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Dan

Who's interested in tablet installs?

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Hi all, currently in the middle of a tablet install in my e46.

I had the business nav in my 2000 320d touring, the small screen one with tape deck. It didn't work, sounded rubbish and was impossible to use with the screen not working, so I installed a Sony unit I had laying about but I hate the way it looks, so most double dins won't fit without cutting the heater box, the ones that do are over priced and or the tech out dated, plus they don't look great, so what do you do?

Tablet install, I'm putting a google nexus 7 in my car, if there is enough interest I am happy to do a how to guide since there isn't much info out there apart from a few vague videos etc.

Let me know if your interested in this.

Cheers, Danny

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There will be a little bit of interest.. It's been asked about a few times on here. I think only 2-3 other people have actually done the conversion though from what i've seen.

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I can't really understand why there's not been a huge take up with this, it's actually really easy to do if you understand basic electrics and can get the tablet to sleep/wake with charge signal. Do you think a write up will be of benefit to other people or should I not waste my time?

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Although I now run a Parrot Asteroid Smart I'd still be interested in seeing what's involved.

As above there will be people interested but how many will come forward I guess is another thing.

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No problem, I will take a few pics and do a bit of a how to, it may vary for people who have the business cd unit without nav just on headunit location, but overall it's actually quite a simple install, I spent longer trying to figure out making the tablet work properly for in dash use, in the end I found two apps that make it perfect, automate (basically a rip off of android auto) and auto sleep. This allows you to have the tablet wake on charge, sleep off charge, they both work perfectly

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I will start a new thread in the how to section, pictures I have aren't that great due to doing everything in the dark so I apologise for that, but hopefully I will be able to shed a bit of light on my experiences using the nexus 7 tablet and on my installation, it is finished now so I will take some better pics in daylight tomorrow too and add them in.

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Hi

There's a number of reasons why tablet installs haven't really taken off

1. The Tablet itself isn't the correct 'grade'. The internal electronics aren't automotive grade components. This means they don't have the same anti vibration, anti dust, temperature variance resistance as a dedicated car audio head unit has. This means that it's likely the tablet will fail or won't work as well quicker. 

2. The sound quality from the internal IC's and circuitry is basic quality. The headphone socket like any similar socket can be distorted and noisy in general and the Bluetooth Chip again will be base level quality. 

3. You have to use an intelligent soft start up/down power supply to power the unit correctly and properly. Else the battery life of the tablet in conjunction with the temperature variances will shorten battery life substantially.

4. Usually a custom bezel is needed to hold and fit the tablet securely. If done by a car audio specialist fabricator, it adds to the cost. DIY making of this will of course reduce costs. 

5. Most likely need to use a BT GPS receiver as once a tablet is embedded in a fascia, it'll either not detect or only detect a few satellites if lucky. 

So essentially, it's extra work to fit and make work well and properly and that translates into higher costs once all completed and done compared to a proper car audio head unit which easily solves all those issues. Those who love to tinker and DIY and try things, change firmware, try new software etc will of course evaluate a tablet or Car PC install. The reality is very few actual installs are done.

Cheers, Dennis!

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I've just completed a basic outline of how I did it.

I can see why people choose a normal head unit over a tablet install, but for me (who is happy to tinker) it was a good option purely on the grounds that I had a lot of the components required to build. I appreciate where your coming from with regards to battery lifespan and the temperature issues I might face, however dust and vibrations can't surely be any worse than me chucking it on the table when I'm done or walking around the house with it.

Gps really is not an issue, I've had it temporarily mounted in the car for three weeks and not once has it lost signal when using google maps, in fact it's better than the near £2000 mini connected system in our jcw mini, more intuitive and responsive.

