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#287585 - 03/05/2007 20:39 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Fair enough. I have no experience with StreetDeck, but all I can see on that screen is what looks like a recent version of WiMP (which, conceivably, has the worst UI of any media player ever) over the top of a Windows desktop. I could be wrong in my guesses, though.

I take it that is not the intended final result?
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#287586 - 03/05/2007 20:54 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: wfaulk]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Actually, thats the installer for World of Warcraft. I'm curious to see how much 3d power the onboard video card has.

StreetDeck is a full screen app that launches at startup and provides full access to all the functions. Here's a demo video of one of their older versions.

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#287587 - 03/05/2007 22:10 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
That's pretty neat.
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#287588 - 04/05/2007 20:20 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2518
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
You said:
Quote:
With it, and StreetDeck included, it comes to about the same price as importing one from Europe.


Are these things available in Europe? From where? Is streetdeck also included then, with European maps?

I have to admit, that demo is some of the coolest in-car stuff I've ever seen!
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#287589 - 05/05/2007 03:47 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: Archeon]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3412
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
Streetdeck is not currently available with European maps. You can buy the lite version and use european mappoint maps, but there are some small drawbacks. Also note that on a cross-country trip a couple months ago, there were some periodic issues with the navigation. Hopefully they've got those fixed by now or in the near future. It's definitely still under development, but I think it's only going to get a lot better and it's being consistently improved. I'm anxious to see the new music interface in the latest version. I wasn't too keen on the old one after being spoiled with the empeg.

EDIT: I just loaded the latest update and the music selection interface is much improved. It's not quite the empeg yet, but it's getting much better.
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#287590 - 05/05/2007 15:18 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
FireFox31
pooh-bah

Registered: 19/09/2002
Posts: 2491
Loc: East Coast, USA
Um, if the empeg community's main guy switches car stereos.... maybe we'll need to register G4bbs.com.
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#287591 - 07/05/2007 16:41 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: JBjorgen]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2518
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Sweet! Thanks for the info John!
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#287592 - 07/05/2007 18:04 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: Archeon]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3412
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
Also note that you can download and run the developer edition and the latest update for free. It works fine to try it out as a demo.

The only difference is that it won't show fullscreen...only in windowed mode.

Note: I AM working on the empeg digitalMod, but it's going very slowly since I'm currently working a regular full-time job and two contracting jobs at once.
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#287593 - 08/05/2007 11:40 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: Archeon]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
https://www.cartft.com/catalog/il/770

Thats the european store I was considering buying from based on the cost. (finally found the bookmark). It looks like the ship it with the software Infill loads, no idea how well it works.
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#287594 - 08/05/2007 13:03 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2518
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Thanks again for all the info guys!
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#287595 - 24/05/2007 16:11 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: wfaulk]
belezeebub
addict

Registered: 11/01/2001
Posts: 579
Been using streetdeck for almost a year now I love it, sure its not as smooth as empeg but its very nice lots of bells and dodads and it works it crashed about as often as my empeg did and I have yet to have a crash that a restart didn't fix standard windows issue.

I use the branded streetdeck trunk mount bundel with wi-fi and I love the 3d maps when they overlay onto the nav screen.
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#287596 - 29/05/2007 16:45 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Some teaser pics:




No good shots of the system in the dash yet. Still needs some tweaking by the shop, but it's nearly done.

*edit* Added the dash shot, looks like someone at the mustang meet grabbed a decent one.


Edited by drakino (29/05/2007 23:57)
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#287597 - 30/05/2007 19:04 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
Archeon
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2518
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
Wow! Sweet!
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#287598 - 30/05/2007 20:50 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: Archeon]
sein
old hand

Registered: 07/01/2005
Posts: 886
Loc: Sector ZZ9pZa
That is totally awesome looking! Been following this thread pretty closely, and I'm so jealous!
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#287599 - 16/08/2007 15:06 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
pim
addict

Registered: 14/11/2000
Posts: 474
Loc: The Hague, the Netherlands
So I followed the example of our BBS admin and bought an Infill G4 (from CarTFT.com) and StreetDeck (from mp3car.com).

