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November 02, 2008

FJ Computer Update

A reader of my blog asked for an update on the installation of my Xenarc MDT-X7000 display in the FJ.  My good friend Marty came over to the house and we reinstalled the display.  I wrote in a previous update that I had to send the Xenarc back to the factory for a firmware update.  I can still hardly believe that I couldn’t update the firmware using the CD/DVD or USB ports, but that’s the way it is with this display.  After about six weeks, I received a new display.  Getting it back into the dash was pretty easy since I had kept the wiring harness that I had made to work with the harness Woody made for me.

But of course, it wasn’t going to be that easy.  After getting it installed I discovered that the power adaptor that mp3car.com had sent me was the wrong size.  I’m not even going to try to get them to send me the right one at this point, so it was off to Radio Shack.  They didn’t have it either, but I’ll just replace the power supply and start over if my local electronics source doesn’t stock it.  It was pretty frustrating to realize that after all this time I still didn’t have all the right parts.  Once again I started thinking that I should have just bought a Ford with Sync factory installed.

Here’s my review of the Xenarc MDT-X7000 for anyone that is thinking of getting one.  The short answer is, it’s a great concept but it has a lot of flaws.  I’m going to stick with it until I find something better.  Once I get the right power adaptor for the computer, my next quest will be to install Windows 7.  If I’m going to be bleeding edge on the hardware, I might as well go all out on the software.  I’ve had Vista on the FJ Computer since it was an early Beta, and I haven’t had any problems with it.

I love my FJ, but I can't say the same for the Xenarc MDT-X7000. My first one had an issue that could only be corrected with a firmware update. Problem is though that to update the firmware, you have to take it out of the dash and send it back to the factory. After getting an RMA, packing it up and sending it back, and then waiting for it to return, I probably wasted about six weeks. Lesson learned - don't eBay your factory radio, you'll probably need to reinstall it at times. Mine's been in and out of the dash at least three times. Woody, the guy who helped me with the initial installation made a harness that makes it easy for me to connect new devices while leaving the connectors for the OEM radio when I need it.

The new Xenarc seems to have a couple of problems. I can get VGA to work, but not DVI. I'm pretty sure it is a problem with the X7000 as my computer works fine with other DVI monitors, including a Lilliput touch screen.

Also I'm hearing a sound like plastic gears grinding with the new unit when it retracts. This will be my second installation with a retractable screen and I'm beginning to think they are just more trouble than they are worth.

Even with the firmware update, the screen is pretty ugly. I said in a blog post that it looks like the screen from a Commodore 64 computer. That might be overstating how bad the Commodore looks. The user interface isn't very intuitive either.

As for sound, I don't know. I'm not an audiophile and I'm just using the stock speakers with no amp. I'd say it is no better than the factory radio and probably no worse either. I get a bit of a whine at times.

I'm sorry I don't have better news. When I first found the Xenarc, I thought it would be perfect for the same reasons you did. I'm not using the extra space except for storage, but I liked the idea of it being only 1-DIN. If you do decide to use it, I can send you a link to a nice adaptor for single DIN devices that fit the FJ perfectly and only cost about $30.

November 2, 2008 in Car Computer | Permalink


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