27
Jan
nexusae0_sti_n7-33
Last Updated: March 8th, 2014

When I saw the handiwork of the two intrepid DIY'ers featured in this post on Nexus 7 car mount projects, I'll admit - I was impressed, if only for their quality execution.

Cars have always been an interest of mine, and the current "infotainment center" paradigm many automakers are pushing onto customers really does suck in a lot of ways. Pay $1500 for a crappy nav system that's hard to use, complicated, and woefully outdated in a couple years' time. Sounds great! But even the best systems (a title I think VW and its subsidiaries currently hold) are lacking. Nav maps are ugly, hard to read, and rarely up to date. And, of course, there's absolutely zero standardization. Most of these systems end up being used as little more than fancy auxiliary jacks outside of long road trips.

So, what do most of us do? We whip out our phones (with or without car mount) and tell Google where we want to go, and plug into the stereo with the headphone jack or link up via Bluetooth. And that convenience is supposed to be worth $1500 or more. Right.

What if there were another option, though? I mean, based on the two custom jobs in the post I linked to at the top, it really doesn't seem all that hard if you have a basic knowledge of in-dash wiring. Aside from the customized portions (which are only necessary because no one makes a kit), it's not that complex a task. Sure, you'd probably be limited to a few dozen popular vehicles at the start, but that's something. Heck, if the aftermarket stereo industry exists, this can certainly be a thing, too.

While I personally can't say I'd be interested in one (I have my reasons), I can definitely see a market for something like this. There are drawbacks: a tablet isn't really designed for use in a car, or to stand up to extreme heat / cold stress. It probably won't ever be able to interface with vehicles controls like HVAC, or really anything beyond the stereo. But with a tethered connection, voice search could be a powerful tool.

What I'm getting at here is this: if there was a company out there that made a dash mount kit for the Nexus 7 (as an example), in which you provide your own tablet, would you buy one? Or is the answer to the 'smart dash' conundrum something more in-between, like an app or other software interface? Sound off in the comments.

Would you buy an Android tablet in-dash car mount kit?

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David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Crazydog

    If there was a Double-DIN kit for my car I could buy for my Nexus 7 right now? Oh yeah, I'd do it.

    • nycplayboy78

      Awesome avatar pic :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/zmartene Zach Marteney

    I'd love to have one, but I'd want to be able to take the tablet with me. I wouldn't want a permanent fixture like the ones here. Seems like kind of a waste of a lot of hardware that can do a lot more than just stuff for my car.

    • http://www.facebook.com/duckofdeath Hans Pedersen

      That idea is what Kickstarter is really for, I think. Someone with a bit more industriousness should design a dockable car mount for something like the N7.

      One thing I wonder is however; is the GPS sensitive enough to work when mounted like that?

      • Pyrotek85

        Not only that, it would need data to download the maps. Unless you have the 3g model and buy service for it, I'm assuming you would have to tether it to your phone.

        • http://www.facebook.com/RDJCook Rob Cook

          Or you could buy the Navigon app as an example and have the maps loaded internally so data wouldn't be a problem. $25 for the app is way cheaper than a data plan.

          • Nick LaVeaux

            OR... you can have your maps saved via offline maps. You simply download them ahead of time - for free. I have the entire Los Angeles area, and it takes less than 30MB of space. When I drove to Vegas, I just added the city ahead of time. Alternatively, you can just tether your phone whenever necessary as well. As the N7 gets cheaper, I see this as a win-win when comparing cost vs performance. Ever use one of those outdated touchscreen stereo systems? They cost a fortune, are slow as hell, and don't do much. This is a much cleaner, cost effective method. Plus, it just looks cool as shit.

          • Freak4Dell

            Navigation doesn't work offline, even if the maps are cached.

        • 1m2

          wrong, I have an 8.9" Galaxy Tab in mine w/o data and GPS works.

      • Freak4Dell

        In my test runs of this type of project in my car, GPS worked just fine. The GPS in most tablets and phones these days work inside buildings, so in a car is not an issue, even when under a little bit of plastic. If it were to be an issue, you can just use an external GPS puck. I think it was ICS that Google included that feature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.hariri Nick Hariri

    I remember when the parrot asteroid was first announced a few years back. I was in love with the idea, until the reviews came out and pretty much knew it was a P.O.S! But it was a great concept and the beginning of in car android dash systems.

    I own a N7 and would love to make it my main in car system but would also like the option to be able to remove it after the car ride. I guess maybe another year for CES or something for more in car systems...specially since now we have ovens and microwaves with android...

