I finally did some work on the the Carputer setup this weekend. While I am not too happy about having to use Windows for my operating system, I am impressed with Centrafuse, the "front End" software that will be my interface in the car. At $80, the front end is reasonably priced, especially for all the features it includes. In addation to the stock features, you can download the SDK and start developing your own plugins and skins, customizing the look, feel, and overall function of the suite.
Current Hardware setup:
Intel ATOM D510
2x 1Gb RAM PC2-6300
32Gb SATA SSD - Adata
7" Touch Screen
Windows 7 Ultimate
PDANet for internet via Droid.
Centrafuse comes with built in support for many car/hands free operations. When it first launches, after a complete reboot, it takes a minute for it to load the plugins and of course there is that nice little warning prompt you have to get through. Once that is complete, about 5 seconds, your ready to start enjoying all the benefits it has to offer, Including...
Audio playback with visualations,
Pandora - (User generated plugin)
There are many more features, but I haven't had a chance to test all of them. Once I get the rest of the Hardware required, i'll post more information.
All in all, the system runs great, from pressing of power button to full boot, it takes 23 seconds. Standby takes 10 seconds to show screen and be usable but the music resumes playing after 1 second. Centrafuse was extremely responsive, with minor glitches on the visual effects here and there, not bad considering the graphics are embedded in the processor. The interface was more than touch friendly and looked great at 800/600. I toyed with the idea of running a higher resolution but realized at this point there is no need.
I hope to have everything in my car within a month. Of course this is also about the same time I expect to be pulling out the engine but that project should only take a few months. (keeps fingers crossed). Once I have some miles on the system i'll try to remember to post a complete write-up on the performance and usability of the system while driving. Next step will be to install a guardrail avoidance system. :-)