We're kicking ourselves because we didn't get a chance to play with the DashDaq onboard computer at SEMA last week where it won a Best New International Product Award. Actually, to call it an onboard computer is generalizing its capabilities a bit too much. The small handhelt unit plugs into your vehicle's OBD-II port and can be used for data acquisition, diagnostics, as an extra set of gauges and as a good old fashioned handheld computer. The secret to this little guy's high must-have quotient is the fact it runs on Linux and comes with tools to help you write custom software for it. So besides what it can do out of the box, a clever programmer can have it be a GPS sat nav unit, multimedia player, or even an actual onboard computer. The fact that its maker, Drew Technologies, is keeping the DashDaq open source gives it a huge advantage over other devices, most notably high-end sat nav systems, that come with similar features but can never be modified to do more.

Aside from the flexible software, the actual hardware is impressive too, particularly the 4-inch TFT LCD screen that displays 16.7 million colors (that's all of 'em) and features 480 x 272 resolution. Follow the jump for shots of how good the screen images look, as they are completely unaltered from what you would see on the actual unit. You can also check out this movie of the unit in action and DT's webpage where computer nerds who are smarter than us will appreciate all the things this little grey box can do. Drew Technologies is hoping to have the DashDaq on the market by early 2007 at an MSRP of $595, which, with a little help from a thriving open source programming community creating killer applications, could have the big boys in the satellite navigation and data acquisition markets asking for directions.

[Source: Drew Technologies]


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