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Thread: My take on Street Deck.

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate pcmofo's Avatar
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    My take on Street Deck.

    I have had my car pc for almost a year now in various stages of completion. I have also tried several different software solutions for both navigation and front ends. I have also used a laptop with map point and serial GPS for several years prior to having a car pc. For a year I had a Samsung i730 with an external Blue Tooth GPS receiver running Tom Tom software. I am a senior Information Science and Technology student at Penn State University and have installed every piece of electronics for this computer system in my car personally and with careful planning. PCMOFO.com

    It is with these facts in mind that I would like to voice my opinion of Street Deck software. Agree or disagree with my opinion, that’s fine, but I would like to talk about my experience with street deck after a few months of use. I do this in hopes that I may encourage further quality work on this product as well as provide suggestions to enhance it as well. I realize that I have more negative than positive this to say about Street Deck in this post but that’s because Street Deck already does so many things right I am basically nit picking at its flaws to make it near perfect.

    The Good.

    Street Deck is an easy to install and configure complete all in one solution for your car computing needs supporting a wide variety of hardware and features. I can customize the look and feel of Street Deck by making new skins etc or adding features on my own. This is almost unheard of in any other product. Also, the Street Deck developers actually listen to the end users input to develop a better product.

    The Bad.

    1) Navigation. There I said it. Sure it works and it has some great features, but I have used several navigation systems and I just really wish that it functioned like Tom Tom. All of my hardware was purchased from MP3Car.com and therefore all of it should work together well. Yet when I used the BU-353 GPS receiver with Street Deck its hit or miss. Sometimes it tells me I have a weak signal, sometimes I have no signal, and sometimes it shows me I am driving next to the road I am actually on.

    2) I have used the EXACT same hardware with MS Streets and Trips with no problem what so ever. Yet street deck feels sluggish and inaccurate. I will make a turn and 5 seconds later it will rotate the map and show that I am turning. I’m not sure why this is happening but I know its not my hardware’s fault as it works fine with other software.

    3) Street Deck has a HOME button, which is great, and they have the most recent destinations entered in but no favorites etc. With my Tom Tom software I could click “add to Favorites” and wherever I was, that exact spot was saved as whatever name I chose. If I follow my friend out to some guys house for a party or something and its in a rural area I want to save that location as “joe’s house” or something incase I need to find it again later. Renaming addresses that I entered in is also extremely useful in general. I don’t want to remember my friends street names, I want to be able to be anywhere and click their name and get directions to their house. I could do this with tom tom.

    4) While we are on the whole Navigation issue… why does Street deck cripple some of its features like Search or video playback while I am driving. Yes, its true you have to be an idiot if you try to drive and watch video at the same time but is that really what happens? NO. When I drive I mainly use navigation and mp3 playback. But what if I am driving with someone else in the passenger seat? Maybe they want to watch a video or a video podcast? Maybe they want to Search through my music collection to see if I have a song they like. What if they are the navigator and they are searching for streets, restaurants etc while I am driving? I realize these safety features were put in place to protect people but their should be a way to disable them or turn safety off so that the passenger can fully utilize the system. Also, when driving I cant close street deck because I cant access the power menu while moving. If street deck hangs or crashes I can restart.

    5) Some other ideas I have had for the navigation system might help make it a little more user friendly. For example, build a web site script or external software to generate maps for Street Deck. I know when I go on a long trip I plan it out on Google Maps etc, this is difficult to do on Street Deck. Why not somehow be able to plan a route on your home PC then import that “route” into street deck? When receiving turn by turn directions maybe flash a huge “Right arrow” etc overlaid on the entire screen, this would allow you to disable the horrid voice that speaks the directions to you.

    6) On to the music section. Every time I turn my car on it’s a crap shoot as to whether or not the song I was just listening to will resume from where it was last or not. This typically happens if I have selected a specific artist or album etc. Also when I turn on my car and all music is showing sometimes it wont auto play and pressing play will do nothing, I have to select a specific song before it will do anything. This is especially annoying for podcasts. I drive 2 hours a day 6-7 days a week, listening to podcasts are the only thing that keep me sane. If I stop to get gas then turn my car back on it will forget what track I was listening to and where I was. Something like, “all songs with the genre of ‘Podcast’ should save information about where to resume if the track has been paused”.

    7) Playlists should also be able to be made on the fly like on an ipod. Select New Playlist, enter a name, then go around selecting songs to add to it, or press and hold over a song to add it to the current play list. Anything that can make the media player function more like iTunes the better. What does the Queue music button Do? I would assume it would allow me to play one song then select a second and third song to play after the first, creating a Queue. Kind of like the music system at Hollister on the touch screen in the walls. This would be a great feature as typical usage of the car pc by my passengers includes playing a song then browsing my collection finding other songs to listen to. Then they have to wait for the first song to finish before they can start the second song and begin searching for a third song, a huge waist of time.

