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Entertainment Options for your Car
gadgets are not only about getting from point A to point B. They are
also about the experience on the way. One of the major trends the
car audio equipment makers are embracing is the ability for car
stereos to play MP3 digital music files.
Visteon, which makes gear for Ford vehicles, has a product
called the MACH MP3 Music System that will initially be available
via the company's web site. Aiwa and Kenwood also make in-car MP3
players. Aiwa's CDC-MP3 costs about $450, and Kenwood's Z919 sells
There's also the
"hard-drive in the trunk" approach. Visteon also has the
MACH MP3 Jukebox that can play up to 4,000 songs. Mobile music fans
can transfer their MP3 collection onto a palm-sized removable
storage cartridge that connects to the PC via a USB docking station.
A sophisticated alternative to
the fold-up map is the CD-ROM driven navigation system.
VDO Dayton, for example, provides a series of GPS-enabled
systems that include a small dash-mounted monitor and a remote
are loaded in to the system via a CD-ROM drive. Seven CDs can be
purchased for regions in the U.S. One CD provides Canadian maps.
Devices- For the
mobile professional, business doesn't have to stop when you strap on
the seat belt. Granted, it's pretty risky accessing your Palm or
even using your cell phone while driving. But MobileAria has a
solution that allows you to keep both hands on the wheel.
The company, a
start-up owned by Delphi Automotive Systems and Palm Inc., has
developed the Communiport MPCpro, a system that provides voice
access to your Palm and cellular.
Mounted on your dashboard, the Mobile Productive Center (MPC)
is a docking station that connects your Palm and cell phone
together. Using only your voice, you can access e-mail, notes, to-do
lists, stock quotes, news and weather. Just speak commands clearly
and the MPCpro will answer. Your cellular phone can also access the
Palm's address book to make calls.
Options- New gadgets aren't just impacting the
driver. In-car entertainment gear is changing the passenger
experience as well. Video equipment that plays movies and video
games have come to the backseat. If you're thinking that
Hollywood squeal and roar in the back seat isn't an appealing
audioscape to drive to, you'll be pleased to know that headphone
jacks can be used with the system while your CDs play on the front
car speakers. One other nice feature: the passengers have access to
an audio volume on their console, but they can't make it any louder
than the threshold set by the driver.
stereos are a wonderful hobby for many people, but it helps to have
good knowledge of what makes them tick to get the most out of your
car stereo system. Letís
review the most important components.
All the sound you hear has to come through the amplifiers, or
amps, so quality does matter when buying these pieces.
Some amplifiers come with built in crossovers. A crossover is
a device that divides the audio into two or more parts, depending on
the frequency of the sound.
This unit mounts in the dash of your vehicle and
generates much of the sound you hear (and controls most of the rest
of the system). If you
want to play Cassettes, CDs, Minidisks, or MP3 files, you'll need to
buy a head unit that can handle that type of media.
The number one thing you can do to make your car stereo
system sound great is to put in good quality speakers.
The best amp, head unit (the part that goes in the dash), CD
player, and speaker cable in the world won't make up for poor
As you can see,
itís very easy to turn your car into a total entertainment system.
It can also be overwhelming.
Great diversity exists not only in the gadgets available, but
also in taste. Sample
the goods. Donít buy on impulse Ė it could be very costly in the
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