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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 9006 stock audiophile system w/ in dash 6 cd changer and factory sub, and a delphi XM2GO radio.

I'm pretty happy with the sound quality of this system, and I like the cd changer. My only complaint is the sound quality of the FM modulator. Sound quality from a CD is vastly improved over the Satellite radio.

I want to integrate touchscreen GPS navigation and a computer capable of playing MP3's in the vehicle.

Funds are limited. I have at my disposal the following:

A P2 500 mhz Dell lattitude w/ docking station and wireless card. I would be willing to use this for a dedicated "Carputer" as I don't use it for anything else atm.

An IPAQ pocket PC with wifi, bluetooth, and a NERO media interface that allows me to stream music from the laptop.

The XM install I have currently looks *very* clean, with no wires showing, and an extra 12 v adapter was rigged behind the dash to keep my existing 12V free. I would like to maintain a clean look in the vehicle.

Of the options I have considered, I could:

1. Install the latpop under the passenger's seat via the docking station and rig a switch to turn it on from the driver's seat, then Install a PDA car cradle with integrated GPS (I already have mapping software on the PDA and Computer), or use a blutooth GPS receiver. I could stream all the laptop music and video to the PDA and get an FM transmitter that would run off the PDA audio out.
Pros: Cheap ($80 for the GPS and cradle)
Cons: Small PDA screen size, no control over laptop computer unless I undock it, inferior audio quality via FM overly "busy" dashboard (both PDA and XM radio mounted).

2. Buy a 7 inch touchscreen and mount it to the dash. Omit the PDA entirely and simply use bluetooth or wired GPS to connect to laptop and control everything from there.
Pros: Bigger screen size, can control laptop from touchpad.
Cons: Price of touchscreen, possibility of theft (with the PDA I would be able to easily take it with me), even "busier" dashboard, FM transmitter still needed for audio).

3. Buy a new HU with motorized 7 inch touchscreen that is XM ready and has an Aux In. Wire computer to HU (do they even sell HU with a touchscreen that you can control with a carputer?).
Pros: Clean clean clean!!! Cool factor. Much better sound quality in general.
Cons: PRICE!!!! Loss of XM2GO mobility (I don't want to pay for more than one satellite radio). CD player loss.

4. Custom Mounted 7" LCD inside of dash. Everything is wired to the computer and run from it including the XM2GO.
Pros: Incredibly clean. Cool Factor.
Con: Sound Quality??? (Would a computer with a good sound card be on par with a 9006 audiophile HU?), wiring the car speakers and sub, LOSS OF HU! :(.

Opinions and insight, please!
 

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Keep in mind that the laptop's hard drive is going to be subject to quite a bit of shock. I really don't think this setup would last very long. You'd need a shock absorbing mount like they use in police cars.
 

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There are touchscreen HU's out that will allow you to navigate through folders on your laptop so you can pick songs. IMO, that's the best way to go. Mounting shouldn't be a problem, but you have to make sure you keep some decent airflow over the laptop. Latitude laptops have a problem overheating if kept in an area with little airflow. You would probably have to get rid of the stock HU and wire up the audiophile system some other way. Bluetooth or FM Transmitters would be a bad idea imo. Most of the HU's I'm talking about have aux in so you would be able to run a cable from the laptop to the HU with no problem.

This'll be an interesting project. Let us know how it goes!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
IMO, that's the best way to go. Mounting shouldn't be a problem, but you have to make sure you keep some decent airflow over the laptop. Latitude laptops have a problem overheating if kept in an area with little airflow.
Under the passenger seat (if it will fit... haven't tested yet) seems to be a perfect location for a laptop then. Plenty of airflow from the floor vents. I could easily download some CPU temp monitoring software to test this and alert me if the CPU starts to overheat. It will also shut the laptop down in the event of an overheat. If I mount a docking station under there and hardwire everything into it i wouldn't lose the portability functionality of the laptop and could take it out when i'm worried about theft. The alternative to an under the floor mount would be the trunk.

You would probably have to get rid of the stock HU and wire up the audiophile system some other way. Bluetooth or FM Transmitters would be a bad idea imo. Most of the HU's I'm talking about have aux in so you would be able to run a cable from the laptop to the HU with no problem.
I'm a complete newbie when it comes to car audio. I'm pretty good with wiring and wiring up home audio systems. I'm also good with electronics.

I"m leaning towards buying an LCD touchscreen monitor only and installing it in-dash. I will wire it up to the laptop under the seat (running media engine), then buy a bluetooth GPS unit to work with the laptop (and my pda too... that way if we take my G/F's car somewhere and need the nav unit, we have it.) I will keep my XM radio.

So... I need a way to wire up the computer sound card and XM radio to my car speakers. Will an amp work for this? IS there a way to incorporate 4.1 surround sound capabilities of a good sound card into an amp that then distributes it to the stock speakers and sub?

I'm going to mount an exterior DVD/RW drive in my glovebox and run the USB to the laptop. I'd like to retain the ability to just *pop in* a DVD or CD.

This system will also allow a passenger to download music or video content on to my IPAQ if they don't want to watch or listen to the music that we're listening to on long car trips. I can also buy a wireless keyboard to use with my laptop for my internship as an in-home therapist. I can sit down in my car after a client visit, grab the keyboard, and write notes. The IPAQ can connect wirelessly to my laptop, so I'll be able to easily transfer content from my home PC to my car laptop too.

Damn... i'm getting excited!

Feedback on the AMP would be VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
jmdomini said:
Keep in mind that the laptop's hard drive is going to be subject to quite a bit of shock. I really don't think this setup would last very long. You'd need a shock absorbing mount like they use in police cars.
Laptop hard drives are made for shock and abuse. That's why they run so much slower than typical computer hard drives. (5400 rpm vs. 7200)
 

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www.mp3car.com
find your answers there you will.
You will also see that both Laptop Hardrives and the Bigger Hardrives will work just fine in the car. And yes this setup can last quite a while. I would recommend, however, to get one of those airflow mats that go under the laptop. Nice and cool is the name of the game.

Regarding audio, yes a carputer setup can meet and beat ur current sound system. However, amps are almost always a must. A good audio card will have the RCA outputs in them. I'm just unsure if they make em for laptops though. Good hunting though!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the advice!!!

They make USB sound cards... creative and a few others make them.... so that's the direction i'll end up going in. I think you can find a really good one for less than $100.00.... cool because if I ever want to play high-end games on my home system I can just take the sound card out.

Does anyone have any advice on a good amp?
 
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