Hardware Review: IBox In-dash Monitor
Since english is not my native language, I am sure there will be lots of spelling mistake and grammar error, please forgive me.
Hardware review: IBOX 7" in-dash motorized touchscreen monitor
What it does: Touchscreen computer monitor with built-in AM/FM radio
Manufacturer: Star Harmony
Model: IBOX 701A
Specs: 7: 16:9 Widescreen TFT vGA Touchscreen (USB/Serial)
LCD Manufacturer: Hitachi
Purchased from manufacturer directly.
Pros: Easy to install, easy to connect, built-in AM/FM radio, built-in amplifier, motorized, up to 1024 x 768 resolution, reasonable price, autoswitch to backup camera, auto on/off option, turn on/off computer if computer is from same manufacturer, excellent service.
Cons: No direct button for major functions, user menu is confusing, some bugs in monitor firmware.
How easy to operate: 9/10,
How easy to Install: 9/10,
GUI design: 5/10,
Over all: 8.5/10.
Here is the detail review.
I started looking for a carputer system since 2007. What I need is a system doesn't need too many wiring work, single din size, can run GPS software smoothly, and have a built-in radio. About 14 months ago, I happen to see this monitor on internet. It has built-in radio, single din motorized touchsceen, meets my requirment perfectly. The most important thing was monitor can control computer without installing new buttons and new wires. Sorry I am kinda off the topic, let's see some pictures of this monitor.
The panel doesn't look straight, but I think that because of my camera. Monitor quality is better than I expected.
How it look like with powered on, the bottom unit is one din size computer. I will review it later. The small display in the middle shows time, radio frequency etc etc. It is easy to read in darkness, but almost impossible to read under sun light. This is one of my main complains.
Rear View: As you can see, back panel is very neat, only has main connector, antenna and video conntion.
Main connector plugged in
Accessories: You may have noticed that on monitor side, it has DVI connector but on the computer side, it has VGA. Sales explained to me that they use some pins in DVI connector to control computer so I don't need to install additional cable. That make sense but it also means you cannot change video cable if you don't like thin, unshielded OEM video cable. After a year, the cable works fine, not as bad as I think it would. Accessories also include a user manual , a fuse, installation harness and a remote control. This cable has lot of connectors, on monitor side, it has DVI, 2 video input, 1 audio input. On computer side, it has serial/USB control and VGA.
Installation of this monitor was easy, remove the old head unit, connect wire adapter to car head unit wire I bought from Ebay, then pairing all wires. I have to say Star Harmony didn't pay much attention for details. All wires on main connector neither follow color coded protocol, nor have lables. I have to compare with user manual to figure out ground, acc, +12v and eight speak wires.
I spent most of time in wiring video/control/audio cable from dash board to back trunk. Other than that, it didn't took me much time. No need to drill holes on dash board to setup power button. Once everything is set, I push the power button on monitor, everything is up and running as they should.
The biggest complain about this monitor would be terrible user interface. It only has 4 buttons on the panel. It is very confusing. I still don't fully understand how to use them even now. And touchsceen GUI is not anything better. They should have fired the guy who wrote it. Lot of items were misplaced, and too many unnecessary things were thrown in. For example, they even have a control menu to control dvd player software which I totally don't know how to make work, and who is going to need this menu if you run something like roadrunner?
This project was finished about year ago. I only had one problem in the past year. It happened right after I installed whole system on my car. I parked my car for 4 days and battery was drained out. Finally I figured out it was because the monitor was not completely off. So I called Star Harmony and they admitted there was a design problem in that batch. I shipped old one back and get new one from them with any trouble. I also talked with their technical on the phone for a few times after I found some bugs in firmware. They send me a sepcial cable as well as firmware updates so that I can update by myself. Complained that there was hissing noise from speakers while drive, they sent me a noise reduction circuit box free and problem solved.
All in all, I am very satisfied with my choice. It does what I wanted, after a year, it still works good. No overheat in over 100F degree days. Price was reasonable for a in-dash monitor, service is excellent. Just wish they can pay more attention to details and find a new programmer to re-design user interface.
I will add review of computer later when I have time. Thanks for reading.