Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Tag: car

ViperSmart car security and a lot more

Posted by Alan at 6:36 AM on February 24, 2013

viper logoViperSmart stopped by TPN recently to discuss SmartStart, which can start, lock, unlock and monitor your car from anywhere. Those controls can all be handled from a smartphone app — either Android, iPhone or Blackberry. In fact the company president demonstrated that he could unlock his car, located in California while sitting in Las Vegas.

The app also receives trouble codes from the engine and alerts you to these, essentially monitoring your vehicles health, including if your battery is running low. It will alert you if your doors are unlocked or if your trunk is open, locate your car and monitor the speed of travel (in case your teen borrows it).

The plan is on a per-car basis, not a per driver and it runs about $3 per month, though the charge is actually annual. Some features are separate and can add a bit to the price. The app itself is free. Users will need to install the system in their car and the entry level version is $299.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net and Daniel J Lewis of  Audacity to Podcast

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Ford C-MAX Hybrid Review – First Drive Impressions

Posted by Mike Dell at 3:29 PM on August 27, 2012


I had the chance to drive the New 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid in sunny Los Angeles along with Jeffery Powers from Geekazine.

My first impression of the car is that is a very nice looking vehicle. It defiantly has a Ford family resemblance. From the Grill and headlights on back, you can tell it’s a new Ford. The C-MAX is a name plate that has been used by Ford since 2003 in Europe and late this year, they are bringing it to the US. Totally redesigned for 2013, the C-MAX is built on the global chassis that the Ford Focus is based on, and will be built in Wayne Michigan for the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid (Energi) versions.

Our drive started off in West Hollywood California towards the coast and up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. We drove in a good mix of Highway, City, and Mountains. In the 100 or so miles we put on the car, it averaged 38MPG according to the on-board readout. The EPA Estimates that the C-MAX Hybrid will get 47mpg highway and 47mpg city if driven conservatively.

The C-MAX has 50 more horsepower than the Prius V, which is a similar sized vehicle, and gets 7 more MPG. I did get a chance to drive the Prius V as a comparison and in the Mountains, the C-MAX definitely didn’t seem to be working as hard to climb the hills. I could really feel that extra 50hp!

The C-MAX Hybrid will be hitting the Ford showrooms sometime later this year at a price of around $25k.

If I were in the market for a small car (Hybrid or not) the C-MAX would be high on my list.

For more information about the C-MAX check out http://www.ford.com/cars/cmax/

Worst Car Ever

Posted by Andrew at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2012

Car hire is always a bit of a lottery. You never know exactly what make or model of vehicle awaits you, only that it will be “mid-size” or “economy”. Usually the car is from a major manufacturer but recently I had the dubious pleasure of renting a car that I had never seen before and frankly, never wish to see again.

Tata Indigo SW FrontThe car in question was a Tata Indigo. Tata is an Indian conglomerate and the Indigo seems to have been developed primarily for sale in India, but is also being sold in Europe. I’m sure it meets all the relevant legislation but it’s an awful car that pales in comparison to any other US, British, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese or Korean car I have ever driven.

How do I describe how bad it was? It was just everything….the interior trim was a sea of poorly finished grey plastic with matching grey cloth seats. The sunglasses holder didn’t stay closed. The driver’s electric window didn’t close properly. The central locking was unreliable.

The boot catch was so insubstantial that I feel it would have opened with a good pull. The boot lid itself was such thin steel that I could easily pull the corner of the lid away from the body of the car. To be fair, the boot was a good size, getting three 20 kg suitcases in there without too much trouble.

Tata Indigo SW RearThe engine was uninspiring, an underpowered 1.2 litre engine, and overtaking on anything other than half a mile of clear road would be a mistake. The tyres (on steel wheels) were narrow in comparison to most modern cars and I’m sure would have made road-holding on a wet and twisty road somewhat challenging. Fortunately, it never rained and the roads weren’t that twisty.

The steering was adequate: the car would go round corners as directed but the power steering didn’t give much feedback to the driver. On the plus side, the brakes seemed to work fine, though I never had to really stamp on them. I was always too scared about having an accident to go very fast.

Apparently a top of the range model costs around 600,000 Indian rupees, which converts to US $10,000. Still too expensive.

Overall, it was simply a terrible car and the luggage space was the only redeeming feature. Top tip to car rental companies – don’t expect your customers to be repeat customers if you have the Tata Indigo in your fleet.

Photos courtesy of Michge.

Audi-Branded IDAPT Charger

Posted by Andrew at 12:22 AM on July 11, 2012

Both Todd and I are fans of IDAPT products; our reviews of the i4 and the i1 Eco are elsewhere on GNC. They’re great products that reduce the number of chargers, cables and general clutter lying around the house.

IDAPT has also shied away from only offering their products in black and white, with the i4 available in a raft of finishes, from solid colours through to funky patterns. Admittedly, they cost a bit extra over the black and white versions but at least they’re an option.

Taking this further, I recently noticed that IDAPT has created a few promotional versions in conjunction with Audi. I snapped this one up from ebay last week. Apart from the graphic, it’s a standard i4 universal charger, with three charging points on the top and a USB socket on the side. There’s a second version featuring a rev counter but I’ve not seen one of those at an affordable price.

IDAPT Audi

I subsequently found the Audi Merchandise Shop but the chargers don’t seem to feature there at the moment.