    8) Street Deck crashes nearly every other time it is loaded in my car. I have set my pc to auto hibernate when I shut the car off and its just so annoying that it crashes on boot or it crashes if I try to filter my music too many times. If I select a genre then after a few songs select an artist it might just crash, or if I go back to select an album from all music it will crash. I have never had software crash so often. What good is error reporting if I don’t have a net connection when it crashes? Sometimes when Map point loads internally (when I switch to navigation) it will crash. Why not load map point on boot? I would rather wait 5 more sec when it boots to wait another 10 after I have been using it for a while.

    9) I realize that MANY of my issues can be solved with a better UI or skin. Little things like adding a clock to every page would be simple fixes that would improve the software. ( I have to go to the home screen anytime I want to see the time) additions to navigation like seeing current time, time to destination, or trip logging features etc could greatly enhance the user experience. You have to remember the reason I have a car pc in the first place is I drive every day 2+ hours and I want to listen to music, podcasts, navigate, and take phone calls all with one device (yeah I wont get into the bt phone issue now) I realize that Street Deck relies on windows to generate its graphics but I would almost be happier if Street Deck were a custom flavor of Linux that took less time to boot and was custom tailored to work better as a complete OS/Font end.

    That’s really all I can say for now. Great job on Street Deck so far guys, I love the software but it does have some minor issues that could make it perfect and far worth the price. If you can take anything from my babbling let it be that you should make Street Deck more like Tom Tom or iTunes, simple to use and effective, it should “just work”.

    -Brett
    Dual Core Atom - 512MB - 60GB SSD - 2010 Lilliput - SiRF Star III - BT - Wi-Fi - Street Deck - Rear Camera - Full Audio System

    Project Log


    |----------| Software
    |----------| Hardware
    |----------| Fabrication
    |----------| Installation

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate Caelric's Avatar
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    Good review, and I agree with you on most issues.

    The one issue that bothers me the most (aside from the disabling of features while moving, which is beating a dead horse around here) is the non-resumption and/or non-retaining of playlists or music selected when it resures after boot.


    Every time I boot (which is how my carPC runs, it does a full boot on engine start) I have to reselect the playlist, which takes a while, since it also has to read all the music (25 gB of music). Most of the free frontends are able to handle remembering the playlist on boot, why can't SD?

    Honestly, with all the current issues, I am merely waiting for the next upgrade, and seeing if they fix this specific issue. If not, I will be discontinuing use of SD, doing my best to get a partial refund, and also doing my best to let people know of the faults of SD.

    The two things keeping me waiting are hoping that they fix this issue, and the very easy skinnability of SD, which no other front end has (that I have found)

    (fingers crossed)
    Dave
    2005 Infiniti G35 6MT Coupe Black/Black
    Core Duo CarPC
    CarDomain page

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate pcmofo's Avatar
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    If you go into your power settings in the control panel you can set "when I press my power button" to "hibernate" instead of shut down. Then by using an intelligent psu, windows will hibernate and then resume when you start and stop your car.
    Dual Core Atom - 512MB - 60GB SSD - 2010 Lilliput - SiRF Star III - BT - Wi-Fi - Street Deck - Rear Camera - Full Audio System

    Project Log


    |----------| Software
    |----------| Hardware
    |----------| Fabrication
    |----------| Installation

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate Caelric's Avatar
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    Oh, I know that. It's not how I want to run my CarPC, though.
    2005 Infiniti G35 6MT Coupe Black/Black
    Core Duo CarPC
    CarDomain page

  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate StaggRLee's Avatar
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    I have had my car pc for almost a year now in various stages of completion. I have also tried several different software solutions for both navigation and front ends. I have also used a laptop with map point and serial GPS for several years prior to having a car pc. … and have installed every piece of electronics for this computer system in my car personally and with careful planning.
    You obviously spent a lot of time and effort on fabrication and installation but when it comes to H/W, you went cheap and now you're paying for it IMHO. In short, I think you brought a knife to a gun fight. Sorry to have to say that but I made the same mistake myself the first two times around …

    I’ve had my current setup for over a year but this is my third carputer and third front end in 3 years. I’ve been running SD since May ’05 when it was in its first public Beta. I also exercised a lot of diligence this time around in planning everything around the PC (and the PC around the S/W requirements) including power conditioners, very expensive cables and a lot of trial and error. And I learned a lot on the way but it was expensive…

    The main reason this is my third system is that I chose a VIA board for the first two. They suck! I’ve RMA’d several boards for sudden catastrophic failures (think smoke… ), had nothing but stability problems with them when they did run, and just overall got disgusted with VIA and their ****-poor end-user support. They’re far more concerned with volume OEMs and ODMs than the CarPC or case-modder base that is their bread and butter. I still have two MII 10k's. Anyone want to buy them?