With regards to noise, I did have some issues with positioning wiring, I found when the charger wire was left near the back of the tablet I got noise, however I don't get any noticeable noise now. Sound quality is ten times better than the original head unit, and as for using intelligent software it's literally two apps that make it possible to use in a dash, I also have access to the USB port to allow me to upload music to my tablet and carry out any updates or do a proper charge if I need to, there are so many benefits to this type of install too, tether your phone for wifi and you have a whole host of streaming services in your car, google maps? How did I even use a normal sat nav before having Google maps in my car? Get home and download off the home wifi too anything you want for your journey to work the next morning, I can use the torque app in conjunction with an obd Bluetooth connection and have live engine data on my dash, boost, oil pressure, oil temp, vital things I should be able to see. The possibilities are endless and if I have to only pay for a new battery once in a while or even if the tablet breaks they are so cheap in comparison to any shallow mount double din unit that can't do half the stuff the tablet can :)

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Hi Dan,

Anti Vibration and Dust as well as heat variances do take a toll on components not fit for this grade. It's not instantly noticeable as such, it happens over time. 

All the benefits you mention can be done on the Parrot Asteroid Smart for instance, so there's nothing show stoppingly great that's only available on a tablet. Android Auto will soon be much more widely available as well, and JBL have announced their CP100 unit which is up for $399.99 USD when it comes out soon. It also has Carplay on board as well, so most likely all the apps you could want will be on an 'automotive' grade piece of hardware. I suspect once it's out in the UK, it'll be around £300-330 or so.

Overall, as previously mentioned, there's not many, actually hardly any Car PC/Tablet Installs around due to the extra costs and installation requirements and proper supporting products needed to make for a safe, reliable and fit for purpose install. The ones I've seen use high quality tablets, like the iPad which is capable of providing a Digital Audio output and then they connect to high quality processors and then amplifiers and speakers. The sound quality capable out of these can be awesome. On a 'normal' tablet, it's not possible and the sound quality is significantly lower. Of course, 'sound quality' is subjective and if you are happy with the sound from your tablet, then that's fine. If and when you hear a entry level car audio setup that's been properly installed, it'll sound much much better and your jaw will probably hit the floor in astonishment !

Of course, those who love to tinker around, there are installs and products available for a Car PC or Tablet type setup. The overwhelmingly big part of the market don't want to tinker and have to change software and buy add on bits etc, so they choose dedicated car audio products. 

Cheers, Dennis!

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I like the tablet installs. To be honest unless you're entering competitions with regards to sound quality or are an audiophile the audio out from a tablet is fine. They've got pretty good audio processors built in now, but even if not you can just hook up a USB DAC to it to get better sound quality through that instead.

As for components not being built for automotive uses (vibration and dust etc) - that's a bit extreme. Tablets and phones are portable devices. They're designed to work in very harsh conditions as they're carried around, put into bags, pockets, left around the house. They're used in houses with pets, dusty houses. In short, sitting with a bit of vibration in a car is childs play.

My only hesitation with a tablet install is lack of built in FM tuner and no built in amp. Video in and out I can take it or leave it however the reversing camera is a good addition that would be a pain to wire in to a tablet.

It's all very well and good suggesting an iPad because it has a better DAC, most Android devices support USB-OTG out of the box. If you want a better DAC, you plug one in. If you want external storage, you plug some in, you want additional cameras, you plug them in. They're extremely expandable and the software is highly modifiable to get the setup which is right for you. I'm a big fan. It's something I considered before getting an Android headunit (a device which Dennis despises) however the lack of AM/FM tuner, built in amp and OEM looks is what pushed me towards the Huefei products.

My original thought process involved a Raspberry Pi hooked up with the official touchscreen running Kodi or similar - and it's a project I may pursue further down the line in my other car.

Edited by dontpannic

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It's all subjective I suppose, a lot of it is down to taste, some people hate anything non standard for example.

I wouldn't say the sound quality is poor at all, it is definitely 100% better than standard though, it's not a professional installation I've used an old headunit as an amp but it's simple, works well for what it cost me me to do it's well worth the time it took.

Like you say it's so expandable, not only that there are no restrictions in place in the software so for example I was waiting in the carpark today, had YouTube on for half an hour... I can see why you would be a bit put off with no fm radio but I tend to stream most of my music nowadays anyway 4g is so fast it never breaks up or buffers.

