Tag Archives: Automotive

Wireless Charging



I‘ve always been a bit on the fence when it comes to wireless charging. The wireless charger itself still needs to be plugged in with a wire.

Back in October I ended up buying a Samsung wireless charger when I upgraded phones. I ended up using it a bit, but generally found that it was more desirable to physically plug my phone in at home in order to take advantage of the super fast wired Samsung charging. The wireless charging process was not as fast and therefore not as convenient when needing to give the phone a quick 10 or 15 minute juice-up.

So, the wireless charger mostly sat unused.

Recently I bought a new car, a 2017 Toyota Yaris iA. The new car has a space in front of the gear shift in the mid center stack perfect for a large phone that includes USB and a 12-volt power socket. I found myself wondering if I plugged the Samsung wireless charger into a 2.1 amp-12 volt power source, would the wireless charger work properly or not.

I experimented and found that the wireless charger works perfectly well with a 2.1 amp 12-volt power source. The next steps were easy. I used a quantity of the rubber grip mat stuff to make the forward slanted phone area flat, and plugged in the Samsung wireless charger. Since the 12-volt socket only has power when the car’s ignition is turned on, I can simply leave the 12-volt charger plugged in all the time just as if it were in my house connected to an AC power source without fear of it running down the car’s battery.

When I get in the car, I simply lay the phone on the Samsung wireless charger and as soon as the ignition comes on while I’m driving the phone is charging without me having to futz around with plugging wires in. Also, the phone connects to the car’s audio system via stereo Bluetooth, making for a 100% seamless experience.

My conclusion is that wireless charging is most useful in an automotive environment, provided that there’s a flat, convenient area for the wireless charger to rest and the power socket is tied to the car’s ignition.


Thinkware F800 Dash Cam Wins CES Innovation Award



Dash cams are a big growth market at present and there’s plenty of innovation in the space from both established automotive brands to new tech startups. The team at Thinkware have innovated with the new F800 Air connected dash cam, borrowing ideas from the Internet of Things to make a “smart” dash cam.

To start with, the F800 Air can text emergency contacts when it detects a crash or collision, much like some of the manufacturer units. Obviously the F800 can be installed in any vehicle, not just a new one. Next, the dash cam constantly monitors the vehicle while parked and notifies the owner via text if there’s any untoward movement such as a door being dinged. Finally, upcoming F800 features will support geo-fencing and driver assessment, which is perfect for the parent who wants to loan their vehicle out to son or daughter and check that they’re driving safely.

Thinkware stated, “With the innovative ‘connected car’ technologies, the dash cam will take on an important role in providing both driver convenience and safety and the continued evolution of the capabilities of the dash cam seem boundless with IoT.

The F800 Air looks much more stylish too with the camera housed in an aluminium pod to one side. All this tech and good design means that it is a worthy winner of a CES 2017 Innovation Award in the car audio/video category. The dash cam is in the final stages of development and is expected to be available in 2017, but no price has been confirmed.

If you are at CES this year, the Thinkware F800 is at Sands Expo, LV.2 Booth 42572. Check it out.


Choetech 33W USB-C Car Charger Review



Choetech LogoGenerally USB car chargers fall into the dull but essential class of gadgets and with today’s power-hungry smartphones, they’re more essential than ever.  The market’s in a state of transition too, with new USB-C and various fast charging technologies vying for supremacy. On review here is Choetech’s 33W USB-C Car Charger (TC0002), which is a little misleading as the charger not only has USB-C, there’s a USB-A port too which supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0. Let’s take a look.

Choetech Car Charger Box

The packaging is minimal with the TC0002 held in a plain cardboard box with the branding on a card slip cover. Inside the box there are only three things; the charger, some instructions and a help sheet. The charger is much as you’d expect with a short barrel for the 12V power socket which them morphs gently into a slightly rectangular face with the two USB ports. The design is pleasing and there’s a small blue LED located between the ports which lights up to show that there’s power. When inserted into the power socket, the charger protrudes by about two  centimetre, perhaps a little less – see the picture below of the charger installed in my car (yes, my car’s a little dusty).

Choetech Car Charger Install

The USB-C socket will supply 5V at 3A, and the USB-A sockets supports the Quick Charge voltages of 5V, 9V and 12V with output currents of (up to) 2.4A, 2.0A and 1.5A respectively. Obviously you need a QC supporting smartphone or tablet to take advantage of the higher charging rates and everything else will use their standard 5V rating.