I admitted this in an off topic thread, to which Drakino responded:

Quote:
I'll avoid throwing this thread off topic here, but so far my Infill G4/Streetdeck experiences have been very mixed.


I'd be interested in your experiences.

I must say I don't really like StreetDeck, but everything else is worse. What I really would like is running an open source app on an open source OS. But the
truth is, the G4 runs Linux miserably, the "frontend" apps available appear to be either dead or in their infancy, and navigation on Linux sucks.

Next choice would be an open source app on a closed source OS: RoadRunner. But that just kept hanging on me, and all the skins look so ugly. Not to mention that very few skins are available for the 800x480 screen being used.

You, living in the US, should be reasonably well off with StreetDeck. It supports a lot of goodies available in the US only, like XM, Sirius and HD Radio tuners.

What really bothers me with StreetDeck is the (lack of) internationalization. StreetDeck designers did figure not everyone uses miles (probably saw that in MS MapPoint, their nav engine) but everything else needs to be discovered.

Minor problems are fixed US formats for date and time. Bigger problem is that support for the builtin analog (non-RDS) FM tuner won't let us tune to even frequencies. Well, there's a commandline switch that enables even frequencies, but that disables odd frequencies. Oh well, they figured out now that we use both, so eventually this will work.

But what really is unforgivable is the lack of Unicode support. This makes it a legacy app released in the 21st century. It will not play tunes with Unicode (utf-16 or utf-8) tags. It will crash on tunes with Unicode file names.

To make things worse, it underachieves even as a non-unicode app. It will only display US-ASCII on the screen. So not even iso8859-1, the common codepage for ID3 tags, a subset of windows-1252, the common US/Western European Windows code page.

Customers who naively report these issues get hostile responses

Somehow, I feel much more comfortable on this board. Too bad we can't discuss things here in-depth.

Pim

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#287600 - 16/08/2007 15:33 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Wow. What a jackass.

And the fact that their explanation is that they use hand-built image files for fonts. Wow. Just wow.
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#287601 - 16/08/2007 17:25 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
I must say I don't really like StreetDeck, but everything else is worse. What I really would like is running an open source app on an open source OS. But the
truth is, the G4 runs Linux miserably, the "frontend" apps available appear to be either dead or in their infancy, and navigation on Linux sucks.


Yep, I found the same. I had initially considered a Mac Mini, with the goal of staying on OS X. Seeing what was out there killed that idea quick. The Infill G4 looked attractive since it took care of the need to kludge the hardware together, but as the empeg has taught us, software is pretty important too.

The front end software I am eyeing as an alternative is CentraFuse. While less flashy then StreetDeck, relying on buttons instead of gestures, it seems to be going in the right direction. I'm not sure how it's navigation does though, but I may be switching to it soon. The developer seems to be also much less hostile then the SD/MP3Car staff. The main issue there though is the added expense, and also lack of Infill integration. I'd lose the AM/FM radio, screen tilt controls and brightness controls.

Quote:
You, living in the US, should be reasonably well off with StreetDeck. It supports a lot of goodies available in the US only, like XM, Sirius and HD Radio tuners.


I don't use any of the XM/Sirius/HD stuff, the empeg weaned me off radio long ago.

Quote:
What really bothers me with StreetDeck is the (lack of) internationalization. StreetDeck designers did figure not everyone uses miles (probably saw that in MS MapPoint, their nav engine) but everything else needs to be discovered.


This actually bothers me too. I use 24 hour time on everything I can, and I still don't know an easy way to get the Streetdeck clock to use it. And the nav engine sucks. horribly. I figured it was getting confused on the local highways with the frontage roads as it would keep asking me to get off, then back on, then off, etc... But on my recent vacation to Colorado, I deduced the nav engine is just plain stupid. I tried a route from Raton, NM to Colorado Springs, and it wanted me to go out on a ton of country roads, when I-25 was right there. I decided to let it keep it's planned trip then started driving. Every attempt it got to recalculate, it wanted me to get off and find the country roads. This was when it was set to "fastest time". "Shortest distance" produces some amusing results, and "most highways" ends up sticking onto highways way too long. I'm to the point where the navigation on the thing is worthless to me now, beyond giving me a local map to see where I am, and a general arrow pointing at my destination.

