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Communications Connecting - internet cafes, laptops, Palm devices, cell phones - how to connect, use, which one, and Bike to Bike and passenger intercoms.
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  #1  
Old 29 Dec 2008
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Can we build the perfect laptop for the road.

For a while now I've been wondering about the perfect computer for the road. Yes we've discussed the EEE PC in detail, and indeed I've got one and it's pretty good, but it's not perfect. I'm wondering, whether it might be possible now, with available software and hardware to come up with what could be the perfect set up. I've done a quick google to try and find examples where I can.

My thoughts on what that would be are:But then I got to thinking, if it has a solid state drive, in theory it should be OK to run it WHILE riding and if it was small enough it could fit in a map bag, and if it had a touchscreen which twisted round like a tablet you could run software.

So this is what I thought it could do.
  • GPS - The New LG comes with an onboard GPS receiver, but there's plenty of external GPS that could be used if the right software could be found.
  • Video - There's a range of software available that allow any video capture device to be used to record onto a computer's hard disc. It may not be broadcast quality, but it'd do for YouTube etc. It might even be possible to have more than one cam mounted.
  • Bike to Bike Coms - Something I can't find, but I can't see why it shouldn't be possible. There are already bluetooth bike to bike coms, but if you could use wifi you'd have greater range, and the possiblity to transfer data between bikes. Only thing is I can't find any audio software which would allow this. You could then use a cheap bluetooth headset to communicate to the computer which would use wifi to connect to all your riding buddies.
  • And all the usual computery things.
But I know next to nothing about computers, for all I know this might all be out there already or easier to do. So I'm wondering if anyone fancies trying to draw up a list to make a cheap(-ish) system which would work?
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Old 30 Dec 2008
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There is another thread about this, but you are describing the ASUS EEE PC901. You only have to buy and install the touchscreen the rest is there:
9inch format
Solid State disk
WIFI
RJ45 netconnection
Bluetooth
SD card reader
3 USB connectors
VGA connector
mic. and loudspeaker connections
built in camera for Skype etc.
6h battery, option of 12h
12V power supply
Unix or XP

about 4-500USD
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  #3  
Old 30 Dec 2008
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Yeah I know that thread, but my aim was to go further than that. My idea here was to compile a list of wants and needs and then a list of software and hardware which could then satisfy them, you see?

The EEE PC isn't a bad base, but for instance the screen doesn't twist round to allow it to slip in a tank bag, so you can see the monitor as you ride. The built in webcam is fine for skype, but it's not detached so couldn't be mounted on a bike for those onboard shots.

So this was a sort of open-source idea to develop something more, but from commercially available or even better, free, products.
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Old 30 Dec 2008
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Thumbs up Asus Eee PC 1000H

I'd say that a normal PC which has installed Windows XP with all types of Maps, routeplanners, and interfaces with the TomTom Rider 2 Motorcycle GPS , ie. Autoroute, and TomTom software, has WLAN, possibility to interface with Nokia mobiles, and has good battery capacity... would be more than sufficient.

The Asus Eee PC 1000H does it all.

ASUS Eee PC 1000h Review
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  #5  
Old 30 Dec 2008
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something like a table PC. nice and flat so it can slip in the tank bag, with a digital pen to input info. i would have to say that for me the google earth programme is fantastic, although a little bit crap when dealing with the eastern hemisphere (i guess it takes a long time to accurately map the world). how about a programme that converts a google earth map into one that can be put onto a GPS format, maybe include this into the software. for this Garmin mobile seams appropriate. Also a music database, and a quick photo editing database, (apple itunes and iphoto, or epson photo edit). Wireless internet access and bluetooth/infrared compatibility are musts, as well as a couple of USB ports and ethernet port. a long lasting lithium based battery, maybe with a solar charger hooked up to the front of the bike. digital compass might also be a cool ad on. oh and pong.

personally, im turning old skool, so its just me and the bike. but i guess it couldnt hurt to have a technological advantage to your adventure, impress the locals and that!
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Old 30 Dec 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexlebrit View Post
  • GPS - The New LG comes with an onboard GPS receiver, but there's plenty of external GPS that could be used if the right software could be found.
Yes, there are plenty of external (USB or Bluetooth) GPS receivers for laptops. They only cost between US$35 to US$60. The choice of GPS software depends in many cases on your geographical location, as programs come with map data only for a specific continent or for specific countries. But there are several good ones, and as Tommy mentioned, Garmin Mobile PC will likely be a very good choice for most people. If I'm allowed to I will post a link to a list of laptop software for GPS navigation. It contains links to various reviews.
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Old 30 Dec 2008
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I think my o2 XDA orbit (aka HTC Artemis) is pretty close. Runs windows mobile and has inbuilt GPS etc. I use it with a folding bluetooth keyboard and the whole lot will fit easily inside a lunchbox with leads etc. It has a built in 2mp camera although its a shame that this is not a bit better (esp for shooting video). I've used it in tank bag for navigation/phone/mp3's - having one device means you don't have lots of leads everywhere.