Choetech Car Charger

I plugged in a range of different devices from a OnePlus 2 to Samsung S6 (which is only QC2) and Nexus tablets. All charged at what I would characterise as their fastest rate and it didn’t seem to matter to the charging whether there was one device or two plugged in.

In summary, the Choetech 33W car charger is the ideal car charger for those who need both USB-A and USB-C charging. The neat and unobtrusive design will fit neatly in most cars, I imagine, and the blue light is handy for locating the sockets in the dark. Currently on Amazon.co.uk for GB£10.99, it’s competitively priced too.

There’s an unboxing video below, but annoyingly there’s a pulsing background noise. Sorry.

Thanks to Choetech for supplying the charger for review.


Ferrari Arrives On Instagram



Ferrari LogoWhen it comes to objects of desire, a Ferrari is close to the top of many a wish list. The gorgeous shapes, the fabulous sound and rich racing history are all part of the aura surrounding the Italian company and the famous prancing horse. It’s perhaps a little surprising then that it’s taken this long for Ferrari to join Instagram and show off the red supercars in all their glory.

Social media isn’t new to Ferrari, with active accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram is the obvious platform for pictures and now, sound. As well as the visual treats, Ferrari have recorded aural delights to get more senses involved. It’s all very current too with the first set of photos fresh from last weekend’s Mille Miglia.

Lined up. #Ferrari #RossoFerrari #MilleMiglia

A photo posted by Ferrari (@ferrari) on

Follow @Ferrari to keep those dreams alive!


iOttie Qi Smartphone Wireless Charging Solutions at 2016 CES



iOttie Daniele Mendez interviews Andrew Moughalian about iOttie wireless charging and automotive mounting solutions. The iOttie iON Wireless Qi Charging Receiver Case Charger Cover is a sleek case for the iPhone 6s/6 that adds Qi wireless charging. It is available now and sells for $49.

iOttie also sells the iOttie Easy One Touch Wireless Qi Standard Car Mount Charger that will work with a variety of Qi wireless charging-enabled smartphones. It offers an Easy One Touch lock and release mounting system that locks the device into the holder with just the push of a finger. It sells for $69.95 and is also available now.

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Alpine X110-SLV 10″ Radio Upgrade



Alpine X110-slvIf you are the owner of a Chevrolet Silverado, then the Alpine X110-SLV 10″ Radio Upgrade is for you, though calling this a radio upgrade is hardly doing it justice. This is a full restyle of the central part of the dash. Todd and Daniel find out more from Javier Vergara of Alpine Electronics.

The X110-SLV is a complete replacement for the manufacturer display and audio head unit. Coming in three parts, the X110-SLV fits neatly into the space, replacing the small display with a large 10″ touchscreen and a DVD player. Manufacturer functions like OnStar, rear view camera and parking sensors are retained and integrated into the X110-SLV so there’s no loss of features with the upgrade. Navigation is provided through Here maps, which takes full advantage of the larger screen.

If you want to upgrade your Silverado, prices go from $1200 to $4,000.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.
Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Cobra Dash Cams and Detectors at CES



Cobra LogoCobra Electronics are well-known for their radar detectors and other automotive products. Here at CES, Cobra won the TWICE Picks Award for one of its flagship units, the CDR 855 BT Drive HD dash cam, so Todd Aune finds out more about the latest devices from Mark Karnes, VP of Marketing at Cobra.

On the table are two relatively new devices from Cobra, the CDR 855BT dash cam and the world’s smallest DSP radar detector, the DSP 9200 BT. Starting with the dash cam, it’s a connected device, pairing via Bluetooth with a smartphone to acquire GPS co-ordinates which are then sync’d with the video footage. On top of this, the dash cam can work with Cobra’s iRadar app on the smartphone to know the location of cameras and provide alerts to the driver. The app is shared with the radar detector, so as the detector finds cameras, these can be reported back to the app and then up to the cloud to keep the camera database up-to-date for everyone through the iRadar Community. That’s pretty neat.

Not to be outdone, the radar detector was a CTA Honoree Award for an Intelligent Vehicle Device. The trick in this radar detector is to use digital signal processing to tell the difference between signals from the new collision avoidance systems and law enforcement speed guns. A range of radar and laser signals are presented to the driver as detected, with both visual and audio warnings, and the unit also benefits from alerts provided from the iRadar app on a connected smartphone.

Both devices are on sale now for US$349 for the radar detection and US$149 for the dash cam.

Todd Aune bridges the technology gap with the The Elder Divide.

