Hardware Review: Mobile Computing Solutions Mini ITX 2ghz Computer (and peripherals)
This review in no way is meant as a pro or con for other manufacturers, especially MP3.com. I went with this computer for specific reasons listed below and it is the only computer I have used.
What it is/does: Main Mobile Computer
Reviewed by: Danielkh
Manufacturer: Mobile Computing Solutions
Motherboard: J7F2WE2G-OC-PB (2.0GHz 20 Watt VIA C7 CPU)
Hard Drive: 120G Seagate 2.5" SATA hard drive
DVD/CD Drive Support: External Slot Loading USB DVD ROM/CD R/RW Drive
PCI Expansion Slots: 1x
Video: 1 VGA, 1 Composite Video, 1 S-video (64Mb Shared RAM VIA AGP Uni-Chrome)
USB: 4x USB 1.1/2.0 Support for 2x additional (1x with Internal Bluetooth unit installed)
Daughterboard: PCMCIA Type I/ II and Compact Flash Card reader
Audio: 6ch Surround Sound '97AC audio CODEC
RAM: DDR2 PC4200/533MHz 1024Mb/1Gb
Built in LAN, Harddrive saver card (didn't use), Bluetooth
Power Supply: M2-ATX Intelligent 160W DC to DC Power Supply
Case: Dimensions: 10" x 9.25" x 3.125"/254mm x 235mm x 80mm
Color: Black with light grey logo
Case Ventilation: 1 40 x 40 x 10mm fan
Mounting Position: Universal
Price: $US $599.99
Manufacturer website: www.mo-co-so.com
Purchased at: Ebay.com
Installed pics can be found here:
I used to be one of those commuters that used a laptop in my car. I had one of those great mounts and all, but found vibration was a MAJOR issue. Found that the laptop would freeze at certain points, and if the computer went into anything that required constant read/write/search such as virus check, defrag, search, etc., well, you might as well buy another harddrive.
So when I started looking at computers, I had 2 major requirements:1) Vibration isolation. I wanted to make sure that the manufacturer was aware of the issue and had made appropriate adjustments. (MOCO uses military grade isolation bushings) and 2) PCMCIA support for internet support using cellular card.
When originally connected, there was a problem with the power connector pins not seating properly. I reported this back and the company responded quickly. I wound up hardwiring the computer as I didn't need quick connect capabilities (plus I didn't want to wait any longer to begin the install.....like a kid in a candy store). I am not sure if this was a bad connector or bad manufacturer.
Not sure I am happy with 64mb shared memory for video. Know from my desktop building days that the #1 way to really speed up a computer is with increased RAM and Video RAM. From what I have read, the newer versions of this motherboard are running 128mb shared RAM. Now this isn't really a slam on this computer as all manufacturers use smaller case, and I had to go with PCMCIA support, but would have loved to have a room to mount a video card. Limitted space means limitted resources.
Vibration isolation: After installing the computer and StreetDeck, I wanted to find this area around where I live where someone has actually carved their name in an entire forest. Texas received record rains this year, and a lot of the gravel roads were damaged. While following the directions, I wound up on a road that would litterally rattle your teeth. I thought it would be fine "just a little further", but it never got better. Spent probably 30-50 minutes crawling on this road, music and navigation running the whole time, without a single hiccup. Not sure if anyone knows what the suspension is like on a 350Z, but this was MAJOR!
Computer went into virus check without me knowing it. Finally caught it at 90% and 120 miles. Never a skip. This was exactly the computer I was looking for.
I use a soundblaster live external for music, but used the internal sound card for microphone/voice command capabilities. Works great even at cruising speed.
The internal bluetooth works great for a small keyboard/trackball I use when stopped.
The video is good. Can't say great because of the 64mb shared, but it is good.
USB: Having the 4 ports instead of the usual 2 has been great. I have A LOT of peripherals and haven't had too many problems. Once everything got "shaken out" over the first month, all seems quite stable.
DVD/CDRW: Having this in the console rather than built into the computer is fantastic. Saves opening doors all the time
Temperature: During my original build, I felt the case was getting too hot, so I installed extra fans. When doing some research on other installs, it appears that the temperature is at or below the average. According to manufacturer, this is due to case design.
Support: While this is listed last, it is one of my major concerns. Which would you rather have: Toyota that runs great, but when it breaks, the builder fixes it immediately? Or a farrari that spends 90% of the time in the shop WAITING for a mechanic. Tech support is number 1 in my book (Maybe because I am a field service engineer). This company is fantasic with responding to e-mails. I have recently wanted to upgrade some things on my computer, and rather than try and sell me the most expensive, we discussed the most functional. Another BIG plus.
Along with the motherboards going to 128mb shared, I have also heard rumors that the new models will have built in WiFi and built in HQCT!
Radioshark-- It sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, did I say it sucks? Avoid like the plague. Version one AND two. May work fine in urban areas, but the interface sucks, the reception sucks, just really bad. Waiting for the Boomzbox. WHERE IS IT?!
Griffin PowerMate (MP3.car)-- Absolute lifesaver! Just came out of shoulder surgery. Have the knob set for long click-Voice control, and I tell you, wonder how I lived without it.
Mp3Car USB adapter for XM Direct (mp3car.com)-- A little more road noise than I like, but overall works pretty well. Good buy.
Streetdeck -- A must have. Never spent $200 for software in my life. Well worth it.
Xenarc 700TSV-- Another must have. Fits perfectly in 350Z nav cubby and with the IR support, no need for visible controls. Auto on is perfect!
Soundblaster Live 24 External -- Works great. Good buy.
About all for now. I have a lot more periferals, so will edit this as I think of them.