I haven't looked into a reversing camera, I would imagine it could do it with a root on the tablet but that's something I haven't gone into yet, it would be good though.

My next step I think will be getting the torque app up and running with a Bluetooth obd2 module, you can get widgets on your home screen showing custom gauges of your choice which I find very cool!

So far so good with regards to the install, all seems to be working as I hoped here's a pic I took today of the screen working faa95ae4ecff7d9e89d273c77b31c4ac.jpg

Cheers, Dan

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Hi dan 

How did you manage to fit the heating unit flush I've fitted an android headunit but I can't seem to get the heating unit to sit flush it's loose on mine ??

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Hi dan 

How did you manage to fit the heating unit flush I've fitted an android headunit but I can't seem to get the heating unit to sit flush it's loose on mine ??

Hi anteesh, sorry for the extremely late reply just checked back at this topic now, mine kinda just sit in there tight not perfect and can be moved a bit of you try but it's not fallen out yet, need to get the proper console for it but for the moment it's fine.

How are you finding the tablet? Hope this guide was of help for you.

Whilst I'm here I will give an update since I've been running it for a couple of months now, all had been good however I did decide to root the tablet for battery life issues I started having. I am now using tasker to control the on off functions, it also turns on and off Bluetooth and wifi, and puts the tablet into deep sleep. So far the tablet has been awake 4 weeks and never dropped below 93%!

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Just thought I'd jump onto this thread and say that I fitted a tablet into my 330 last summer. 

Been running it for a while now with only the occasional problem. Most issues are down to bugs in the custom scripts that I have written, rather then the hardware & mounting.

If you're getting slight movement... try using bluetac in strategic places behind the and around the edge of the tablet itself.

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The hardest thing was sourcing a decent bezel. I wasn't prepared to pay well over £60 for one. Ended up waiting nearly a month for one to be shipped over from America but only cost £30.

An electric multi-tool (Dremel) was also a godsend too when cutting/sanding the bezel down to size at the back to allow the tablet's screen to sit flush with no gap.

I've a little bit of my write up available here:
http://bmwbox.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=20&start=40

Edited by DazRave
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1 hour ago, DazRave said:

The hardest thing was sourcing a decent bezel. I wasn't prepared to pay well over £60 for one. Ended up waiting nearly a month for one to be shipped over from America but only cost £30.

An electric multi-tool (Dremel) was also a godsend too when cutting/sanding the bezel down to size at the back to allow the tablet's screen to sit flush with no gap.

I've a little bit of my write up available here:
http://bmwbox.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=20&start=40

Good job on this...it actually looks really good in the dash.

Are you able to hook up an ipod to it? If so what software will control it?

Thanks

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27 minutes ago, dtviewer said:

Good job on this...it actually looks really good in the dash.

Are you able to hook up an ipod to it? If so what software will control it?

Thanks

Thanks :) It wasn't without it's hard work though. Took me a year to plan and create the features I wanted on the actual unit (using a spare phone to test if things work etc).

The tablet has a 64gb mirco SD card within it. so my complete music collection is currently stored locally on the tablet.

Just before the tablet goes into sleep mode (after ignition off) it checks to see if it can see any local 'friendly' wifi networks (work & home). If it finds one, it connects to the network but still switches the screen off. It stays connected to the wifi for about 30 minutes while it syncs with my dropbox and downloads (or deletes) any music it finds. The app I use to do this is called Dropsync.

So, I've no need to connect to the tablet from my phone really. My aim was that the tablet become completely self sufficient and didn't need to rely on my phone to connect to it to carry out it's tasks.

On a side note, the tablet runs Android, so although I think I would be able to work out how to stream from my Android phone to the tablet, I'd suspect streaming from iPhone to tablet would be much harder.


EDIT: I assumed you said iPhone. Sorry! It's worth noting that behind the dash I have a audio splitter and within the glovebox there is a standard 3.5mm jack so that you can hook any device up to the sound system which then bypasses the tablet altogether.

Edited by DazRave
added info

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