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Pioneer Brings CarPlay and Android Auto to the After-Market



Pioneer logoPioneer is a brand for well-known for its in-car audio and entertainment systems so it comes as no surprise that the company is bringing a range of after-market units with Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. Todd and Marlo get a demo of the latest product with Ted Cardenas from Pioneer.

On show here is the freshly-announced Pioneer AVH-4200-NEX, which is one of three products which incorporate both CarPlay and Android Auto. As a result, the display and user interface will take on the persona of the connected device. The in-dash receiver connects to the smartphone using a wired connection as the phones contribute heavily to the running of apps. Plugging in the phones avoids issues with data speeds and keeps the battery charged, though Bluetooth is used in Android Auto for calls.

Voice is heavily used by both the driver to control the NEX and for the system to respond. Voice can be used to compose and listen to text messages, to navigate and to talk to Siri or Google Now. This keeps the need to look at the screen to a minimum and enhances safety.

If your current vehicle’s in-car entertainment system doesn’t support CarPlay or Android Auto, the Pioneer NEX range offers a great way to upgrade to the latest auto technology. Priced at around $700, the AVH-4200-NEX will be available in March.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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Ford SYNC 3 Drives Choice at CES



Ford LogoThe third iteration of Ford’s SYNC in-car communication and entertainment system, SYNC 3, came into the dealer showrooms during 2015 in the latest “2016” vehicles. At CES, further updates were announced with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration available as a user OTA upgrade. Todd and Marlo go for a ride with Kenneth Williams from Ford.

The new SYNC 3 gives choice to consumers, supporting both iOS and Android. SYNC 3 automatically chooses what to launch based on the connected device, so if the phone is an iPhone, then it’s CarPlay, if it’s a Nexus, then Android Auto. The AppLink technology works with over 90 app providers to launch apps from the attached smartphone but display on the SYNC console. Consequently the owner gets the experience that they’re used to on their phone or tablet.

The AppLink protocol is being opened up and made available to other car manufacturers and Toyota is already on board. It’s an interesting move and could be a major benefit to consumers as it creates a standard in the market that app developers can work to.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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Magellan Leads With Four New MiVue DashCams for CES



Magellan LogoFor those who want to record their travels for pleasure or have to keep their insurance premiums down out of necessity, GPS pioneers Magellan have announced four new affordable MiVue DashCams for the upcoming CES 2016. To be clear, these aren’t navigation devices, but instead record video of journeys, accidents and other unexpected events. The new MiVue 320, MiVue 420, MiVue 430 and MiVue 450D are all designed to be unobtrusively located on the dash, while having a comprehensive base set of features, including

  • Magellan 420 DashCamMiVue Manager – Intuitive interface to browse recorded videos. Video recorded from the Impact Sensor can be reviewed for post-accident analysis. Video may be shared on social media sites like YouTube and Facebook
  • Parking Mode – In situations where there’s an impact while the car is parked, the DashCam wakes up to record the event. You can even choose to have the device always recording with vehicles that have constant power supplies.
  • Impact Sensor – Records impact forces, which show the direction and magnitude of a collision.
  • Night View Enhancement – Automatic day or night light adjustment assuring the best picture quality regardless of lighting conditions.
  • Impact Event Recording – When the 3-axis sensor detects sudden changes in motion, the device instantly saves protected files to prevent them from being overwritten.
  • Camera Mode – Switch to Camera Mode to collect photo evidence or create lasting memories. With the built-in battery, the device can be taken out of the car to get close-up photos.
  • Rotating Mount Design – Mount easily pivots to any desired angle assuring you never miss an important moment.
  • GPS Tracking – The built-in, high-sensitivity GPS receiver automatically records your driving information on the video, so you have both a location and time stamp during playback.
  • Wide Angle Lens – The 140° wide-angle lens provides an enhanced peripheral view to record the entire street.

The top-end 450D comes with dual cameras to record a wide 240° view or both inside and outside of the vehicle, and has WiFi connectivity. The 420 and 430 DashCams provide additional safety with Lane Departure warnings and Front Collision Avoidance alerts.

Magellan is excited to expand its award-winning line of MiVue DashCam models. Our four new models are designed with superior image quality, large storage capacity and extended battery life,” commented Stig Pedersen, Magellan Associate Vice President of Product Management.

The new Magellan MiVue DashCams will be available from Q2 2016 at retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as online at www.magellangps.com in with prices expected to start at $109.99.

If you want to know more, the DashCams will be on show at CES 2016 in the Magellan Booth, LVCC South Hall MP25441.