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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Honest business: 1, international crime syndicate: 0. Eric Blumberg owns Rent-In-Style, an L.A. based high end rental car company, which offers clients an opportunity to take out premium luxury and performance vehicles for a couple hours or even a week.
How’s this for a driving distraction – a GPS-enable rearview mirror that features a 4-inch touchscrren, Bluetooth and games.
This innovation, brought to you by gadget wholesalers Chinavasion, is a kit that can replace any standard rearview mirror. The biggest perks it offers is its GPS and Bluetooth 2.1 capabilities, as well as a 4.3-inch touchscreen for multimedia playback, touchscreen games and DVR options that allow you to record inside and outside the car.
The kit is easy to install, as it fits right over your old mirror. Its GPS unit uses a SiRF Atlas VI chip and a Centrality Atlas 4 Dual-Core 500 MHz processor. Plus, you can run most major brands of GPS software through it (TomTom, iGO, Route66). For hands-free calls, the kit comes equipped with a microphone and speakers, as well as allows you to listen to music through a Bluetooth connected mobile phone. Giving you a clear line of sight behind you, it features a waterproof wireless rearview camera, as well as a camera built into the mirror that can record video and interior and exterior sound.
The games and multimedia playback capabilities should be enjoyed while your car is in the parked position. You can play some of the games that come included on its 480 x 272 pixel 4.3-inch touchscreen, As well, you can watch MP4, AVI, MPG, WMV and 3GP videos and listen to MP3, WMA and WAV audio files. It also supports BMP, JPG, PNG and GIF images and TXT documents.
The kit sells for about $200 and is available for purchase on the Chinavasion website.
The latest characters to join TomTom’s growing list of celebrity voices are Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.
Developed with Sesame Workshop and Locutio Voice Technologies, the famous Muppet pair will get you to where you need to go. You and your kids will have blast hto any destination, as Bert and Ernie keep you amused with directions and banter, such as: U-turn ahead, Bert. Just me turn? All of us Bert.”
You can download Bert and Ernie for your TomTom device for $12.95. And be sure to watch the “making of” video after the jump.
Distracted driving isn’t just limited to texting and talking on your cell phone. Now, more than ever, there are so many things that can shift our attention from the road like GPS units and MP3 players.
To cut down on all the potential distractions that surround you in your car, a company called ALPS has come up with a concept steering wheel that cuts out all those buttons and instead offers touch sensitive pads.
Designed to be safer for drivers, the ALPS wheel trackpad would let you centralize all of the commands you commonly use in your vehicle and put it right in the steering wheel. To check directions or change a tune, all it takes is the sweep of a finger, kind of like using a smartphone. This means you wouldn’t have to take your eyes off the road when you wanted to crank the volume on your stereo. In the future, the ALPS wheel trackpad could even incorporate handwriting recognition, which would make it much easier to type in directions to your GPS.
[Source: Oh Gizmo]
TomTom is launching a limited edition GO LIVE “Top Gear” edition satnav device, featuring the hit British motoring TV show’s star presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, as well as its resident driving extraordinaire, the Stig.
The new TomTom GO LIVE starts at $269.95 and will include a one year free subscription of HD Traffic, a technology that will prompt traffic updates every two minutes, offer detailed incident reports, the length of delay, as well as accurate travel times and alternate route proposals in order to help commuters combat ever frustrating traffic congestion. Moreover, the limited edition device will offer unique Top Gear selected points of interest including race track and raceway locations related to the series. Jeremy Clarkson, known for his passionate disapproval of speed cameras, will be pleased to know that the GO LIVE will also send nearby speed camera alerts for the driver.
But the best part: Clarkson will be the default navigation voice for TomTom’s new device. However, when switched to Stig Mode, some say the device gets puzzled if the satellite positioning system does not indicate the vehicle is located within the Top Gear test track. All we know is the device instantly turns silent.
GALLERY: TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition
Your teenager just got their license and you’re a little worried about where they are going with your car. You can keep an eye on them – and your car – with iTeen365.
A GPS system that tracks your car and your teen, the iTeen365 needs to be professionally installed in your vehicle. Once that’s taken care of, you just set up a geofence online, and watch where your teen is going. You can watch your vehicle online at the iTeen365 website with your user account.
This account will save up to four months of detailed driving reports, including information regarding where your car has been and if your teen stayed within the speed limits. If you can’t be logged on to your account 24/7, you can get text or email alerts when your car leaves or enters specified zones.