    I got sick and tired of dealing with the house of cards that are their proprietary drivers (the UniChrome/CLE266 drivers are *THE* worst) - and that coupled with their unreliable H/W just makes them a poor choice.

    They seem to have haphazard release control too. Old drivers are floating around between the VIA site, vpsd, CDs, US vs Taiwan sites etc. etc. and a driver-salad that has them all working well together has reached the status of folklore on the vpsd forums. Everyone seems to be forever in search of the holy grail “Gold” configuration. In the process the registry and drivers can get all gummed up and then you have to flatten it and start over.

    Even at their best and working though, they’re still extremely underpowered for 3D rendering and MPEG playback. Try reducing the frame rate in SD down to 15 fps. That may help. If you have the option to install a PCI video card with DX/D3D support; then definitely try that.

    Many of the issues you describe are most likely underlying driver issues - with the exception of the NAV usability issues - whether with VIA or third-party drivers, or the interaction between them.

    For example: I had no end of power management problems with USB devices disappearing on resume or bugchecks when you tried to access the device. Turns out that both Xenarc (TSV) and my GPS antenna (TripNAV TN-200) both use serial->USB bridges from FTDI. Both the Xenarc/TripNAV drivers were horribly out-of-date and weren’t logo’d for Windows. The FTDI reference drivers were newer and logo’d - and they resolved that issue. Check Prolific (the bridge mfgr. for your GPS rec’vr.) for better drivers.

    You may be able to get it all working well but in the long-run it would be cheaper and easier to move to a Pentium M board from iBase or Commel. I did and I now get to enjoy my PC instead of continually tinkering with it. It’s the dollar you don’t spend at the outset which costs you ten times that in the end.

    I can assure it is not StreetDeck that is crashing your system or directly causing crashes in any way other than placing demands on the hardware/drivers that they can’t meet. I have had StreetDeck lock up on me and had to wait for the deadman timer to kick in, and I’ve had it just shutdown with an error reporting dialog but never a bugcheck. Bugchecks and reboots are almost always due to kernel-mode drivers not user-mode applications.

    People blame SD because it is what they are seeing/using. It is one of the reasons why the SD bundles consist of a very small subset of sanctioned H/W from the many low-power PC options out there. I doubt they would have sold you a VIA M board as a suitable platform for SD.

  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate Caelric's Avatar
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    Well, my carPC is more than enough to run SD at it's highest settings. I can guarantee my problems are not the result of a hardware problem.
    2005 Infiniti G35 6MT Coupe Black/Black
    Core Duo CarPC
    CarDomain page

  7. #7
    Constant Bitrate StaggRLee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caelric View Post
    Well, my carPC is more than enough to run SD at it's highest settings. I can guarantee my problems are not the result of a hardware problem.
    Well... What he's talking about is crashes and ACPI problems - in addition to UI lock-outs/usability issues. One's drivers/hardware-related, the other's application. I wasn't addressing the latter which is your biggest gripe about SD judging by your posts.

    But if I'm wrong about that, and you're having crashes and kernel bugchecks, I offer the same advice again: Check your drivers, system event logs, SD logs and worst case set XP to capture a kernel dump (not the default minidump) and post it up here.

    I'll be happy to take a look at it and can pretty well guarantee that (if the culprit is evident) it will be a driver and it won't have anything directly to do with SD other than it is using the H/W.

  8. #8
    Maximum Bitrate techy101's Avatar
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    You can set a gesture to do the "Add curent location to favorites" function. It's one of the options in the input menu.

  9. #9
    FLAC is for flaccid parksgm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by techy101 View Post
    You can set a gesture to do the "Add curent location to favorites" function. It's one of the options in the input menu.
    There was a button on the default skin in an earlier version of SD that was removed due to screen real estate limitations.

    Or so says another thread 'round here somewheres...

    Quote Originally Posted by pcmofo View Post
    8) Street Deck crashes nearly every other time it is loaded in my car. I have set my pc to auto hibernate when I shut the car off and its just so annoying that it crashes on boot or it crashes if I try to filter my music too many times....Sometimes when Map point loads internally (when I switch to navigation) it will crash.
    SD crashes 1 in 5 times on resume for me as well...not sure why, but I'm planning to do a reinstall (read: clean install) of SD and Windows and all my device drivers when I finally complete my installation. Hopefully that will help...but I'll follow the suggestions outlined above as well.

    People blame SD because it is what they are seeing/using. It is one of the reasons why the SD bundles consist of a very small subset of sanctioned H/W from the many low-power PC options out there. I doubt they would have sold you a VIA M board as a suitable platform for SD.
    Spot on. SD is tuned for the ONE specific combo of hardware they offer...I see very few posts around here complaining of hardware issues from the guys who bought "factory equipment". :-)

  10. #10
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    The StreetDeck team realizes that there are shortcomings in the navigation software. That's why it has been discussed that StreetDeck would be developing a new navigation mapping engine in the future.
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

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