I have been out of the car audio hobby for almost ten years now, and I am looking to design a new system for my vehicle. I am stuck in a debate between buying a double-din all display head unit or building something more customizable with a double-din touchscreen and PC.
These double-din all display head units have come a long way in the last ten years, there are even low quality versions sold at Walmart now. They used to be very limited to a menu driven system.
One of my goals in an all display head unit is the ability to play uncompressed audio files such as FLAC. They had just started supporting WAV files back when I was running an entry level single-din head unit. My entire library is stored in FLAC so I had to convert anything I wanted to have in my car to WAV first, then put it on a USB flash drive. Another goal in my new setup is the ability to use the head unit display for multiple cameras. I see some of these new all display head units come with a backup camera, but camera technology is constantly being improved in resolution. It would be nice to be able to upgrade the camera without replacing the head unit, and have more options to choose from with standard USB webcams. There may be driver compatibility issues connecting any USB camera to a head unit.
There are many benefits to running a car PC setup other than just the type of camera or music file compression. You can connect multiple cameras, backup, dash, cab, use surveillance software and record all camera footage to a central storage device that your music is also stored on. Really any USB device can be used in your vehicle, including a high quality DAC sound output device. You can upgrade the PC, touchscreen or storage device separately. Adjusting your DSP settings on the fly can also be done if it’s wired to the PC, I know most DSPs have phone apps but it is easier with a PC.
Are there any popular software solutions for emulating custom head unit menus when running a PC? I do not use FM or AM radio, I would just run a web browser based version of Spotify if not playing local FLAC files. I honestly just use Foobar2000 to play my FLAC files. I am sure there is a way to add a hands free mic to a PC and route your calls through your speakers. Thoughts?