Dashboard Devices ENV computer for the car

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December 30, 2008 One of the highlights of CES will be the fully-featured ENV car computer from start-up Dashboard Devices. The US$2,700 in-dash double-DIN ENV runs a 7" touchscreen monitor, Windows XP with an automotive interface, has a 160GB drive and offers full computer functionality. It’ll respond to voice prompts, read your email aloud, turn your car into a wifi hotspot, offer GPS navigation, has a DVD drive, iPod control, internet radio, satellite radio and possibly HD Radio too and GSM cellular connectivity. The system is true dual zone so rear seat passengers can control their own different A/V experience and there’s even plans for a his-and-hers sunvisor displays. Accessories include a rear view camera, a sonar parking system, and the ability to view real time health information for various vehicle sub-systems using the OBDII "Engine Diagnostic System." Like we said, fully featured!

The 7" touchscreen monitor enables the ability to enter commands and navigate menus with just a touch of the screen and the DVD/CD-RW slot drive is openly accessible, not hidden behind a motorized screen! The customizable tactile buttons and dual-rotary encoder enable buttons to be programmed to the functionality you want, or to enable quick navigation through the system without having to look at the screen while driving!

A front mounted USB port allows for additional items including a portable media player, USB Key or iPod, to be connected to the ENV-100, and as the ENV is a full computer, all USB devices can be used and controlled through the interface.

The ENV-100 is slated for spring production and will be sold initially through computer resellers and then to CE car audio retailers.

The ENV-XC houses the CPU and it is housed separate to the in-dash unit so that it can be more easily installed in more vehicles. Though it’s tiny, at approximately 1.77"x4.25"x6.61" (45x108x168mm), it is the fully functional computer that powers the system. There’s an Intel Core Duo processor, 160GB hard drive and 1GB RAM, WiFi, Dual Soundcards, Dual FM/RDS/TMC Radio Tuners and an integrated GPS receiver (including antenna).

The ENV-XC connects to the ENV In-Dash Unit and Dual Zone Kit with just one wire each. This allows the system to be installed without having to heavily modify the interior of your vehicle.

The ENV-XC is designed to work in all automotive environments and even has a hard drive heater for cold-weather conditions. The system automatically powers on when you start your ignition and the programmable shutdown timer allows you to choose how long your system will stay powered when you turn your ignition off.

If you’re prepared to hell out the additional cost of the optional Dashboard Devices Backup Camera, you also get eversing camera functionality, though they have thought it through and the the image is horizontally flipped so that the output is a mirror image, an orientation of the display consistent with the physical mirrors installed on the vehicle. Once installed, it turns on when you place your vehicle in reverse!

If you want the hamburger with the lot, there’s also an optional Rear Parking System that detects obstacle using Ultrasonic Wave (Sonar) Echolocation Technology. There are 4 wide angle sensors each with a separate indicator so you know exactly which sensor has detected an obstacle. The range of each sensor is 1-5.9 feet (0.3 - 1.8m)! When you are backing into a tight space and the sensor(s) detect an obstacle you will hear an audible alert (volume controlled) and your In-Dash Unit will display a Warning or Collision Zone alert. If you continue to back into the obstacle the alert will begin to beep faster and will beep continuously if you are within 1 ft (0.3m) of the obstacle! Alternatively, if the path is clear your screen will display a Safe indicator! As with the Backup Camera, this system turns on automatically when you put your vehicle in reverse!

On top of that, the device also offers an OBDII "Engine Diagnostic System" with the purchase of the special cable. OBDII systems give you (or a repair technician) access to the health information for various sub-systems of your vehicle. Adding the OBDII cable to your system allows you to view real-time data in addition to a standardized series of diagnostic trouble codes, or DTCs (http://www.obd-codes.com/) right on the screen of your carputer. This allows you (or your mechanic) to rapidly identify and possibly remedy malfunctions within the vehicle.

It looks like they’ve thought of it all. Can’t wait to see the real thing.

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