  • http://profiles.google.com/kamontryst Tyler Walles

    im attempting to build one right now for my car, im just debating on which tablet i want to use for it

    • John

      Use the nexus 7, cheaper and powerful. Only thing you have to watch out for is the heat. Some guy on reddit was talking about taking out the stock battery and putting in an acid battery? Not sure exactly, but apparently battery is the only thing you need to watch out for

      • http://profiles.google.com/kamontryst Tyler Walles

        I want to be able to take out the tablet (think old school cassette deck) , so that means embedding a dock into my dash, and with nexus 7 docks being hard to find im thinking a dell streak, cheap, has gps, powerful enough to run maps and play music

        • Freak4Dell

          The screen is pretty bad on a Streak. I'd suggest something like a Galaxy Tab 2, or a Plus if you can find one. I got my Plus for less than $200. The dock for it was like $15 on eBay.

          • http://profiles.google.com/kamontryst Tyler Walles

            Thanks! Thats one of the reasons i havent proceeded on it yet as i havent been able to see/play with a streak yet and didnt want to blindly buy one

          • Freak4Dell

            No problem. I had considered the Streak as well after seeing the price, but reading the reviews and seeing demos of the screen side by side with other tablets had me changing my mind.

            Keep us updated with what you decide to use and how you do it. My project is on hold until the summer, so I have to live vicariously through other dash installs, haha.

  • Terry Cameron

    If I could remove it I might. I prefer to be able to take the tablet out of the car and use it. Also tablets don't like -30C weather.

  • Freak4Dell

    I answered yes, but I would only buy a pre-made kit if it allowed for the tablet to be quickly removed. If not, I'd have to just make one myself, which is what I've been planning on doing since before I bought my tablet. My first couple of ideas just haven't worked as of yet, and I'm lazy, so the progress is slow.

  • StriderWhite

    as long as it doesn't cost me an eye, I would buy it.

  • TechGuy21

    yeah why not, as long it offers more than just play music and what not

  • Bruce Gavin Ward

    i will never own a 'dash' let alone customize it with 'android'. I do not, nor do i intend to 'own' a car hence if i were to need a powered vehicle for a legitimate task, beyond my capabilities with my bicycle [and trailer], i would rent (probably) a truck. The last thing i would want to do is leave my valuable android (toys)/devices in it. Not paying to 'possess' a powered vehicle is why i can afford more toys!

    • GraveUypo

      didn't know they had android back there in the early 1800s.

    • Freak4Dell

      Having money enables most people to have one of them there fancy schmancy magical car doohickies and toys.

  • jay

    Have they figured out how to charge and get usb audio out of the Nexus 7 yet? this is what im waiting on before i put it in my car. Bluetooth audio qualtiy is rough and i refuse to use the headphone jack

    my plan is to run usb audio out to a DAC and then to a separate single Din for SQ purposes

    • RIsoldier

      How do you get it through your stereo

  • John Zander

    Dude... Ingress. #want

  • PhineasJW

    Car companies are still trying to charge $2K for a navigation system that requires a DVD in your trunk. It's a joke.

    That N7 car mount looks *awesome*.

  • Daniel Orchard

    hmm usb audio custom adapters seem quite simple with the 365k resistor to put the phone into car dock mode. Might knock it up on the weekend and have a go myself. Really a slightly smaller tablet (that completely fits into a double din enclosure) would be optimal. Perhaps the new 6.3" phones would do the job a bit better, In Australia we are finally getting cheaper second sims with plans that share data plans. I would pay an extra few dollars to have a second sim for the tablet/phablet device if it shared my current data plan to avoid having to muck around with pairing - the only thing then is to find an app to take current calls from my current phone over bluetooth while its got its own sim (making it like a blootooth hands free kit) im sure its possible but ive never seen an app. Anyone have any suggestions? I would re-purpose my old gnex for the task now to muck around with it and perhaps buy a galaxy note II or even note III to fit into double din if I enjoy the concept but want slightly more screen real estate.

    • Freak4Dell

      I don't know of any app that acts as a bluetooth headset. I've been searching for that for a while, and everything I've read indicates that it's a limitation of Android. TabletTalk is about as close as it gets. It doesn't do audio, but it will let you text and pick up and send calls from the tablet. For audio, my plan is to just have the phone connect to the bluetooth in the car, rather than the tablet. Until somebody figures out how to get around this limitation in Android, I think that's about the best we'll get.