Quote:
But what really is unforgivable is the lack of Unicode support. This makes it a legacy app released in the 21st century. It will not play tunes with Unicode (utf-16 or utf-8) tags. It will crash on tunes with Unicode file names.


Nice. I've avoided this so far it seems, though I only have 4 gigs of music on the thing. I still can't get it to show album art, and refuse to go some proprietary way to get it in there. They have a program that is supposed to extract the art out of files for people who want to use art in the ID3 tags, but it doesn't work on my files. Guess I need to submit a full on bug report to get properly ignored, instead of my 0 replies post in the general area.

Quote:
Customers who naively report these issues get hostile responses


Are you part of the "private testers" group? It's sadly no better there. My posts were part of a reason a mod made a post about "What being a private tester means", and it basically came down to "You should test our stuff and provide good full bug reports about the software only. Hardware or install issues are not our problem". Well, except that the Infill is sold with Streetdeck and I really didn't have a choice in the matter. I brought up a serious safety issue regarding the brightness of the display and the inability to manually toggle into night mode, and the issue was closed "working as designed". Basically my car offers no constant 12+ illumination wire, it's all pulsed for dimming. The Infill doesn't like this at all, so my unit is stuck in day mode on the nav screen all the time. Streetdeck has a manual toggle via a U gesture, but it's disabled intentionally on the Infill units. Coming home from my trip, I just left Streetdeck closed, set power saving to turn off the LCD, and listened to music and podcasts off my iPhone hooked to the line in. All while letting my friends TomTom do the navigation work.

Quote:
Somehow, I feel much more comfortable on this board. Too bad we can't discuss things here in-depth.


Agreed. The community on MP3Car.com is horrible to any outsiders. And being that I somewhat believed that Streetdeck and the Infill G4 would be a non hacky solution has only resulted in more problems. I'm expecting the thing to do basic things properly, and it won't. Even better, MP3Car recommended solutions don't seem to get very well tested. For example, they sell a Turtle Beach Roadie USB sound card with the unit if you want to use an external amp. And a USB 2.0 hub. While I didn't use their hub, I did put the Roadie on a 2.0 hub that is mounted in the trunk. And apparently this is a nono, as it causes high CPU usage. As in 45-50% cpu usage playing back an MP3 in Windows high. Still deciding how to address that one, but it has only helped expose how slow Streetdeck can be. So many people probably run it on dual core systems in their cars, that it just hasn't had a proper optimization pass for a power efficient Via 1.5 ghz processor. Even without the Roadie CPU issue, the unit feels like it is much slower at navigation tasks then even my 5 year old Garmin.

At this point with so much sunk into my system, I'm not sure what I want to do. I really want navigation in the dash, along with good media playback. The empeg has set my expectations very high on the media side, and so far the Infill has let me down quite a bit.
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#287602 - 16/08/2007 17:29 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Oh, I forgot another issue. So the navigation is built around Streets and Trips 2006 from Microsoft. 2008 is almost out (August 20th), and 2007 has been out for a while, but the developers currently have no announced plans for how upgrades will work. Trying to upgrade yourself results in the navigation being broken. So while most proper navigation units have yearly updates of some sort available, Streetdeck offers 2 year old information.
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#287603 - 16/08/2007 18:00 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: wfaulk]
andy
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5689
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
Quote:
Wow. What a jackass.


Can't disagree with that.

Quote:

And the fact that their explanation is that they use hand-built image files for fonts. Wow. Just wow.

Is that really any different to how the fonts work on the empeg ?

As someone who has struggled blending displaying Truetype fonts correctly placed with precisely size graphics I can understand the temptation to use fixed sized bitmap fonts for something like this.