If you’re worried about your teen messing around with the system, don’t be – the iTeen365 device is hard-wired into the vehicle’s ignition column and battery, and is mounted behind the dash. The system costs $289, plus an installation cost of about $65. If you want to get it removed, that will cost extra. On top of that, concerned parents have to pay a month cost, which ranges from $17.95 to $21.95 per month for services, depending on the length of the contract.
If you trust you teen, but are a little worried about all those late night meetings your husband or wife has been having, you can always go with the iSpouse365, which the company describes as being the cheaper alternative to hiring a private detective. The company has a range of products so you can keep track of all the drivers in your life – you can check them out on the iTeen365 website. And be sure to check out the promotional video after the jump.
What do you think? Are we treading to far into “Big Brother” zone or should we keep a close eye on our teens to make sure they aren’t getting into trouble? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.
It’s easy to panic when you’re stranded by the side of the road after your car breaks down or you’re late for an early morning meeting and it just won’t start. Helping you keep your cool and stay safe, AAA has some advice for stranded motorists.
In a case where your car just won’t start, the problem may lie with the battery. It could be that it’s discharged or there’s a poor connection. Open the hood and check out the battery to see if it’s securely mounted in place and see if the cable clamps are connected to the battery. Cable clamps that are loose or corroded may be the problem. Clean the corrosion from the battery terminals and cable clamps and make sure the clamps are secured tight. If that doesn’t work, check to see if your car is fully in park and that there’s enough fuel in the vehicle. If all else fails, it’s time to call in a road service provider.
If you ever find yourself experiencing car problems while driving, your first priority is pulling off to a safe location. This should be away from the flow of traffic, and you should stay in your car while waiting for roadside assistance. Once you’re safe, you can call your road service provider. Take a look around and take note of your surroundings, landmarks and signs – anything that will help roadside assistance find your location. There are even certain smartphone apps (such as AAA TripTik Mobile and AAA Roadside) that will send your GPS location right to your roadside assistance provider.
Once roadside assistance has picked you up, you need to decide where to take it to get fixed. If you’re far from home and can’t get it to your regular mechanic, the easiest way to find a repair ship is with the help of a handy smartphone app (again the AAA TripTik Mobile and AAA Roadside apps can help you out here).
Turn to the dark side… and then turn right… and you’re at your destination. Darth Vader will guide with step by step instructions to your destination – good or evil – as he’s the newest voice available for Garmin GPS.
Joining the ranks of SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and Squirrely the Squirrell, Darth Vader is going to tell you exactly where to go, complete with heavy breathing and thinly veiled threats. “Proceed as indicated, don’t make me destroy you” and “Go straight on, the Emperor awaits” are just a few of the commands that will ensure you don’t make a wrong turn.
You can download Vader from the Garmin website for $12.99. The bundle includes TIE fighter vehicle icon to display on your Garmin map screen as you drive on your far, far away commute.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Pioneer is living up to its name by being one of the first to specialize in a GPS units made specifically for electric vehicles. The company’s latest AVIC-ZH09-MEV head unit is set to launch in Japan later this month and is specifically designed for vehicles such as Nissan‘s Leaf and Chevrolet‘s Volt. To aid in maximizing an electric vehicle’s battery range, Pioneer employs their proprietary software in order to route drivers with the most battery-efficient route to their destinations.
As expected, the route may not be the fastest or the shortest, but rather provide the greatest potential for battery charging through regenerative braking. In addition, the GPS will come with a database of charging stations and will even estimate the cost of each route. And of course the head unit comes with your standard CD/DVD drive with multimedia format support, a USB port, SD card reader and 5.1-channel support.
It’s currently priced at around $3,000 but there’s no confirmations on whether or not Pioneer will export it to other markets.
Cadillac is getting ready to reveal a new infotainment system, and while details are tightly under wraps, the system is expected to be introduced in its 2013 models. Some sources have claimed that the luxury brands infotainment system is far more advanced then what BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi has to offer.
With Ford having difficulties with its MyFordTouch (available on its Lincoln products), it’s likely that Cadillac may offer a simplified system that uses more intuitive physical controls rather than a touch screen system. Hyundai has opted for this setup on their Equus luxury sedan, and it has won praise from critics and consumers alike.
[Source: CarTech Blog]
The Supreme Court will rule on whether or not law enforcement officers need a warrant in order to track a suspect’s vehicle with a GPS device.
This case is based on Antoine Jones, whose vehicle was being tracked for a month without his consent or consent from the justice department. The police are arguing that tracking should not require a warrant because the location of a vehicle on public streets is public knowledge. The others are arguing that this type of surveillance is an unjust invasion of privacy. However, Jones was caught selling cocaine when his vehicle was being monitored.