  • http://profiles.google.com/richardpmonroe richard monroe

    Here is my install of Nexus 7 in a 2011 Kia Soul

    • Justin Winker

      Missing the link

    • Jay

      Nicely done mate!
      I used to use that same LWP too.. hope you feed the fish often! :D

      • http://profiles.google.com/richardpmonroe richard monroe

        I do!

  • Ryan O’Neill

    I'd rather have a mounted dock that does the same thing, but lets me remove the tablet when I want.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Don't know how it is in US but in UK most cars don't even have half the space in the image above for an in dash android tablet.

  • cchant00

    If someone would make a removable one for my Silverado I'd be ecstatic

  • James

    The main problem for why even a pre-made dock wouldn't make them more mainstream is:
    - All tablets are different, some have power button here some there etc..

    - It's not a simple matter of put it in, plug it and it's done.

    - You still need another audio unit to receive the tablet's audio and put it out to the speakers.
    - Either you need to keep your already installed head unit or use a line convertor (which would require further modding).
    - The UI of a tablet can be very hard to read from the drivers seat. I'm using ParanoidAndroid 2.50 on my tablet and luckily the feature to increase the size of each app UI solves this issue.

    - Furthermore there really isn't a good HUB or Launcher designed for in car use. Even CarHomeUltra which recently received an update is still ugly and limited.

    - Lastly: most people are stupid! Many are impressed by a tablet in car but think that it must be some super task to install it and would simply prefer to just continue using their trusty iPod/iPhone and keep plugging that plug into the aux to enjoy their music.

  • Scott Haggerty

    There is a company in California that does have an installation so you can use you +Nexus in your dash. If I can find the article I'll send a link.

  • https://www.facebook.com/max.chen2 Max Chen

    If someone can answer this, that would be great...but a concern of mine for having an built-in Android (possibly Nexus 7) IS in fact regarding the navigation capabilities. As far as I can tell, there are no navigation/map apps on the Android market which can provide OFFLINE turn-by-turn directions. I know G Maps lets you download a city map for offline use but to get turn-by-turn directions from point A to B, you still require a data connection; once it is loaded, the GPS kicks in. My point is, the Play store doesn't have an app that lets you download turn-by-turn directions of cities.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      There are a few. I used one of them nearly 2 years ago on a trip into Canada. I haven't seen that any of them have nearly the quality of turn-by-turn navigation, and a lot of them encourage the use of freely available maps (which tend to be low quality, too), but they are out there.

      Here are a few that have been around for a while:
      Navfree
      MapDroyd
      Locus (the one I had used 2 years ago)

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    This is something I've wanted since long before Android was even a thing. I would love to do this, but there are some things missing from making it a good solution so far.

    The hardware - None of the tablets on the market are entirely suitable for high heat (I'm in Las Vegas enough that this matters). Also, one of the most important features for something like this is external controls (buttons in the steering wheel), which usually means more extensive modding and taking over the USB port with an ADK-based kit (meaning it's got to be pretty custom). There is also a lack of good ways to push audio, making USB audio the best option, which means running it through the same USB interface as the external controls (making the control unit more expensive to build).

    The software - This one is obvious. All of the existing interface replacement apps are a long way from being awesome. Even if those apps are made better, they need to interface with the external controls to get full use out of it.

    This might be a really cool open project to get started in the name of creating a few standard interfaces. If anybody is interested, it might be worth kicking around some ideas and building a few prototypes.

  • Elias

    If the price is right ($20 seems reasonable, since it's just a piece of plastic plus a charger) and the tablet can be docked and undocked, I'd be all over it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667020551 Jose Torres

    I was JUST THINKING of this very thing for my 2gen eclipse. Yes a removable tablet would be a +

  • Sergio

    An Android car mount Kitt... I'd definitely get one... :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004996922828 Jenny Jones

    I prefer the Kindle Fire HD. The interface is great and it is very easy to use. Check out its Amazon page(http://amzn.to/11SRHbE) if you want to compare what they bring to the table.

  • jedi105

    I'm astonished at the stupidity and recklesness displayed here. People are talking seriously about having in-dash entertainment systems. IMHO, these dash mounted "Interactive" screens are poorly implemented and really nothing more than a distraction that could turn deadly. As far as I am concerned, the only legitimate in vehicle systems are stereos (satellite or otherwise) and Navigation (and possibly a Google voice search feature that would allow the display of pertinent local information when the car is in park). So, fine, if you want to add a giant (hahaha - 5 or 7 inch screen, giant...come on, really) in your dashboard for navigation or a stereo, go for it. If you start adding features like Pandora and (OMFG) Facebook intergration (I have seen it), or any other Android app for that matter, you are asking for trouble. Todays drivers are already too distracted. Enough is enough. VISUAL entertainment or interaction has NO PLACE in the front seat of ANY vehicle (even for the passenger). It is just too dangerous. If you want a DVD, get a unit for the back seat and make your passengers sit back there. If you want to play with your tablet, sit in the back and let someone else drive. We already have texting and driving, Facebook and driving. What's next, Temple run and driving? Angry Birds and driving. And dont tell me it wont happen. The minute you make it possible, some stupid idiot is going to do it.

