Introduction

 

The 370Z storage cubby is a perfect location for mounting a tablet computer and the expanded capabilities enabled by accelerometers, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, and a virtually unlimited range of apps combine to make it an attractive choice over the Nav system --- if only it was available as an option.   Until now, the installing a tablet or carputer meant you needed to have the fabrication skills to make your own tablet mount or pay a high-end custom car audio shop to do the work for you.  Even then, stock tablet computers are not really well-suited for mobile installations due to power and other issues.   However, thanks to the work of some talented Android developers and hobbyists, this has become increasingly possible as evidenced by the many high-quality installations you can find on mp3car.com and many other car enthusiast sites.  With so many tablet options now available, it is essential that the user carefully consider and decide what capabilities and applications are desired before choosing which tablet to use as these will dictate the hardware constraints. Some of the most important items to consider are:

 

Will the tablet be mounted as a fixed or removable installation?

 

A removable installation is appealing for obvious reasons, but it significantly complicates the installation if it is to retain a factory-installed appearance.  Also, a removable installation presents a big challenge for maintaining reliable connections when the tablet is frequently removed. Even if it works initially, the relatively harsh automotive environment, vibration, temperature changes, and normal wear can lead to intermittent connections and power glitches, which will quickly ruin an otherwise great experience.

 

Fixed installations, while appearing simpler, are also challenging.  Most notably, since you lose the convenience of removing and recharging the tablet, a completely discharged battery or some errant application cannot be as easily recovered when you don't have the convenience of removing the tablet.  Moreover, some applications can increase the power consumption above the normal charging current, which can completely drain the battery even though it is being powered.   Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these issues so long as they are anticipated and accounted for during the planning.

 

How will the tablet connect to the Internet?

 

Since any tablet computer has very limited functionality without Internet access, it's important to plan how connectivity will be provided from the start.  Most tablets can be purchased with built-in 3G/4G/LTE connectivity and all can be connected via Wi-Fi to a mobile phone or mobile hotspot. If you are planning to tether to a mobile phone, jailbreaking the phone may be necessary unless you are willing to pay extra charges to your carrier. You should also be prepared to have to re-establish the Wi-Fi connection between the tablet and phone whenever you get into the car.

 

How will the tablet will pass audio to the radio or head unit?

 

Certainly one of the best features of the tablet is the ability to play music and podcasts, but many other applications such as navigation also require an audio connection. Most 370Z models include Bluetooth enabled phone connections; but they may not be useable for playing music or other audio from the tablet. A separate Bluetooth receiver can be plugged into the Aux-In connector to provide the audio connection to the tablet. The Miccus Mini-jack RX Wireless Music Receiver is one such device that works well for this.  However, you should keep in mind If you use the tablet Bluetooth connection for audio, you will not be able to simultaneously connect to other devices such as a keyboard or the car's on-board diagnostic (OBD) port.

 

A better option is to use a USB DAC to output audio from the tablet to the radio or head unit Aux-In input. This method gives a very robust connection with greater fidelity than a Bluetooth.  The tablet passes digital audio to the DAC though USB connection and the output of the DAC goes into the radio Aux-In input through a standard 3.5mm stereo audio cable.  Although the stock Bose radio does not include a rear Aux-In input, one can be easily added with some basic soldering skills. Alternatively, an iSimple Gateway can be added to provide connectivity to the factory radio, but this is significantly more expensive.

 

How will the tablet be powered?

 

The importance of providing a clean stable power source to the tablet cannot be over-emphasized to achieve reliability, keeping the tablet charged, and providing immunity from normal power glitches.  While the tablet can be powered from the power ports located beneath the glove box or wired up through the console, they can be problematic.  A better option is power the tablet from a USB hub high current (2A) charging port, and to power the hub from a programmable DC-DC converter which provides a more stable and flexible power source. The Minibox DC-DC Converter with USB Interface can be programmed to provide a 5V or 12V output and to even stay on for a specified period after the ignition is switched off, thereby ensuring that the tablet stays charged.