There are no pics, unforutnately, but if you read my threads you'd understand my experiences. I can take pics, but hey, the car that it was in is out of commission.
built in transflective touch screen
Does the basic functions that a carputer needs
REALLY low power
Cheap all-in-one solution
Low processing power
Few programs and developers
Can view one process at a time
Only one slot for GPS or Wifi
For best results audio, requires a head unit
aux line in
Dual XD 6200 head unit w/ aux in or FM transmitter (just get the head unit)
Seido car kit ($40)
1GB SD Sandisk card( ($50 at CompUsa Midnight madness)
Ambicom CF GPS ($100)
Stereo jack to RCA cable ($6)
Voice Control: Microsoft Voice Command ($25)
Pocket MVP and Pocket Media Player (for videos) (Free)
Pocket Streets 2002 (Free)
Streets and Trips 2005 ($40)
Pocket Navigator ($89...but came wiht the CF GPS)
Dell hit a home run with thier Axim handhelds when they first came out due to the amount of features for an unheard of price. Their Axim x5 Advanced won many awards and has created a few websites
with a loyal following. Rugged, with next day replacement warrenty, and a 10 hour battery, this dual card slot device is an almost ideal platform for a small, basic CarPC, if you desire call it one.
Its ten hour battery life (4 with video and MP3 playing continuously) requires it to have little need for power during your commute, however it does require a head unit with an Aux line, tape adapter, in or an FM transmitter. Having used all three, Aux line in is by far the most impressive and the best, even though it does leave an unsightly cable dangling about.
As computing products go, nothing beats the mobility of the Pocket PC. This translates to a a VERY low power usage. With a 1100 maH battery, this device will last you 4-8 hours with mp3 or video playback between charges. You don't even need a power inverter unless you never want it out of your car. Instant on, instant off, power alarms and warnings, user adjustable power settings, and automatic shut down when the battery is low, there are no surprises or car battery drainage with this machine
Operating system (7/10)
The 3.0 or 4.2 CE .net framework OS, Pocket PC 2002 and Windows
Mobile 2003 resepctively, is a great little operating system, when it works. But that's to be expected since it is Windows, or, a trimmer version of it. This means a learning curve of about an hour for even the most computer illiterate of users
. Its semi ideal for Car PC straight from the factory. It can run for days, switch between programs, comes iwht the basic programs you need, has a great power management system when in auto mode. When this operating system runs, its a 9 out of 10. When it fails, however, it leads to nothing but headaches. Assuming that you do crash your device, you will need to reset your device one of two ways. A soft reset is pretty much like pressing the reset or power button on your cumpter while it's running. All unsaved information is lost, but the computer is fine and boots up in about 10 seconds. Its like windows 98. However, a hard reset, which is for operating system failure, which happened only 4 times in my 3 years of owning one, is like using a system restore CD. Its back to factory settings and you have to go through a 1-2 minute set up and calibration period. ALL data that's not factory on the RAM is lost. Dell solves this problem by adding a storage ROM, which is non volitile, but most programs require that they are stored in the RAM. There are ways around it, like backing up your pocket PC onlo a memory card when you have yoru settings tweaked just as you liked them and saving documents and information on your ROM, but it is a very annoying procedure that happens too often as a hard rest CAN occur when the batteries drain completely or is accidently knocked out.
Now, on to the things that you can't read in a review on aximsite or ZDNet...
Audio Capabilities (9/10)
This device makes an excellent MP3 player. The built in windows media player is very user friendly. However, if you want an EQ, you will need to install Pocket MVP. Personally, i used the EQ on my head unit, as it sufficed. Every button, except the reset button is mappable. I mapped my buttons similarly to the Ipod's layout. With Pocket MVP, you can play any file format that there is a codec for...whcih is pretty much all of them. Windows Media Player is skinable and displays
displays the song properties andinformation on command and in a marqee bar. Touch screen buttons are, ofcourse, included. It even quickly searches for EVERY playable media file on all your storage medais (RAM, ROM, and stroage card. With this power, you can download, make, edit, and transfer playlists on the fly. Creating a custom playlist is as simple as scrolling and checking or unchecking the check boxes next to each song. Another good thing about the MP3 playback is that you ahve the option of turning off the screen to prolong battery life. The reason why it scores a 9- if you have over 100 fsong files on your card, switching between player and playlist may make your song freeze momentarily.
