Which computer do I need?

BlackWidow

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Well guys,

I am looking for a new Lap Top/Carputer, now it has to be able to do three things well.

1: It has to be able to deal with editing and have enough memory and processor speed for the downloads from a 1080 HD video camera. http://www.goprocamera.com/index.php?ar ... oductid=30

2: To handle memory map (or similar) with GPS

3: To handle a good quality CAD.

And all of this I would like to put in the truck, so able to charge from a 12volt supply.

What would you guys recommend?

Lost and confused
Steve
 

Crispin

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I saw the camera on your dash. I thought it was a Tesco special. Wish I had looked closer now. It's perrdy. :ugeek:

Do you want carputer to remain in the car all the time like mine and Jon's or you want a laptop you can take out?

[I'll move this thread to an ICE / Carputer type section in bit]
 

BlackWidow

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It will, I think have to be moveable as I am running out of space in the truck. So when the trip is not there the computer will be. Also when doing the design work with the CAD I will need to be able to connect to the tinternet at home.


Good idea having ICE carputer section.

Steve
 

Crispin

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Laptop has many advantages, some disadvantages. The carputer has the inverse advantages and disadvantages.
You could use a table (laptop without a keyboard). Jon had a nice one he was trying or had seen. I'm sure he'll pop up here...

My carputer (Which, BTW works perfectly now!) hides under the passenger seat. The only ugly part is the monitor which sits where your trip meter sits. Not sure if you can have both / mount the differently.
Carputer:
Build yourself (or with help etc) so you can make it do whatever you want.
Screen is light and compact
Hides away under the seat


Laptop:
Works out the box, will probably never go wrong (hardware etc)
Remove it and all trace of it is gone (carputer leaves behind screen mount and cables)
Is heavy to mount (a laptop is heavier than the carputer screen)

I think it is Andy who swears by the Toughbook (laptop) under the seat and a remote monitor. Basically best of both worlds but hardware you know will always(!) work. (Mine stopped working in -16 degrees)

For any option, you can have a wifi connection in the car. When it is parked outside your house, it logs on to your home network where you can then copy files to it etc.
I do this and it works well.


I would say if you want to build you own and don't mind swearing at stuff, build one. If however, the innards if a computer scare you, Toughbook would be best.
My carputer has taken a long time to get right. Lots of hardware failures 'n stuff but now I am happy with it...

Not sure if this helps - seems, all over the place..
 
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Andy Harvey

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Crispin is right, I swear by the Toughbook, if you can get one cheap a CF-29 would do all you need (a late one with a faster processor or a CF-30 if you can find one for less than the price of the car). My CF-28 should do it - especially if you use an SSD disk like the police do - they have a version of the CF-28 which they use purely for in vehicele cmera work - filming speeding vehicles etc). You can get in vehicle mounts from Gamber Johnson and RAM mount. Downside of the CF-28 is that as standard it only supports USB 1.1 however I have a 2 port USB 2 PCMCIA card and a bluetooth card which also fits in one of the PCMCIA slots (the CF-28 has a hidden one which you need to take off a bit of the casing. You can get a WIFI driven screen which gives you full touchscreen capability (the CF-VDW07 screen) on a 7 inch screen and you can also get an inbuilt GPS receiver although it is only of use outside a vehicle as it has no external antenna (although it can be modified to fit one).

The Toughbook is Waterproof, drive over proof (they have been tested with a Hummer - actually you can even get a Hummer badged one), bullet proof up to a point and proably bomb proof. They are the choice of most of the US police forces and a large part of the worlds military.

The CF-28 (mark 3) only has a 1ghz Pentium 3 processor but it runs Windows XP fine (if a little slow compared to my Dell) and memory map connecting to a bluetooth GPS receiver/ It has a 13.3 inch XGA touch screen and the wireless screen is daylight readable.

if you want something that you can rely on at all times the toughbook is one of the only truly rugged systems out there.

You can put together a reaslonable system for less than £500 if you are prepared to wait on ebay. My Toughbook cost £250 including shipping from the states, the wireless touchscreen was £80 or there abouts although they often sell for around £500-£600 and on various other ancilliary parts (waterproof keyboard, touchscreen - mine didn't come with it originally, new stylus, Bluetooth card, USB 2 Card and original carrying sling) coming to about £150 all in.

