While we wait for our Mac mini to arrive from Apple, I thought that I would venture into the thinking behind our particular configuration and the functionality we hope to get out of our system. So here we go…
Our system starts with the beefier 1.42GHz Mac mini model. We initially contemplated purchasing the lower-end 1.25GHz model, but decide to spend the extra bucks. The 1.25GHz model is a capable system for in car use, but “more power” is always good. A standard off the shelf configuration was not an option for us since we wanted the flexibility of using AirPort (WiFi) and Bluetooth to communicate and control the unit, so we ordered a custom configuration. We plan to use the WiFI for syncing with our home base and war driving. Bluetooth will be utilized for cellular internet access and GPS navigation. We pumped up the RAM in our box to 512MB, which is frankly, what Apple should start with. A mere 256MB of RAM is not too friendly on a Mac running multiple OS X applications.
There are quite a few options out there for using a standard car LCD as display for the Mac mini (dash mount, visor mount, DIN mounted, etc.) and then there are touch screens versions. We are investigation the various displays options, but are confident that we can find a solution that will easily and inexpensively integrate into our system. We will let you know our decision in a later report.
We are leaning towards a touch screen display which will (hopefully) negate the need for a physical keyboard. I think some sort of easy-to-use physical hardware controller, like a Griffin PowerMate or Bluetooth controller, will also be necessary. I can’t imagine controlling the system with just a touch screen while driving.
The software is another point of contention. While Mac OS X can easily handle all the media formats we can throw at it, using Apples built-in iApps may prove difficult from low resolution LCD Display. We will to continue investigating our options on this and report back soon.