I never did manage to get the layout perfect with this UI using Truetype for example and it was a nightmare getting it this far:



These guys obviously don't have a clue about Unicode though, it is so easy to get it right nowadays and I'm sure if they had included support the community would have filled in the gap with the bitmap fonts needed.
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#287604 - 16/08/2007 18:46 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: andy]
pim
addict

Registered: 14/11/2000
Posts: 474
Loc: The Hague, the Netherlands
Quote:

Is that really any different to how the fonts work on the empeg ?



No, so that's not even an excuse.

Quote:

I never did manage to get the layout perfect with this UI using Truetype for example and it was a nightmare getting it this far



That looks impressive. But StreetDeck only needs standard characters using standard spacing, I guess. They use the PNG fonts o do 3D effects mostly.

But they have announced they're working on a Unicode engine, so there must be some compromise possible.

Quote:

These guys obviously don't have a clue about Unicode though, it is so easy to get it right nowadays and I'm sure if they had included support the community would have filled in the gap with the bitmap fonts needed.


The reason StreetDeck can't handle Unicode has to do with Windows Media Player. They use .wpl files for playlists. .wpl files are wierd; they are encoded using windows-1252 as long as no item contains Unicode. But once you add a single item with a Unicode filename, the .wpl file will be utf-8 encoded. But there's no Unicode BOM or charset= header that tells what encoding is used. It's up to the application to guess its encoding.

I found that creating utf-8 encoded .wpl file by hand will circumvent the problem of StreetDeck crashing. It will even play tunes with Unicode names as long as there are no Unicode tags used.

Pim

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#287605 - 16/08/2007 18:53 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: andy]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Quote:
Is that really any different to how the fonts work on the empeg ?

Yes. On the empeg, we're talking about very small fonts, which, even in Windows, are usually bitmap fonts. Computers have a hard time rendering legible text from vector fonts at very small point sizes.

On the other hand, they're rendering fairly large point sizes. Maybe TrueType does fail for them in some way, but how many font formats are there? Beyond TrueType, PCF, Type1, and MetaFont come immediately to mind. Surely one of them would be better than bitmaps.
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#287606 - 16/08/2007 18:53 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
pim
addict

Registered: 14/11/2000
Posts: 474
Loc: The Hague, the Netherlands
Quote:
Oh, I forgot another issue. So the navigation is built around Streets and Trips 2006 from Microsoft.


We should blame Microsoft for that. Microsoft make Mappoint North America vs Streets and Trips and Mappoint Europe vs Autoroute Express.

Mappoint is programmable, while Streets and Trips/AutoRoute Express are standalone apps targeted for the consumer market. Mappoint gets released every two years, Streets and Trips/AutoRoute Express every year.

There's no question that StreetDeck must use Mappoint.

It's just too bad you cant just install the latest consumer maps into your "professional" product.

Pim

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#287607 - 16/08/2007 19:18 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
pim
addict

Registered: 14/11/2000
Posts: 474
Loc: The Hague, the Netherlands
Quote:
The front end software I am eyeing as an alternative is CentraFuse [ ... ] I'd lose the AM/FM radio, screen tilt controls and brightness controls.


About every frontend supports the excellent HQCT tuner. Not StreetDeck, I assume because it competes with their own yet to be released HD Radio tuner, or because it's "not invented here", but in Be
lgium.

The tilt controls on the unit itself should remain working. Oh, and my software tilt control does not work either, not in StreetDeck, not in Infill Station.

Quote:
I don't use any of the XM/Sirius/HD stuff, the empeg weaned me off radio long ago.


Ha, that was one of the excused for StreetDeck staff being slow with supporting FM tuners: "FM radio stations are crap".

Quote:
And the nav engine sucks. horribly.


Hmm, I have AutoRoute Express, and it's not so bad at all. I would hope that Mappoint Europe is just as good.

Quote:
I still can't get it to show album art, and refuse to go some proprietary way to get it in there.


I already had folder.jpg files in every directory. This is needed for lots of apps. Works great on StreetDeck, if only they would honour the aspect on a wide screen like the G4 screen.

Quote:
Basically my car offers no constant 12+ illumination wire, it's all pulsed for dimming.


I believe there are adapters that convert CanBus digital signals to plain signals required for many aftermarket headunits.