Plus the added advantage is you don't really need to fit it in the car, you can't break it even if you just sit it on the back seat and connect it to the cigarette ligther for power (you can get original Panasonic in vehicle chargers for about £20), you can mount the wireless screen somewhere on the dash (I superglued a HAMA mount on the back of mine so it now fits on a standard Winscreen suction mount), fire it up and away you go - you could even connect the Audio out to one of the FM audio transmitters so you can use it for music as well. Even if it drops off the back seat it isn't going to break - the HDD is shock mounted and it is tested on drops of over 1M onto concrete for it's MIL certification.

On mine when I get around to fitting the mount, I will be extending a USB cable to the front and fitting three in panel USB sockets for a USB GPS mouse, Keyboard and handheld trackball mouse. I already have the keyboard (A lighted mini one) and the trackball. That way I can use the Bluetooth for other things (probably connection to my 3G mobile phone for internet access out in the field.

Oh and just to add, as Crispin said, computers start to fail in low temperatures but the Toughbook has been shown to work in the Antarctic as well as in the middle of the hottest deserts.

Just to add I don't work for Panasonic :D , I'm just a convert after 2 1/2 years of ownership and no failures.
 

Jon Wildsmith

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The Asus T91 I have is fine for MM but I doubt it would cope very well with CAD or video editing especially being such a small screen.

Do you want the portability of a laptop for other uses or just the ones you've mentioned? My car PC is easily removed to the house where it can be used with a normal monitor and keyboard - that's what I do for installing updates etc rather than sit in the car ;) and it's just like a desktop PC then. That kind of set up would give you a car PC and a desktop PC but not the portability of a laptop.
 

BlackWidow

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This is where things get difficult, the spec for the Hero camera says 3.2ghz processor minimum with 1 gig of ram minimum and a dedicated graphics card if only 1 gig of ram.

That little lot, I am assuming is a monster of a computer and as soon as I put those figures into search engines I get zero returns.

I could go either way with set up, I like Jon's set up it covers all bases, I do like the Toughbook but I don't think it is going to be powerful enough. The laptop with a touch screen is also good for space and power.

Steve
 

Rob

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From the manual:
Windows System Requirements for Full HD 1080p and 720p 60 fps Playback:
• Microsoft Windows® XP (Service Pack 2 or later) or Vista
• 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 or faster
• Direct X 9.0c or later
• At least 1 GB of system RAM
• Video card with at least 256MB of RAM

you will find it hard to find a 3.2ghz laptop. But a 3.2ghz P4 is 5 or 6 year old desktop processor and newer processors with much slower clock rates are far better. You can safely assume that any modern dual core laptop chip will be able to play back 1080p video. Take note an Atom processor will struggle. It you stay clear of the netbooks then you should be fine. 1gb of ram is bare minimum these days and you will only find this amount on netbooks that only run XP. Dx9.0c is also very old, most laptops (not netbooks) come with an onboard graphics card with will be at least dx10 and will be more capable of decoding HD video regardless of their 3D performance.

One more thing (sorry for stating the obvious) 1080p is very high quality video, and on a laptop screen you will not see the benefit of such high resolutions. You would need to go up to a 22 inch screen (or more on older screens) to see the benefits.
 

Gav Peter

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Jon Wildsmith said:
The Asus T91 I have is fine for MM but I doubt it would cope very well with CAD or video editing especially being such a small screen.

Do you want the portability of a laptop for other uses or just the ones you've mentioned? My car PC is easily removed to the house where it can be used with a normal monitor and keyboard - that's what I do for installing updates etc rather than sit in the car ;) and it's just like a desktop PC then. That kind of set up would give you a car PC and a desktop PC but not the portability of a laptop.

So whats you car pc system then Jon & whats the Asus for?

I'd like to install a dedicated touch screen & GPS system for running memory map - once thats up & running, that'd be that - sorted!!! It'd be good to have it transferable between the two trucks though... Don't want much do I?? ;-)

So, as per the system in RIP80, whats the current setup you are running/developing for the 100? Or is it all hush hush... ;-)

Cheers
 

Gav Peter

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Just spotted that Maplin thingy Crispin posted on another thread - wow...

