Laptop Audio MP3 Player
September 28, 2004 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Do you use your laptop in your car? [Inside, there is certain to be more]
posted by mecran01 to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
This ought to be good.
posted by shepd at 12:18 PM on September 28, 2004

I can't really afford an Ipod right now, and I have a 12" ibook. I am wondering if it is feasible to use my laptop in the car to play mp3s. I have an inverter, and don't want to spend $150 for one of those police laptop mounts. Getting the audio through the stereo isn't a problem either. I will probably just put Itunes on shuffle--I don't anticipate fiddling with it while I'im driving.

I'm just wondering if this has worked for anyone.
posted by mecran01 at 12:18 PM on September 28, 2004

This ought to be good

Want me to make some popcorn?
posted by mecran01 at 12:20 PM on September 28, 2004

Yes, mecran, you can do that. I have done it. It's a real pain in the ass, though. I was using winamp on a windows laptop, though, so YMMV. The inverter is fine.

I'd suggest working out some sort of remote control for the laptop, though. Driving and looking at your laptop are not compatible.

I just put the laptop on the passenger's side seat and hoped I didn't have to slam on the breaks. When I was worried I'd wrap it in the seatbelt.

To get the sound to the stereo I used an FM broadcaster, which made terrible sound, but better than nothing.

That sounds awfully ghetto, doesn't it?

(popcorn would be nice! :-)
posted by shepd at 12:21 PM on September 28, 2004

I was planning on starting Itunes and then keeping it almost closes, propped open just enough to keep the cpu from melting, so I wouldn't be too distracted. The Universe is calling me to buy an ipod, but I keep resisting, seeing it as a betrayal of my noble white trash heritage. Plus, no money.
posted by mecran01 at 12:25 PM on September 28, 2004

edit: then keeping the laptop lid almost closed :tide
posted by mecran01 at 12:30 PM on September 28, 2004

In some (many?) states, it's illegal to have a laptop or other display thingie in a place where the driver could have been using it while driving. You may want to check the laws for your state(s)/localities that you're driving through to check the legality of it and decide if the risk is worth it (assuming it's illegal). I'd guess that even in states where it's not explicitly illegal, a cop could write you up a ticket or extra ticket for generic "bad driving". :)
posted by skynxnex at 12:30 PM on September 28, 2004

Yeah. I just want to fire up itunes, stick the laptop on the floor with the lid mostly closed, and have something to make my commute bearable. But it sounds like it would have to be such a kludge that it wouldn't be worth it. Probably a weak question on my part.
posted by mecran01 at 12:36 PM on September 28, 2004

I used to do exactly that with my ibook, I just plugged in one of those tape adapter thingies. I was a bit more picky with my music and adventureous with my driving than it sounds like you are, but I never had any real problems with it being too distracting. It's certainly possible to set it on shuffle or a premade playlist and just let it go. The inverter is a nice touch too, I always just ran on battery, which didn't always last as long as I would have liked. I'd say go for it.
posted by rorycberger at 12:59 PM on September 28, 2004

Oh, and FWIW, an iPod is no more or less distracting than an ibook. If you really want to be distracting try using one of those Griffin iTrips while driving through a city with a lot of radio stations. Worst 40 bucks I ever spent.
posted by rorycberger at 1:01 PM on September 28, 2004

Mecran, it'll work, but I'll be honest: If you're a mac user, you'll hate doing it this way. Us windows users are used to the hard life when it comes to these things, and the pain of packing/unpacking connecting/unconnecting a laptop each time you get into/out of a car pales in comparison to running windows.

If you are using an Apple for the convenience, this will suck, royaly, unless you find some software/hardware addon to make this nicer to use.

It's a ghetto solution for certain. :-) But it works.
posted by shepd at 1:04 PM on September 28, 2004

i'd pick up a CD MP3 player for .. what, $30 now? and get a power adapter/cassette adapter to hook it up to your (hopefully) tape-based stereo (otherwise you have to use the mini-broadcast thingies, which kinda suck). One CD holds approximately 11 hours of music, or 11-12 albums. I realize 700mb != 40gb, but you won't have to worry so much about folks stealing it, and 10 well-organized CDs should fufill your needs for most car trips.
posted by fishfucker at 1:47 PM on September 28, 2004

I've done this. I picked up an auto desk for cheap at a yard sale, and used it to place my laptop on for various stuff driving cross country. Including extensive MP3 listening. It works pretty well. Though I don't think you even really need the autodesk... a couple of well-placed towels would probably do for arranging it in the passengers seat so that you could occasionally hit a button or two.

Combining it with wireless internet access is especially fun (I had Sprint PCS Vision for a while)... but man, you can get distracted and make less time than you thought you would from time to time. Then again, you also stop more.
posted by weston at 3:09 PM on September 28, 2004

Assuming you have a tape player, and assuming you have access to a burner, like fish-erm-effer suggests, why not just burn some choice songs onto a cd, then dub that onto a tape? If you're just planning on playing it on shuffle, then I don't think it would matter that much. I was thinking of getting an iPod, but the price was just so prohibative, that I would up making mixtapes instead. Plus mixtapes are way more indie. And Ghetto.
posted by hughbot at 5:34 PM on September 28, 2004

Thanks for the suggestions. I have no tape player, and cheap cd/mp3 players tend to skip a lot. I tried the laptop thing on the way home, and it was ok, but it can't be good for the laptop for the lid to be bouncing around it it's open. I have no audio injack either and was thinking of ear buds. It the link from music---->final media gets too complex, then I will just never do it. I'll figure something out, thanks.
posted by mecran01 at 10:16 PM on September 28, 2004

but it can't be good for the laptop for the lid to be bouncing around it it's open.

Can't you close it without it turning off?

If not, you might want to either contact Apple or check some users groups on disabling the switch. That would have to be a bug.

If it's just a heat problem, get a big heatsink and keep the laptop on that. I know people who got tired of melting their pants who have used similar ideas.
posted by shepd at 11:00 PM on September 28, 2004

Earbuds while driving = bad idea.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:00 AM on September 29, 2004

Can't you close it without it turning off?

Nope, you can't do that with ibooks. I'd recommend just leaving it all the way open, on the passenger seats.

Headphones while driving is a very bad idea, and almost certainly illegal. Get a FM transmitter with a simple interface for switching channels (preferably a manual switch).
posted by rorycberger at 11:49 AM on September 30, 2004

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