Hardware Review - Clarion Mind
When the clarion mind came out about a year ago, it was priced at $650 MSRP. Hence, no one bought it. Then the price dropped down to $300... and still no one bought it. Now with the price hovering from $130 - $150 this product is amazing for the price. It has everything you could ever need. See below for the specs.
- CPU: 800 MHz Intel Atom
- Memory: 512 MB DDR2
- HDD: 4GB Flash
- Screen: 5.2" 800x480 touchscreen LCD
- Ports: USB, mini USB, sound, power, GPS antenna
- GPS, WIFI, BT built in!
So while not the fastest or biggest car computer, its small form factor, amazing price, and completeness create an amazing device to build upon.
Setup and Usage
The stock OS that comes on here is based on Moblin Linux, and operates very good. Its somewhat snappy, has apps that connect to youtube, google, etc.. and provides an experience somewhat like any stock garmin gps unit. I wasn't happy with it of course (hence why I am an MP3car member.)
I ripped off the stock OS and saved the disk image. I then proceded to try other OS/FEs to see which would work the best.
- LinuxICE 2.0 - while I like the idea of the OS/FE all in one, the OS was lacking drivers for basically everything. And if your in the know about linux, adding drivers is a pain. After a couple days of trying to get stable WIFI drivers.... I gave up.
- Custom nMIND Linux - this is a modified ubuntu distro with all the drivers for the device. It worked great.... except the mind now operated like a standard MID. It did not operate like a car appliance, which I was wanting to use it for.
- TinyXP / RR - Tiny XP is a modified Windows XP with removed fluff that allows it to install in as little as 500 MB and use less than 50 MB ram on a fresh install. I felt at home using the XP OS and I was able to quickly load all the missing drivers. RR on the other hand was less than impressive. Its huge file footprint, sluggish performance, and non-ability to scale to my screens resolution caused me to immediatly drop RR.
- TinyXP/RevFE - Reinstalled TinyXP and installed RevFE. Mike was kind enough to show me a preview of his new skin, which looks great. RevFE was dead simple to install and takes up minimal space. It doesnt have extra fluff which I didnt need such as dual-screen capability, sat radio, etc....
I am still currently using setup #4. Once I have it setup to my liking and working fully, I will provide an update.
Comparison to Other Setups
So while the small HDD, limited CPU, and small screen may put off some people, I think a comparison to show how this really compares is in order.
So while the Mind may not be everyone, I have been looking for a device like this for a long time. Ever since my botched install from a couple years ago, I have been disheartened with carputers in general. With GPS units like garmin getting cheaper and my HU having HD radio, I thought that a need for a carputer was getting lower and lower. However, the Mind has changed my opinion on what a carputer could and should be. Once I get the Mind configured properly and working as a car appliance my way, I am finally be happy.
Also, for people wanting a device like the Mind, but think the CPU is too slow, or the HDD too limiting, and the screen too small, there are other devices out there like this. While more expensive, they have full 7" screens, provide car mounting hardware, and have all the same features as custom car computers with none of the mess.