I've hooked on to a formumn for that to see if anyone has done the MM/GPS thing with that. OK, 5" is a small screen but if that can be cobbled together with a GPS system, I have MM already, could be a neat little system...

Did you get any further with the Maplin MID thing Cris?

Cheers
 

Crispin

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Nope, never got around to it. I still have the unlocked Navman which is like a normal PDA now. Just not had a chance to try it out. Maybe, one day...

If you want an easy system to move between trucks, the toughbook would be easy, as is my setup. Unplug a few wires (about 3/4) and move it. That's assuming you have a monitor in both.

With hindsight, I would use a MID style jobbie as a secondary unit. Using my setup on Monday highlighted the need for a big screen, or, a paper map like Steve had. You can see where you are as well as your destination. On a small screen, this is not as easy. It does shine though for the details on a confusing crossing so not all that bad.
 

Jon Wildsmith

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Gavlad said:
So whats you car pc system then Jon & whats the Asus for?

So, as per the system in RIP80, whats the current setup you are running/developing for the 100? Or is it all hush hush... ;-)

My 100 has the RIP80 computer in it which is just a 1.8GHz VIA motherboard/CPU combo with 4GB RAM and lives in a VoomPC case. It's nippy enough for me and it would cope with home video editing or CAD but not to a profesional level, you need a lot more grunt for that. Putting too much grunt in a little box that's probably hidden away somewhere will just lead to heat problems though IMO. For normal in car type applications the 1GHz VIA system that was in the red car is plenty good enough and it's cheap and makes even less heat. Not much use for CAD or video editing though I don't think.

For the screen, just put it on a quick release mount, get a spare cable for it and it will transfer easily between the trucks.

The Asus is a toy I'm experimenting with that has some potential as a solution but also has extra compromises. It's a nice little touch screen tablet PC, small, doesn't weigh a lot, runs mapping well enough, external power is 12v so quite easy to power from the truck, WIFI, BT etc built in, solid state hard drive but only 16GB plus 2 memory card slots for more storage and USB ports so an external drive is also an option. Main down side for use in a car is that the screen is quite shiney but I haven't given it a real world test yet to see if glare is more of a problem than with my usual in car monitor.
 

Gav Peter

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Okee dokes, I have decided need to put some effort into a carputer for MUX...

Requirements:

1. Touch screen
2. Run Memory Map
3. Hook in seperate GPS system
4. Integrate MM with GPS system
e. Transferable with realitive ease to Tonka

So we're looking at a dedicated route planning come navigation system here... Now't clever but I would appreciate some IT input/assistance as to precisely what bits to buy & build having looked at a tough book type system at nearly 2 grand!!!!!

Memory Map software I have is OS Edition Version 5.0.0 Build 608 if that makes any odds

I was thinking of buying something like the Garmin Oregan for the GPS which could be used away from the truck but stand to be advised if a better system is worthy...


I'll give you, hmmm, ten minutes before I demand an update ;-)

Cheers you IT geeks :ugeek: ;) :p :p :lol: :lol:

In all seriousness, this'll be a good exercise for me to try & (re-) establish some IT crudentials.

6. Gotta have a spell checker ;-)

LETS GO!!!
 

Crispin

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If you want an out the box system, Toughbook is the only (real) way. I am sure Andy will be along and give some ideas on the secondhand market.


If you want to build one:

The last 3 items are not specific to the carputer. The GPS is expensive. I got a couple off ebay for £4!!! One has the small antenna which is stuck to the dash, box of tricks under the dash. Works very well. It's non removable but for £4 ;)

That's about it really if you want to build one yourself. Depending on how good you are at following instructions, it's not that bad.
Normal Windows, which you may or may not have to buy if you have a copy, is easy to install. The whole setup will memory map, microsoft mappoint and garmin mapsource all at once and not break out a sweat.
A good bit of software to buy is GPSGate. It allows your different programmes to share the GPS. Not essential but handy. It comes in at about £20.

