What's Dash up to? We'll find out soon when this stealthy start-up unveils whatever it is it does at DemoFall. Dash's prelaunch buzzwords encompass the right array of current hot topics in car tech: data interchange between vehicles, predictive traffic data, location-based services and information. Sounds like both hardware and a network. It's a general vision that is hard to fault, but nobody has a handle on it yet.
Now we just need a Bluetooth iPod.
Sharp-eyed reader Jay Shin took exception with my last column
wherein I portrayed Sony's MEX-BT5000
as the first car stereo to use Bluetooth to stream high-fidelity music from a portable. He suggested Pioneer got there first with its 980BT
head units. Indeed, they do stream high-fidelity stereo audio from properly equipped devices, but you'd never know it from Pioneer's product pages online, which focus only on the units' hands-free calling capability. After my chat with Pioneer this morning, the company remains noncommittal on the rumors of an imminent Bluetooth iPod
, but Sony and Pioneer wouldn't offer head units with A2DP streaming just for kicks.
If cell phone navigation leaves you flat, this might not. TeleNav's new GPS Navigator 5 is out there, enabling cell phones to do navigation with 3D screens, not just the flat map view you've probably seen on navigating phones so far. It may sound like a minor thing when you're dealing with such small real estate, but that small screen makes clear, contextual visuals even more necessary. Take a look. The new TeleNav technology also has the ability to map out Wi-Fi hot spots, cheap gas, and various businesses along your route, as well as letting you stick a sort of virtual pushpin where you parked your car. TeleNav 5 currently works only on the Sanyo Katana, the Sanyo MM-7500, and the LG Fusic.
Not to be confused with TeleNav is Tele Atlas and it has interesting news as well. Ever used a mapping service or device and find that it's wrong? Yeah, me too. Hard to blame anyone, it's a big country with a lot of stuff to monitor. So Tele Atlas is launching a new online tool that lets users of any Web service or navigation device powered by Tele Atlas data send in corrections in a focused way. It's called Map Insight, and not only does it give you a way to report bad data without sending a free-form e-mail to some support box, it also recruits customers to help the Tele Atlas mapping department for free! Among the companies that get their map data from Tele Atlas are MapQuest, Mio, Pioneer, Rand McNally, and TomTom.
And once you get TeleNav and Tele Atlas straight, add another name: Uniden. Best known for cordless phones and walkie-talkies, the company has just entered the exceptionally crowded GPS nav gadget business. Its new MapTrax line hits stores this fall and will try to stand out with Bluetooth integration that embraces caller ID on the nav screen with any nearby paired Bluetooth phone. And one of its new models will debut with a very large 7-inch LCD--to go bigger, you have to go in-dash.
It's getting complicated out there.
Do you use an in-car nav solution?
Between MP3/WMA/iTunes and CDs, broadcast radio and satellite radio, and HD Radio, Logic 7, Bose, JBL, and Levinson speakers and amps--whew--you almost certainly have more advanced audio in your car than in your home. The Polk I-Sonic
might help to even that score a bit. Think of it as sort of an ultimate table radio, if I may use the old industry term. It does HD Radio, DVD, CD, XM, aux in, and of course, AM and FM broadcast. It has an internal speaker system that looks fairly ambitious and overall is sort of a Bose Wave radio for the tech-forward crowd. The price is OK at $599, but man, is it ugly. I would expect to find something like this from Sharper Image or Brookstone, not from Polk. At any rate, it certainly helps you maintain continuity between your in-car and in-home audio choices.
You know I love diesels, and that may lead me to love Citroen a bit. The company's chairman, Claude Satinet, is talking up a prototype of a diesel electric hybrid that will be at the Paris Auto Show in a few weeks--all the goodness of a hybrid with the added efficiency of a diesel. Love it. More importantly, he says they'll put some kind of diesel electric hybrid into production by 2010, with electric motors mounted in the rear wheels rather than in the front end of the drive train. CNET will be at the Paris show, and I'll make sure this concept is one we come back with.
Oil filters are like staplers, they just haven't changed a whole lot: metal cans with a wad of something porous inside that you force oil through. Simple and they work. So I'm a little skeptical of the new high-tech oil filter from Fram for high-mileage cars. It releases some kind of goo that is supposed to be good for sloppy old engines over 75,000 miles. I've tried every oil additive in the book and don't really think any of them do a damned thing. I used to love that viscous stuff that came in the tall glass bottle--mostly because the bubble inside rose like a giant pearl in a lava lamp when you turned the bottle over, not because it reduced blow-by appreciably in my ancient Datsun 510.
When does a classic become too high tech? Reader Jamison Savits asked me if he would have trouble restoring and maintaining a '73 Dart he has his eye on due to the lack of high-tech parts. While a '73 won't likely have such parts issues, it's an interesting question from a 25-year-old whose interest in classic cars will probably start with mid-'70s vehicles and extend into cars of the '80s when things started to get computerized and proprietary. Under the hood of a mid-'80s vehicle, there's sure to be a lot of quasi-digital parts and numerous electro/vacuum/mechanical doodads that are either not reproduced or don't do well in a dusty, hot junkyard or both. I really wonder if the '70s will be the last decade era to yield practical future classics, with high-tech curtailing the old car hobby beyond that.