Lower courts have agreed with Jones’ attorneys regarding privacy, however there is a precedent for allowing evidence to be obtained through warrantless GPS tracking.
Toyota will be adding a function to its onboard navigation systems that gives on-screen and voice alerts to wrong way drivers.
The system was developed with Aisin AW Co., Ltd. and Denso Corporation and the function will monitor the vehicle’s direction. This system will work on highways and selected toll roads, including tollgates, service area ramps, turnoffs, and junctions. Toyota will incorporate the new function into the navigation systems as dealer-installed options in Japan starting June 1.
Advances in communications-based map-updating technology and in pinpoint position-recognition technology has made this funtion possible.
Recently, there have been approximately 1,000 wrong-way driving accidents reported annually in Japan, and statistically, a higher percentage of senior drivers are involved.
Hyundai is partnering with technology company NAVTEQ to offer drivers a “green” option for route guidance. The “green” choice will apparently yield a 6 percent bump in fuel economy, which should dovetail nicely with Hyundai’s new Sonata Hybrid and their Elantra, Veloster and Accent small cars, which are capable of 40 mpg on the highway.
Of course, driving in anger during a high traffic stop and go commute is the worst way to conserve fuel, but also the most common mode of driving for many people.
Hit the jump to read the press release
Will the snow ever stop? Until it does (and even when it’s not falling), at least there’s the new Waze app that works with your iPhone to alert drivers to what hazards are awaiting for you on the road.
The waze app is the first real-time voice-based hazard reporting feature for GPS commuters and travelers worldwide that lets iPhone users stay alert and get to their destinations safely. If a user sees any number of road hazards, weather conditions, and potentially dangerous obstacles, they can report it by using the app. You can record a brief voice-description and let others in the area know what’s going on, who will be warned by fellow wazers’ voice-alert beforehand. Think of it as “Paying it forward” and sending some good driving karma your way.
Some of the hazardous conditions you can report on include traffic and accidents ahead, as well as dangerous weather conditions such as ice, heavy snow and flooding.
“Everyday, drivers are faced with any number of dangers on the road including ice, accidents, and flooding for example. The unpredictable nature of these hazards and lack of immediate road data leaves drivers vulnerable to the conditions ahead,” said Noam Bardin, CEO of waze. “The only way this information can be collected and distributed in real-time is by the initiative of group-minded individuals and a means to warn their fellow drivers.”
You can get the waze app at the Apple AppStore and Android Market Place. It can also be downloaded from the waze website for Symbian and Windows Mobile devices.
Your GPS has never steered you wrong in the past. So when it comes to seeing some, umm, unusual sites on your next road trip, put your trust in it once more. Just add RoadsideAmerican.com’s latest guide to your Garmin GPS device and you’ll be taking shots of interesting locales around the U.S., such as the drive-through tree or the world’s largest six pack.
RoadsideAmerica.com Attractions and Oddities guide ($20) offers over 5,000 add-on points of interest that can be downloaded directly to a Garmin navigation device. You can get your fix of unusual sites in all 50 states, as the guide, which comes complete with photos and categories, tells you where you should stop.
RoadSideAmerica also gives you important info like directions, hours, and phone numbers. And to make your search simple, you can filter by type, such as museums, statues, architecture, or “natural” attractions.
To get your offbeat guide, just click here.
Are you looking to get somewhere and avoid a speeding ticket? If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to hear that Escort has launched the new Passport iQ, a fully integrated driving accessory that comes equipped with a radar detector, GPS navigation and more.
Touted as “the ultimate driving companion,” the compact Passport iQ integrates radar/laser detection and GPS navigation, and also provides important driving information, such as speed traps and speed limit data, and displays all this information on a five-inch screen.
This device, which the company says is the first of its kind, uses innovative technology to bring you this ticket-saving information. “Escort engineers were able to change the standard radar detector form by designing a radically new microwave antenna assembly,” said Tim Coomer, Escort’s vice president of New Product Development. “Until the merging of these two major mobile technologies by Escort, drivers had no choice but to purchase and connect separate driving devices at the same time. The Passport iQ accommodates and combines these technologies into one, easy-to-use device.”
Based on the PASSPORT 9500ix, the company’s GPS-enabled windshield mount radar and laser detector, the iQ offers drivers their current speed and heading as well as speed limit information. If speed limits change and drivers are going faster than the posted speed, Passport iQ lets them know. It also overlays red light cameras, speed cameras, and high risk speed traps on its navigation screen and features a user-friendly choice of visual and audio alerts and can be displayed in selectable formats and colors.