Quote:
I really want navigation in the dash, along with good media playback.

Most frontends do navigation by starting an external application. I haven't seen any that can display the "now playing" info inside the navigation window.

Pim

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#287608 - 16/08/2007 19:41 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3412
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
Quote:
About every frontend supports the excellent HQCT tuner. Not StreetDeck

I'm surprised noone's written a DigitalMod for it. Doesn't seem like it'd be too difficult.

EDIT: Oh wait, someone HAS written one. And I see you've already tried it out.


Edited by JBjorgen (16/08/2007 19:45)

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#287609 - 16/08/2007 19:57 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: JBjorgen]
pim
addict

Registered: 14/11/2000
Posts: 474
Loc: The Hague, the Netherlands
That's why I'd want StreetDeck to support it officially. A DigitalMod may work one version and cease to work in another. If the author is not interested, you're stuck.

And getting RDS support done right may be beyond what's possible in a DigitalMod.

Pim

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#287610 - 16/08/2007 20:00 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
pim
addict

Registered: 14/11/2000
Posts: 474
Loc: The Hague, the Netherlands
Quote:

Most frontends do navigation by starting an external application. I haven't seen any that can display the "now playing" info inside the navigation window.



OK, Centrafuse does that too. I wonder what nav engine they use.

And just today they announced to be working on G4 tuner and tilting support.

Looks good indeed.

Pim

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#287611 - 16/08/2007 20:13 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7867
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
OK, Centrafuse does that too. I wonder what nav engine they use.

And just today they announced to be working on G4 tuner and tilting support.


Nice. Hopefully true competition will be the spur the Streetdeck guys need to improve things.
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#287612 - 16/08/2007 20:15 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
pim
addict

Registered: 14/11/2000
Posts: 474
Loc: The Hague, the Netherlands
Some nice thing also need to be said about the G4.

Build quality is really good. CarTFT sells it unbundled, no harddisk, memory or software, so I had to open it. Looks good on the inside as well. But SATA and CD-ROM cable are really short, so it's not easy. But I'm sure the SATA cable in the G4 is much tighter connected than the IDE cable in the Empeg.

Other good thing is screen quality and ease of setup. Most car computers have crappy VGA outputs that need to be connected using very long cables to displays with odd resolutions. This results in bad screen quality very often, and lots of hassles to support the native 800x480 resolution of most screens.

The G4 screen, however, is connected digitally inside, and every display driver I've tried (Windows native, Windows standard VGA, Linux vesa) adapts to the physical resolution automatically. Display quality is really good. Too bad the display needs to be tilted to get a good viewing angle.

Pim

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#287613 - 17/08/2007 12:16 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: drakino]
Robotic
pooh-bah

Registered: 06/04/2005
Posts: 2026
Loc: Seattle transplant
Quote:
... All while letting my friends TomTom do the navigation work...
I lol'd.
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#287614 - 22/08/2007 11:25 Re: Car PC hardware is getting there [Re: pim]
peter
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/07/2000
Posts: 4141
Loc: Cambridge, England
Quote:
The reason StreetDeck can't handle Unicode has to do with Windows Media Player. They use .wpl files for playlists. .wpl files are wierd; they are encoded using windows-1252 as long as no item contains Unicode. But once you add a single item with a Unicode filename, the .wpl file will be utf-8 encoded. But there's no Unicode BOM or charset= header that tells what encoding is used. It's up to the application to guess its encoding.

I was a bit alarmed by that, so I tried it. I can't persuade WMP11 (11.0.5721.5145) to create non-UTF-8 WPL files whatever I do. If I give it ASCII names the resulting WPL is indistinguishable from ASCII, but of course ASCII is a subset of UTF-8, so that's OK. If I give it a filename with U+00F1 in, the resulting WPL is UTF-8 (not CP1252) even though U+00F1 is in CP1252. If I give it a filename with U+FF1F in, the resulting WPL is still UTF-8.

Basically I think WPL was Microsoft's attempt to fix codepage and escaping issues in their XML-like playlists after messing it up in ASX (try using filenames with "&" in).

Peter

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