Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
Azentek's second integrated in-car PC, designed for single DIN dash slots
- Huge potential for upgrades, wide range of features, flexibility of a regular PC
- Expensive, many features aren’t all that useful in the car
Like its bigger brother, the Azentek CPC-1100 is an impressive unit on the whole, but its premium price tag means it will be out of reach for most people. Differing only in screen and unit size from its sibling, the single-DIN CPC-1100 will again set you back no less than $4500, excluding installation.
A little brother to the Atlas CPC-1200, Azentek’s CPC-1100 boasts the same features and functionality of its sibling, but fits into a standard single DIN dash slot, making it ideal for vehicles that don’t have the space for a double DIN unit.
Claiming to be the world's first fully integrated in-car PC along with the CPC-1200, the CPC-1100 is a navigation and entertainment system designed to fit into a standard single DIN dash slot. It provides all the features of a regular car stereo, and it also offers a complete navigational experience, mobile phone integration via Bluetooth, multimedia playback and optional automotive diagnostic capabilities. However, you will pay a premium for this impressive list of features.
To cut a long story short, think of the CPC-1100 as a computer in your car's dashboard. The 7in display — which is slightly larger than the CPC-1200’s screen — slides out then folds upwards, similar to an in-car TV monitor. It needs to be installed by a professional car-audio installer, though Azentek is yet to finalise these details; the company will only allow select installers. Depending on your vehicle, installing the CPC-1100 should take roughly two hours and cost between $100 and $200. An optional accessory is a reversing camera, which automatically displays a live image from the rear of your vehicle as soon as the car is put into reverse. The CPC-1100 allows you to add multiple cameras if you wish.
The CPC-1100 replaces your standard in-car audio system; interaction with the system revolves around the LCD touch-screen display. Azentek has attempted to keep an OEM look and feel, so a number of dials and buttons match those seen on regular car audio systems. Because this is a full PC, there is also a finger mouse and two mouse buttons, alongside numbered preset/shortcut buttons. All the buttons are backlit, and the lighting colour can be changed to match the look of your vehicle's interior.
The CPC-1100 is basically a full-blown PC running Microsoft Windows Vista. The good news is that you can basically do anything you can on a regular PC through this system. The unit has an Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz processor, a 160GB Seagate hard drive and 1GB of RAM. Conveniently, the operating system can be updated in the future; at the Azentec launch a spokesperson said it will potentially run Microsoft’s yet-to-be-launched Windows 7.
Most of the features, including navigation, Bluetooth and audio, are controlled via Azentec’s software. It has a user-friendly interface with large icons that can be tapped to make a selection. During our test drive, the unit was generally quick and responsive, though we sometimes had to press rather firmly to make a selection. The Azentek map can be minimised and you can then access the regular Windows Desktop. Here you can use the finger mouse and buttons to navigate just as you would with a regular PC.
For navigation, the address-entry screen is fairly straightforward; it's comparable to most portable GPS units on the market. The touch screen is responsive and easy to use, and you can switch between different keyboard layouts. Azentec uses NAVTEQ maps with a Navigon user interface. The maps are fairly detailed and include a database of red light cameras, fixed speed cameras and school zones and a wide range of POIs (points of interest).
The unit has Wi-Fi built-in. In addition, using a USB broadband modem allows the CPC-1100 to have full Internet access on the road. (We tested with a Vodafone mobile broadband device.) The unit is able to read aloud your e-mail using text-to-speech technology, and you can also send template e-mail responses in just a few taps (for example, “I’m driving right now, I’ll call you later”). These templates can be customised.
The unit can be hooked up to your vehicle's ECU to provide automotive diagnostic capabilities. Available for a cost of approximately $150 (depending on the vehicle), the CPC-1100 can theoretically diagnose mechanical and electrical problems as they occur. Regular CD and DVD functions are handled by the built-in optical drive; content such as music and videos can be ripped to the CPC-1100’s hard drive from a USB drive, SD card or a CD/DVD. The unit has both front and rear USB inputs, allowing you to connect a hub that can be wired to you glove box, for example. You can also hook up multiple monitors to the unit; theoretically, you could have a screen in the rear of your car playing a movie for the kids, and GPS navigation in the front running simultaneously.
Rounding out the features is Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to handle calls through the unit. Once paired, you can access and call contacts through the touch screen and call recently dialled numbers; you can also copy contacts and store them on the hard drive. The unit includes a small built-in microphone that can be wired to a suitable location in the car, usually along the B-pillar.
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