The Passport iQ retails for $649.95, which is worth the price if you’re a driver who tends to accumulate speeding tickets. Escort offers the iQ on a 30-day free trial basis and it comes with a 90-day free trial subscription to Escort’s Defender Database, which comes loaded with thousands of speed trap locations.
Another day, another smartphone app. This time around, it’s courtesy of GM. They’ve released a free app that allows owners of all 2011 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles to access vehicle information and OnStar services.
There are two different apps available. The first is called myChevrolet (or myBuick or myCadillac, depending on what GM car you drive), which lets you search the owner’s manual by scanning the car’s vehicle identification number with the phone’s camera. And if your phone has GPS, it comes with a function that finds you a parking and will track how much time is left on your parking meter. You can add photos and details about the parking spot to share with others (because sometimes when you get that super sweet spot, you just need to share it with your friends). It also tells you about specific warning indicators if they’re lit, and you can request roadside assistance or find the nearest GM dealership to schedule service.
The second is the OnStar MyLink app, which allows you to unlock your car remotely, start the engine, activate the alarm and check your tire pressure as well as other diagnostic systems. Even though it’s free to download, the OnStar MyLink app requires a service plan that starts at $18.95 a month.
Get ready to upgrade your driving directions. Garmin has just updated the 1600 GPS series with the new Garmin NuLink 1695.
Available this September, the Nuvi has changed its name to NuLink for the 1695. This is to signify the importance of the NuLink service, which offers a data connection to the portable GPS unit. The NuLink service brings drivers traffic information, weather forecasts, fuel prices, flight status, and other real-time, location-relevant content, including Google Local Search for points of interest, right to your dashboard.
Also new for the NuLink 1695 is the addition of the NuLink Store, where you can buy optional premium services. Purchasers of the 1695 receive one year of the NuLink service.
There are plenty of features that come with the NuLink 1695. A few notable ones include myTrends destination prediction, trafficTrends, ecoRoute software for fuel-efficient routing and driving, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and a speakerphone. It also comes with a 5-inch screen (that’s an upgrade from the 1690’s 4.3-inch display).
The Garmin NuLink 1695 sells for $449.99. The NuLink service will be free for the first year after purchase, and you can continue to receive the service for $5 per month after that.
One of the downsides of winter (What? There’s a down side?) has to do with driving and your GPS device. If you own one, you know what we’re talking about – you have to take off your gloves in order to work your unit. Well, thanks to TomTom and its new European-market GO Live 1000 series, this problem may be a thing of the past.
Giving you the advantages of multitouch and requiring less pressing force to register an input, the GO Live 1000 is outfitted with a new “Fluid Touch” interface. This handy feature makes the most of its capacitive screen in order to make maps and menus easier to navigate. It also makes it possible to install functionality enhancing applications – and who doesn’t love a great app?
The 1000 unit will also be able to connect to TomTom’s Live data service and will give users access to HD Traffic updates, weather forecasts, speed and traffic camera locations, flight information, and Google Local Search. With the purchase price comes one year of the TomTom Live service.
Coming soon is the TomTom GO Live 1005 model, which will features a larger 5-inch display. Both GPS units come equipped with a new suction cup mount and a magnetic cradle. This lets you place and remove the device with one hand.
The bad news is that the TomTom GO Live 1000 and 1005 have only been officially announced for the European market. But like most TomTom units that started out on the other side of the pond, we’re sure that these new models will make the jump to North America soon (fingers crossed that we see them before the winter).
Adding fuel to the fire called the entry-level GPS market, Garmin has launched two new Nuvi lines – the 2200 series and the 2300 series.
In the 2200 series are three new models: 2200, 2250, and 2250LT. Boasting a 3.5-inch display, the Nuvi 2200 comes with Garmin’s cool ecoRoute fuel-efficient routing and driving tools technology. It also comes with MyTrends, a handy feature that remembers your favorite destinations and automatically comes up with routes and travel times.
In the way of maps, the 2200 comes complete with maps of the lower 48 United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, and the Cayman Islands. The 2250 steps it up a notch by offering maps of Mexico. Rounding out the series is the “LT,” which means drivers get lifetime traffic.
The 2200 series is available for sale on the Garmin website – the 2200 sells for $149.99, the 2250 for $159.99 and the 2250LF for $179.99.
When it comes to the 2300 series, you get the same ecoRoute software and myTrends features, but the bonus of larger 4.3-inch wide screen displays. The 2300 comes with all the same maps as well, while the 2300LM model adds lifetime map updates. The 2350 comes with maps of Mexico, the 2350LT adds lifetime traffic, and a 2350MT offers both lifetime maps and traffic.