Hopefully the above is not garbage - I've not slept much :|
 

Jon Wildsmith

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I would get the VoomPC case. Shame the M1-ATX PSU's are out of stock, I like those. For GPS I like the cheap second hand Garmin GPS II to IV with an external antenna. You have to get the power/data lead at the right price though or it stops being cheap. The GPS mice seem to struggle when the coverage is patchy but that could just be the specific ones we tried. Somewhere in the Tardis there should be a spare computer from the red car ...
 

Andy Harvey

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Crispin you know me so well.

Just got a newer Toughbook CF-51 (semi rugged) which I'm going to try out with my wireless touchscreen - it should work and then you have a core 2 system with 4GB ram and could get the desktop docking station to work in the car - they don't make a car mount version for it unlike my CF-28 (and also the CF-29 and CF-30 which are the fully rugged Toughbooks.

Good thing on the Toughbook you have a fully function laptop out of the vehicle and a fully functioning in-car computer inside it. GPS, WIFI, Bluetooth, Music, in car office etc.

Second hand you can pick up a CF-28 MK3 (1ghz processor, max 3/4 GB ram) for about £250, car mount for around 50 -100 if you look around and wait long enough on ebay (I waited about 3 months to get mine), Wireless touchscreen anywhere between £80 (what I paid for mine including shipping) and about £600. You could always connect up one of the in car screens through VGA and USB for a full touchscreen. My CF-28 also has a full touchscreen on board (I added this option after I got the computer and paid about £60 for it used). The Wireless touchscreen (CF-VDW07) is also daylight readable and has enough battery life for about 1 1/2 hours but can also be charged by an in car charger. I have Memory Map on mine which works great and the toughbook is connected to a bluetooth GPS mouse (a TomTom one).

Main shortcoming on the CF-28 is speed, it's relatively low spec machine these days but however it is built like a brick outhouse, has a shock mounted hard drive and a magnesium case and is pretty much bomb proff which is why most of the armies in the world (an the US police) use these things (CF28/29/30). The CF-29 and 30 address the speed issue but are far more costly - CF-29 with a 1.2ghz procesor will start at around the £450 mark on ebay.

Panasonic also make a specific vehicle mount min computer called the CF-07 which is made to work with the CF-VDW07 screen exclusively. The box on this is small and neat and again like most Toughbooks built to last.

Final thing on the toughbooks, being dust and waterproof means that they don't get dirty inside like some other computers - they don't have vent holes to suck in dirt through. In 3 years I have never had a forced restart on my CF-28 even though I use it as an everyday machine - you don't get dirty connectors on memory boards so none of the weird nasties you get even on lots of desktop machines. It starts up everymorning and goes to sleep everytime, no issues, no nasties just reliable even running XP service pack 3 and Office 2007.

I can't rate the Toughbook highly enough, it is like the Land Cruiser of the computer world - it just works which is all I want, not that botherered about speed for complex gaming, just web, email, document access, Mapping and iTunes.
 

Gav Peter

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Spectacular response gents, as ever - many thanks. There goes tomorrow's work effort as I ponder the options...

For now though - Gav go bed... Heap big eye bags, children not sleep... :)
 

Crispin

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Jon Wildsmith said:
I would get the VoomPC case. Shame the M1-ATX PSU's are out of stock, I like those. For GPS I like the cheap second hand Garmin GPS II to IV with an external antenna. You have to get the power/data lead at the right price though or it stops being cheap. The GPS mice seem to struggle when the coverage is patchy but that could just be the specific ones we tried. Somewhere in the Tardis there should be a spare computer from the red car ...


I would go with Jon's recommendation regarding the case. I have M350 Universal Mini-ITX Enclosure - Black and suspect it's part of my RFI issue.

Jon, there was a company / group of people I found years ago which made the connectors for GPSs. They would send you the plug, you would send back what you thought it was worth. A strange concept but seemed to work. I bought two from them for my Garmin for about £4 and soldered on the serial / USB cable myself.
I'll dig out the details.
The data cables are an absolute rip-off when it comes to these things.
 

Crispin

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Found the data cable / plug details but as it's OT, there's a post here
 
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