As far as downsides go, I do find the software a bit fiddly sometimes because I've lot of different applications. Eg I use one application for GPS track logging, but a different one for turn-by-turn navigation. If I want to upload these tracks to my website I need a different application again, etc. The only other thing is screen size is obviously less than a laptop but its the tradeoff for portability.

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Old 31 Dec 2008
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Fujitsu Siemens make a nice little Tablet PC with the option for a SSD. It's small, light and ticks most of the boxes. The price is the only downer for me. The link is below.

LIFEBOOK P1610 - Tablet PCs - Product catalog - Fujitsu Siemens Computers

The only slight problem I can see is with the connectors. If you get a USB or PC card GPS or other device you will have small and not so robust connectors poking out the side of the Notebook / Tablet. I'm sure there are products or a bit of creative plug design out there that could get around this.

What do you think ?

Have a happy new year everybody.

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Old 31 Dec 2008
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here it is: http://www.toughbook.eu/media/Spec_S..._ATEX_engl.pdf

expensive, but very good
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Old 31 Dec 2008
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That's a bit more like it, although last night I was struck with the idea that if you combine everything in one device, and that one device goes kaput you're then up a creek without a paddle. That said I've always reckoned that technology is just there to add stuff to a trip not to make the trip dependant on it.

One of the other perks to this, aside from the USB plug issue, is that it would mean you could everything set up running off a single power source from your bike. Everything else would be taking power from the computer's USB sockets.

Saves a lot of wires and wiring.

I'd wondered about WinMobile, but it is that multiple programme issue. Mind you, they are more portable, and the battery life is a bit better for off the bike use.
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Old 1 Jan 2009
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you could just use a USB hub away from the main device to run all the smaller bits. say have one cable from the device vanishing under the seat & a hub there with everything else plugged in - much less conectors to knock & break. there will be a trade off in speed but how often do you actually use USB at full speed? the only time i reckon i do is copying files between discs.

EDIT: make it a powered hub & i think you'll be able to charge things even with the main device switched off.
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Old 1 Jan 2009
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Just search for Ruggedized Notebook with your favourite engine... I puke at the word "Google"... its like "Folders"...

Something like GETAC V100 ruggedized notebook-tablet will pop up. All are pricey though.


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Old 1 Jan 2009
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Heavy, bulky, way too expensive, and it'd never fit in a tank bag's map case. And anyway I'm not really thinking "what computer shall I buy?" but "is it possible to have a small, light, inexpensive computer tat'll do all those things, and what kind of peripherals would work, and anyone know any software.

The actual computer is in many ways the least important thing, it's what's on it, and what plugs into it.
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Old 1 Jan 2009
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I like the USB hub idea. Run just a single USB cable up to a tank bag and computer. The GPS, bluetooth intercom, video capture and any other peripherals could live under the seat, plugged into the hub. Plug a external antenna into the GPS receiver so that being under the seat would not effect it. All powered from the bike.

The video capture device is about the only device that would push USB hub speeds but this could be allowed for with buffering in software and the like or capture hardware choice.

Everything controlled via the tablet PC siting in the waterproof map pocket.

I think it is very do-able Alexlebrit. Just need to sort out some rugged plugs I think.
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Old 1 Jan 2009
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Wink Sci-Fi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexlebrit View Post
The actual computer is in many ways the least important thing, it's what's on it, and what plugs into it.
Its very important as it would have to be the communications centre and have to have to be able to communicate with all the devices on your wish list using a wireless system and be capable of running all the software concurrently.
Bluetooth ain't up to it yet. See here - The Bluetooth standards maze «

One of the things that really saps power is stuff like wi-fi, so you need it bike powered.
The unit needs to be mounted on the handlebars or behind a screen... looking down at your tank for too long will end in tears.
How many people do you know with compatible comms systems on their bikes and do you really want to talk to them that much? I find that I would rather stop and chat, have a fag, a drink, than have someone blathering in my ear. Same goes for MP3 players.

I think the car disease is creeping/has crept into motorcycling. For me its about the driving, reading the road, finding that nice line, balance and bit of risk, taking in the sights as they come at you... Stop if you want to do something else.

Grumpy bastard or what! I'm off.

HNY,
John
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