Carputer Day. Part 3 of 3
Which UMPC makes a good carputer?
My immediate thought is the ASUS R2H. Its got the built-in GPS and is the most likely to get a good set of in-car accessories for it due to the way its being sold. However, its got a heavy-touch screen that might not be the best for in-car use. I prefer the lightweight touch of the i7200 series for in-car use.
A 7" screen may not be the best choice for some smaller cars though. In my car I have found the 4.2" Vega to be the best choice. For Internet access I need to have the Bluetooth module plugged in but it's not a major issue considering I have an audio cable trailing across the dashboard. The only problem with the Vega is that it hasn't got DirectX support so software like Streetdeck doesn't work. I use 'In Car Terminal' with it.
2 devices that are in the pipeline and ones that I'm watching out for are the Mobits X-15 with a 5.6" screen and the UREN V1 dedicated carputer. The Uren is particularly interesting as its effectively a UMPC built to perform as a Carputer. Its a Korean product though so it may not appear outside that region.
A device I haven't looked at as a carputer until very recently is the Nokia 770 Tablet. Nokia are making a Navigation package available for the device. There's no pricing and at the moment its for Europe only but it looks like a nice way to convert the 770 into a navigation device. Its very low-end as far as carputers are concerned though.
There's one software package that is moving ahead very quickly. Streetdeck. It was born out of the MP3car website and has apparently received funding. Its also had some very nice promotional slots with Intel. There's even a case study on the Intel website now.
As GottaBeMobile pointed out earlier today, the software has a lot of functionality although the navigational aspect is currently aimed at the North American market. A European version is in beta.
It's not cheap. You're paying $200 for software that still under heavy development but it still appears to be a well finished product and shows the way forward.
Interesting reads related to Streetdeck:
- Terry Gold Blog (He's using the product shown above. Over $2000 worth!)
One, slightly simpler, software package is In Car Terminal. This is one that I used on the Vega. You get the software for about $70 which gives you a nice interface for controlling audio and video. You get a basic GPS speedometer and a few bits of other information. Navigation is only available by using back-end software. The same is true of the mobile phone integration so there's some extra costs to be taken into consideration.
If you don't need some of the advanced features of Streetdeck, its worth looking at. I'll probably be doing a deeper review of it in December.
In Car Terminal (ICT) is sold through CarTFT.com.
A project being run at Origamicar.com is worth looking at. Richard Morton has been developing an overlay package for UMPCs and although the project is quiet at the moment, I hear that he's just got a new UMPC and he'll be re-starting work very soon.
Other software :
Centrafuse from Flux Media - Frontend software. In beta at the moment.
RoadRunner - Frontend software. Similar to ICT
Microsoft Streets and Trips / Autoroute is supposed to have some UMPC/touch enhancements in it.
What we're really missing for UMPCs at the moment is mounting solutions. ProClip USA are my focus of attention at the moment but I'd like to see others coming out with solutions. Especially the UMPC vendors. Streetdeck have a prototype R2H cup holder which is shown on Ricardos blog. It looks like a good idea - if you have a cup holder - but there needs to be other solutions.
A Bluetooth A2DP receiver is a tidy way to get audio into your Car hifi. Like this one from Nokia or this Bluetooth cassette adaptor (which looks a bit cheap and doesn't seem to be available any more.) An FM transmitter is possible but I don't recommend it due to the poor sound quality. If you're going to enable digital sound and video in your car go for a wired or digital wireless connection if possible. (Not the Bluetooth headset profile. Its very low quality.)
Someone has already done a great job of providing links for carputers here at Letscommunicate.co.uk
For Carputer related products, take a look at CarTFT.com
And that's about it for the Carputer day at Carrypad. I've learnt a lot while researching the posts today and I hope you have too. There's plenty more to learn but the best way to do that is learning by doing. If you have any carputer/UMPC related links or information, drop me a line as I'd love to know about them.
Its Beer O'Clock here in Germany now, so until the next post, Prost!
Steve / Chippy