January 18, 2005 5:35 AM PST

Putting the Mac Mini in your dashboard

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There are many companies that will help you connect an iPod to your car, but a small New York business wants to go one step further.

Sloatsburg, N.Y.-based Classic Restorations has laid out plans to install the Mac Mini in car dashboards.

Photo: Classic
Melvin Benzaquen
president, Classic

The company was already working on a way to install a Mac laptop when Apple Computer introduced the Mac Mini last week. Melvin Benzaquen, president of Classic Restorations, noticed that the dimensions of the diminutive desktop were just about perfect to fit into the space automakers allot for car stereos.

What exactly anyone would do with a Mac in the car is not totally clear, but Benzaquen said there are lots of possibilities, from logging in to one's home network to playing music or movies. Equip the car with Wi-Fi, and it might be able to get Internet access from the parking lot of a Starbucks or McDonald's, he said. GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation and voice-activated programs are other options.

"There are so many things you could do," Benzaquen said.

Although Apple designed the Mac Mini mainly to attract Windows users scared off by higher prices, Mac fans are already thinking up a variety of other uses.

Benzaquen said there is no standard pricing for the car installations because it really depends on the car and what customers want to do with their Macs. However, past installation of Windows-based computers have cost anywhere from $1,500 to $7,000.

"I'm not saying it is going to be the cheapest thing out there," he said, noting that basic GPS-only systems can cost anywhere from $1,100 to $1,300.

When it comes to car installation, the Mac Mini does have some advantages over other PCs, namely its self-cooling design. To kick-start things, Benzaquen said, his company has planned some tests.

It's not clear how big the market is for such a product, but Benzaquen said he has had plenty of interest. His Web site has gone from 1,500 hits a day to more than 36,000 hits in the first full day after announcing the Mac plans.

Benzaquen's main business is restoring classic cars. Technology is something he has moved into--initially by installing modern engines in classic cars. Slowly customers found they wanted more than just a new engine in their old cars, so he moved into computers.

"We actually kind of fell into it because of our customers," he said.

Other commercial ventures have also cropped up around the Mac Mini. Texas-based Underwriters Technologies on Monday announced a Web-hosting service that uses Mac Minis as part of a server farm for companies that can't afford their own Xserve servers.

"The Mac Mini has more than enough power to handle the Web needs of 80 percent of the businesses in the world," Underwriters Technologies President Jay Menna said in a statement.


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I considered this for all of 2 seconds...
Until I realized that yah know MN winters ranging from the teens to neg twenty's it would kill the disk in the mini after a handful of cold (and I mean COLD) startups. Never mind summers where in a car it can get into the 100's pretty easily if you don't have the window cracked. And we won't even get into the whole theft thing.
Or then there is appropriately mounting a BT mouse and keyboard in a car in a meaningful manner. The conclusion I came to is even though I have enough skills to hack this into my car myself its not worth the trouble. Now I may reconsider if I get a Prius this summer. If I could hack the touch panel to work with a Mac Mini using the touch screen. That would be sweet.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Reply Link Flag
you could hack the mainboard to install a toggle switch to control the on and off function of the laptop or mini-pc and for cooling and heating install fans in the dash that turns on using a temp control or reverse the fans for heat since the laptop has to be cool all the time it would help to put fans in a series wireinto the vehicles temp guages or set a temp guage within the laptop or mac mini

hope this helps
Posted by tnalls (1 comment )
Link Flag
How about this?
I thought the same thing even down here in balmy WI. Then I thought maybe an option to "un dock" the unit when you leave it in bad weather. It's small enuf to pop in a briefcase. Another option might be to have some sort of thermo control of the power. As for theft, I guess you could do a phoney radio dial kind of thing ... fake CD player would allow you to load & unload CD's (I'm assuming this thing would handle the audio for the car.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Too cold for the Mac mini? No problem...
"Another option might be to have some sort of thermo control of
the power."

Or better yet, how 'bout just a block heater for the Mac mini? ;)
Posted by dejo (182 comments )
Link Flag
He's not the first
Do a search on "mini-itx and car". Via has been making 17cm x 17cm motherboards with built-in processors for several years now. There are many car kits out there for audio and connectivity.
Posted by d.livingston (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Home Theater Mac
If you are interested in plugging your mac into your home theater, go to: www.hometheatermac.com and find out how.
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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