    • James

      Dude chill, you're going to pop a vein in your forehead.
      Your point is valid to an extent but no one is adding these things to tweet shit on the go etc.. geez talk about dramatization.
      There are a million things that can cause an accident but in the end it's down to the responsibility of the individual to know that paying attention to the road and safety rules comes first.

      • FrillArtist

        People will tweet, Text, send emails, browse etc. Just look at phones, it's not even mounted most of the time and yet we whip it out while driving.

        • James

          Once again, Sensibility over Recklessness.
          It's existed from the beginning homie.
          Cavemen used to have community meetings in dimly lit caves about the dangers of wild animals.
          Yet, there still existed a group of idiots that just wanted to touch that "it's so fluffly i'm going to die" fur of a Lion.
          -TrueStory.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      You are being shockingly reductive. Right from the start, by referring to this idea as adding an "entertainment system" instead of the more appropriately termed "interactive computer", you are framing this very differently than the way most of us would see it implemented. You're coming at this from the same logic that was used when there were debates about banning radios in cars because people would supposedly be too distracted by the music. You're not wrong that there will always be nimrods that are distracted and endangering everybody; however, just like gun proponents point out that taking guns away from criminals means they will just use a different weapon, dangerous drivers will find another way to distract themselves while driving.

      There are points where this actually increases safety. If positioned correctly (something most of these DIY jobs don't really do), then the driver will finally have a screen large enough that they can clearly read road names and on-screen prompts without squinting or leaning in (which removes eyes from the road). Further, since Google's speech recognition is pretty solid (compared to the competitors), it would be far more effective than car stereos or navigation systems and keeping eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel. As another bonus, if NFC (or bluetooth) is added to the front of the tablet (or another location in the car), other passengers could find destinations on their phones and beam the destination to the car instead of annoying the driver by fiddling with the tablet right next to them. One might add the trivial point that this would also remove things like changing CDs for music or other stuff like that, but I think that problem was already on the way out.

      Maybe I'm reading a bit too much into your comments, but it seems like you believe tablets would just go into the dash as is and they would never be made smarter or more integrated. Clearly, the more this thing happens, the more we'd be able to do with spoken commands, buttons in the steering wheel, and even heads-up displays (images projected on the windshield). Right now, these things aren't possible out-of-the-box, but a year from now, they could be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

    No, I dont like touch screens in cars. Without a tactile frame of reference its impossible to tell what you are doing without taking your eyes off of the road.

  • Wayne Randall

    I don't exactly agree with how "No" is worded, but no I have zero interest in a custom install. Cars come with factory touch screens are fine and could sway my decision if I was in the market for a new car.

  • RIsoldier

    In my 2012 altima. I take it with me when I get out !

  • Steve Freeman

    If it could tie into your cars systems, and replace your A/C, heater, and stereo, so you didn't even need the regular dash panel, then hell yes.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      I might want to allow it to tie into temperature control, but I personally would prefer physical dials for those things. I would think most people probably lean the same way, but I'm sure some would want it on the touch screen

  • Sootie

    Do your reasons have anything to do with you having an old merc and it really not being proper for a traditional luxury car to have electronics per chance David? (FYI I totally agree with this if it is the case, each car I buy seems to be older than the last one and I dont miss any of the rubbish really)

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_BG Dave Bg

    I have no space to put it as the dash is already full and not designed to have such thing but if possible i would like one.

  • 1m2

    Still working on mine and here is a pic. I can slide it out from the top and slide it back into the dock w/an HDMI output (not in use currently, but does work!).
    GPS works, not great some times but I think it's more the tablet's specific GPS (or tablet) as I had problems before I fabricated that bezel as such.

    If I knew any thing about putting these things into mass production I would!
    This is the 32gb 8.9" Galaxy Tab. Fits perfect, not too small, not too big!

  • akoehler

    which kind of desktop did you show here? this "Kit" style from god old david H

  • joe

    When can I buy?