Video capablilites (8/10)
Overall, this device performs very well in terms of video playback. Due to the size of the files, i would suggest getting a USB 2.0 card reader to transfer your files. It receives an 8 due to the fact that not all videos will play on it and you will need to encode
videos to the 320 x 240 display size for best playback. As bad as this sounds, you can put a full length feature film DVD rip, playing exceptionally well, on a 256 card with over 100Mb of room to sparei. If you are willing to take a few extra steps to get it perfect, your suffering will be well worth it. I've watched Mission Impossible with great delight inthe last days of High School. In your car, the BMW film "Ambush" plays amazing. Coupled with a good car stereo, it puts you almost in the action. The size of the LCD detracts a bit from the fun, but it eventually fades away and you will get used to it.
Windows media player will only play .wmv files. Pocket MVP will play everything else. Sorry, there's currently no really good quicktime player yet, but life doesn't revolve around quicktime, just movie trailers. Oh, and YES, it will rotate the image for wide screen viewing.
This is a really quick section. Overally, the PC is a great GPS tool provided you use good software
. It has the ability to map a route, but it takes some time and its best to do it when no tother process is running. Also, running a map while mp3s off the same storage place is highly unreccomended. In terms of hardware, the GPS got a fix in about a minute cold and 15 seconds hot. It was accurate and took off about an hour on the battery life. With the softare, it was quite a mixed pot. As you can see, i had 3 mapping softare. In the end, Pocket Streets, with its free map of West LI and NYC was great for quick "where the hell am I" searching. Pocket Streets and Trips was horrible, but it had its moments. Pocket Navigator was a terriffic program.
Unless you like one player games, chess, or things you thought died with '98-'99 game graphics, don't bother
Overall Control (9/10)
Media based, the pocket pc is an excellent and highly customizable machine. There are three ways to enter your commands- stylus, buttons, which can be fully customized to open programs or do inprogram functions, and voice. Yes, voice. An under 3 meg program Microsoft developed actually did a decent job of recognizing predetermined commands. During audio playback, it will stop all sounds and listen to your bidding Even with a loud muffler, it recognized commands without repeating yourself. Ofcourse, tis not perfect, but it does the job. You can open most programs, call up contact information, even tell it to play music
by genre, artist, or song title. All basic Windows media player commands are already mapped. Hell, it even talks back.
Transflective, 65k. Enough said.
They tried, but what can you do on a 320 x 240 screen? With a Wifi CF card, it gets you online with MSN, ICQ, and AOL IM (uk version is free), but that's the experience. Basic surfing and flash are the best you can hope for. Ofcourse, that means no GPS...
Conclusion- Overall ratings as a Carputer (7/10)
At under $600 MSRP for my setup, its the cheapest carputer you can get. The fact that you can take it out of your car, plug in headphoens, and get a similar experience is also quite nice. Hey, the safest place is in your hands or pocket for such a device. Also, it hides in no time if you get pulled over. It performs the basic CarPC needs, quite well acutally for. I would recommend, if you're planning on building a Car PC and have one, to use it for the interim as a guage to what its like having a PC in the car. You may like it enough to not go though the $1000+ investment for your Car PC. Its an all in one solution to our Car PC problem. You will need your desktop PC to use it to its maximum potential, but i'm guessing you already have one. On ebay, or Aximsite, you can get a better set up for about $200-$300. In my next review of this unit, which is when i finish my Car PC, i will review it a a secondary device in my Car PC with remote desktop and media player controls for the rear seats.