There are also the Nuvi 2360LT and 2360MT, equipped with all features of the models mentioned as well as the addition of Bluetooth wireless. They even work with Garmin’s ecoRoute HD module for accurate fuel economy estimates and vehicle diagnostics, as well as lifetime traffic (LT) or lifetime maps and traffic (MT). At the top of the 2300 series you’ll find the 2370LT, bursting with North American and European maps.
The Garmin Nuvi 2300 retails for $199.99 and 2300LM retails $239.99. Upgrading to the 2350, 2350LT, or 2350MT will cost you $209.99, $229.99, or $269.99 respectively. If you’ve got money to spend, the Nuvi 2360LT and 2360MT sell for $259.99 and $299.99, while the 2370LT model will cost $299.99.
Are you lost? Finding you’re way around is as easy as looking in your rear-view mirror, thanks to the MirrorNavi.
Brought to you by the smart folks at Ford, this new Garmin sat-nav is integrated directly into your car’s rear-view mirror. This gadget, built by Garmin and Wollnikom, replaces your existing rear-view mirror, and consists of an ordinary mirror and a 320×240-pixel, 89mm (3.5-inch) touchscreen display located on the far left side of the mirror. It’s available in the UK at the moment and no word when it will be jumping the pond.
The mirror gives you the ability to see what’s behind you and dims automatically at night to reduce glare. The GPS unit itself is based on Garmin’s nuvi 265T, so it’s packed with features while still remaining small.
Cool features to get you around include voice prompts for turns, voice-recognition navigation, lane assistance, trafficTrends (which calculates routes based on predicted traffic levels), and FM traffic to keep you up to date on accidents and construction.
It also comes with built-in solid-state memory (which can be upgraded via a microSD card) and a built-in Bluetooth adaptor.
You can install the MirrorNavi in any Ford car, with the exception of the Ranger and 2009 Ka for £300 (that’s about $600) plus installation charges at your local Ford garage.
Arguing and driving – it’s sometime hard to separate the two in the car, especially when it comes to spouses. A British survey conducted by car accessories retailer Halfords says that than 70 percent of drivers admit to being involved in some sort of in-car argument in the last month and 18 percent confessed they have in-car fights at least once a week. In the US, drivers fair a bit better – navigation software producer TeleNav did a similar survey and found that 55 percent of respondents reported being involved in arguments while driving.
In the Halfords study, 65 percent said that the fights started because of the other person’s poor navigation skills. And here’s a no-brainer – 80 percent of the women polled complained that their partners never looked at the directions before hand, while 85 percent argued because of the driver’s refusal to ask for directions once they got lost.
And we’re not so different on this side of the pond. The TeleNav survey found that the most common reason for road rage between couples was due to opposing views on how to get to a location and refusing to ask for directions. To add insult to injury, 17 percent of respondents accused the other of being a bad driver.
So how do you resolve this issue? Getting a GPS would solve the problem. However, we don’t really have any concrete solutions about how to do away with fights that start because of bad driver accusations. An old saying comes to mind: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” That is, at least, until you reach you destination, and you don’t have to worry about walking the rest of the way.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
GPS has made our lives so much easier. So how do you improve the experience? Well, by making it much more fun to get to your destination. Get rid of that old arrow that shows you the way around and replace it with a cool icon that takes you anywhere you need to go.
In the evolution of the GPS – cool extras like the Darth Vader or Dennis Hopper telling you to turn left here, or new cell phones that offer free, integrated turn-by-turn navigation – you can now download these moving icons onto your Garmin Nuvi.
There are so many GPS characters to choose from. You can go with a classic or souped up car (since that’s the only way you’d ever be able to afford to drive that model). For the kids, you can download Sponge Bob Squarepants (although, he doesn’t seem like the brightest character on that cartoon show – you might not want to follow him anywhere). You can even follow movie characters such as Bumblebee from the Transformers and C3PO from Star Wars. These fun little guys don’t improve the functionality of your Nuvi in any way, but it does make the screen a little more enjoyable to watch. The Nuvi vehicle downloads are free from a non-Garmin-affiliated third party. You can try them our by clicking here.
Using Google Maps to plot your route is a major convenience on a home computer, but there’s no good solution on taking them with you. Printing them is cumbersome, and inputing them onto a smartphone or PDA is just another level of distraction.
Now, Ford and Google have teamed up to let you send your Google Maps data right to your car via Sync. Combined with a mobile phone (used for downloading the Google Maps Data), the route information can be sent directly to the GPS system in a Sync equipped vehicle, and drivers can get real-time traffic updates thanks to a tie-in with Sync’s Traffic, Directions and Information system. The service will launch later this month, with a Mapquest based system coming later in 2010.
Hit the jump for the official press release