needed to produce OEM-quality products simply does not exist. At present, this is simply a hobbyist market, with products geared to that demographic.

    I fully agree that we, as a community, need to embrace new ideas, technologies and platforms if we want to continue to moving forward. I know RR has already made a move onto Android, and I think that will be a really good thing for a lot of users. To one extent or another, CF, RR and Driveline already support Win8 tablets, and I can say that Centrafuse is already working on a consumer-oriented product designed exclusively for tablets. While the pace of change may not suit some folks, there is no doubt that change is occurring. I think 2014 is going to be a watershed year for most of the major platforms. Should be a lot of fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasGuy View Post
    This is a very interesting thread, and highlights some of the problems inherent in this particular market. If I were to summarize, I might conclude:

    I want it to run on whatever hardware I happen to have.
    I want it to be compatible with whatever vehicle I happen to own.
    I want it to be infinitely customizable.
    I want it to look anyway I choose.
    I want to be able to do this without any special knowledge or specific understanding (on my part) of how computers or software work.

    Did I miss anything?

    Of course, this is just a VERY broad generalization of a lot of different threads and comments I've seen over the years. I'm not saying its wrong to want it this way, either. I'm just saying nothing in the real world works like this. If you want a consumer-level appliance, then you have to forego customization and flexibility. If you want a development platform, then you get a steeper learning curve and not as much built-in ease of use. Centrafuse, RR and Driveline all reflect different approaches to achieving a balance between competing priorities. And that's not even taking into account the fact that all of these products are the efforts of maybe one or two people at most. The kinds of resources needed to produce OEM-quality products simply does not exist. At present, this is simply a hobbyist market, with products geared to that demographic.

    I fully agree that we, as a community, need to embrace new ideas, technologies and platforms if we want to continue to moving forward. I know RR has already made a move onto Android, and I think that will be a really good thing for a lot of users. To one extent or another, CF, RR and Driveline already support Win8 tablets, and I can say that Centrafuse is already working on a consumer-oriented product designed exclusively for tablets. While the pace of change may not suit some folks, there is no doubt that change is occurring. I think 2014 is going to be a watershed year for most of the major platforms. Should be a lot of fun.
    None of those points fit me.

    • I will gladly buy hardware components that only work specifically with a software. I have done so in the past and did not regret it.
    • I dont want it to be compatible with any car I own. I dont have a car PC in every car I own plus you can put a car PC in any car, if you really want to. The software doesnt limit here. Your talent for such modifications is the limit or the money you are willing to give someone to do it for you.
    • I dont want it to be infinitely customizable, but at least have the features old head units from the 2000s had, plus the usage of the car PC potential. Because otherwise OF COURSE any headunit, phone or tablet is better.
    • I dont want it to look any way I want. RR, CES, CF and lots of old FE looks are fine, yet a lot different to each other. There is no problem there. Im pretty sure Driveline will turn out with some nice skins too sooner or later, if the people really are that motivated with it.
    • I dont want to do it without any special knowledge. Everyone who wants a car PC should know that its a lot of work and will always cause you to use a lot of tinkering to get everything to work. And even when everything seems to work a problem might turn up again, which you will have to solve. Thats why "ready to use" car PC systems all have failed miserably, since they suggest to customers that its very easy to put a PC into your car.


    CF and RR were very close to OEM quality at one point, especially CF, but then it went down the drain some point between 3.1 and 4.0. But nothing is done about them anymore. RR is very solid, there is no denying, but its missing a lot of plugins. Its easy to embed applications into it, which counters that lack quite a lot, but still, there is some essential stuff missing.

    CF on the other hand feels promising and very polished at the start, but quickly shows that it has become very, VERY buggy, essential basic features have been missing or broken for years and years, even though they were promised repeatedly and people were asked for their input for new features and things to change. Useful plugins are very scarce, while embedding isnt that easy and often just impossible to do while keeping stability.

    You need to understand where car PC people are coming from. If tablets and phones would be the ultimate solution, everyone would use them already, hell, even some headunits have had such functionalities for years. But the fact of the matter is that car PC people want more than that, and they wont like it if their software concentrates on closed and restricted mainstream products instead, since car PCs and their functionality were never closed or mainstream because mainstream wont offer everything a car PC can offer.

    What I dont understand is why people want to go there in any case. Phones and tablets in itself are very easy to control in a car already without a FE and car manufacturers are already starting to implement control of those devices via their OEM screens and controllers, making frontends obsolete in that case, and I am willing to bet that you will actually start seeing apps for exactly that from car manufacturers for Android, Windows (Phone) 8 and iOS, so the only market for a frontend will be old cars, which puts frontends back to enthusiasts and ultimately to car PCs. Another point is, that there are already lots and lots of good frontends for car use for phones and tablets!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gullimonster View Post
    None of those points fit me.

    • I will gladly buy hardware components that only work specifically with a software. I have done so in the past and did not regret it.
    • I dont want it to be compatible with any car I own. I dont have a car PC in every car I own plus you can put a car PC in any car, if you really want to. The software doesnt limit here. Your talent for such modifications is the limit or the money you are willing to give someone to do it for you.
    • I dont want it to be infinitely customizable, but at least have the features old head units from the 2000s had, plus the usage of the car PC potential. Because otherwise OF COURSE any headunit, phone or tablet is better.
    • I dont want it to look any way I want. RR, CES, CF and lots of old FE looks are fine, yet a lot different to each other. There is no problem there. Im pretty sure Driveline will turn out with some nice skins too sooner or later, if the people really are that motivated with it.
    • I dont want to do it without any special knowledge. Everyone who wants a car PC should know that its a lot of work and will always cause you to use a lot of tinkering to get everything to work. And even when everything seems to work a problem might turn up again, which you will have to solve. Thats why "ready to use" car PC systems all have failed miserably, since they suggest to customers that its very easy to put a PC into your car.
    ...
    Well, I don't want this to devolve into some kind of overly generalize rant, so I'll just say thanks for the input.

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