Perhaps IDAPT could offer a version that you could customise yourself, maybe with pictures of your family or similar. For a device that is often on display in a hall or study, it would be a nice touch.

 

The New and Improved Ford MyTouch

Posted by Alan at 8:49 AM on February 14, 2012

Ford began by integrating the Microsoft Sync system into their cars, but more recently they have added Ford MyTouch.  Now they are working to improve the experience on the touch-panel and they unveiled this recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  They did this be cleaning up the interface, while not making any major changes to it.

The new, simpler interface is more of an upgrade than a real change.  For instance, the entertainment screen is simpler, faster, and more intuitive.  The fonts themselves are easier to read because of the larger, and bolder text that is displayed.  The maps, too, are improved with a better look and a 3D-type view that seems more realistic.

In fact, all four corners of the traditional Ford MyTouch square have been improved, but the changes are subtle.  The voice recognition and the backend (behind-the-scenes) have been improved for better responsiveness.  You can get all of the details, plus a live demo, in the video below.  You can check it out in person at a Ford dealer as well

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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iOnRoad Warns Drivers of Danger

Posted by Andrew at 1:00 AM on February 6, 2012

As well as being a really bad pun, iOnRoad is an augmented reality app that helps car drivers become safer drivers. Courtney gets into the fast lane to find out more about this app which was awarded a CES Innovation Honoree prize.

Available for Android smartphones now and the iPhone soon, the app uses the smartphone’s camera, GPS and accelerometer to provide warnings and guidance to car drivers as they drive. By looking at the white lines, the car in front and correlating data from the GPS and accelerometer, the app can warn about lane departures, tailgating and speeding. The iOnRoad includes a couple of other features, including reading text messages and a car locator.

Obviously the phone has to be mounted on the dash with a view to the front of the car, but you can test the app using the video here. The app is currently free with a charge of $9.99 to be introduced in the future.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDR News.

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Built To Tylt Designs for Smartphones

Posted by Andrew at 9:07 AM on February 1, 2012

Built to Tylt logoAt CES‘s Digital Experience, Andy talks with Built To Tylt about their funky designs for smartphones and other portable gadgets. Check their website as these guys have got some great stuff.

The Tylt Band is a smartphone car charger made of a colourful flat silicon rubber cable that is nearly impossible tangle. Micro-USB and Apple connectors are available there’s an extra standard USB socket near the base of the cable for plugging in another device.

Tylt also have two portable battery packs, the Zumo and the PowerPlant, with 1500 mAh and 5,200 mAh batteries respectively. The Zumo is intended for the emergency smartphone charging, whereas the larger PowerPlant can part charge a tablet or recharge a smartphone several times.

Finally, if you are an iPhone owner, you might be interested in Tylt’s new iPhone cases, one of which comes with a lens cover to protect the camera and another that has a built-in kickstand (kickband?) to angle the iPhone for movie watching.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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inCarBite iPad and Kindle Fire Car Mount

Posted by Andrew at 9:04 AM on February 1, 2012

inCarBite iPad car mountThese days, in-car DVD players are old hat – a tablet is where it’s at. Andy talks to Linda at inCarBite on how their car mount can keep up with the Joneses.

The inCarBite tablet mounting system is available for the Apple iPad 1 & 2 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which is gaining in popularity as an entertainment device. The tablet mount fixes onto the headrest stems of the front seats using a neat clamp, which is detachable from the mount itself to make fitting easier. Power is provided from the car’s cigarette lighter socket so the tablet is charged while it’s in the mount.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a matching home dock with surround sound which takes the same mount so the device can be easily switched between the living room, kitchen and car.

It’s available now for the iPad from $79.99 to $159.99 depending on accessories. The Kindle Fire version is coming soon.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Ford and Gogo Add to Inflight Entertainment

Posted by Andrew at 12:33 AM on October 26, 2011

Ford logoTravelling by air can be pretty dull – you’re jammed into a metal tube with nowhere to go even if you could get out of your seat. Inflight entertainment has evolved from one or two screens for the whole cabin to multichannel personal media players in seat headrests, which certainly helps to alleviate the boredom. More recently and largely responding to the requests of business travellers, more and more flights now have Wi-Fi, bringing the Internet to your foldaway table, albeit usually at a price.

Gogo LogoIf you are lucky enough to be on a plane equipped with Gogo‘s inflight Wi-Fi connectivity, Ford has teamed up with Gogo to offer access to Ford’s Mustang Customizer and free access to Facebook for the rest of the flight. The Customizer is a notch above the usual car modelling websites where you can only change the colour of the paint and the interior trim. Starting out with Mustang V6, GT, Boss 302 or Shelby GT500, the Customizer lets you choose the exterior before tweaking under the hood and then placing the car in one of three backgrounds – dragway, cityscape or drive-in restaurant. Apparently there are over 78,791,049,216,000 combinations of vehicle to dream up.

Once you’ve got the car of your dreams, the picture can be downloaded as a background or posted to Facebook and entered into contests to see who has the best car. If you’ve cash to match, you can get a .pdf pricing out the components you’ve chosen.

We are really excited to give Gogo users a chance to customize their very own Mustang while in flight,” added Brian McClary, emerging and social media specialist at Ford. “The Mustang Customizer has proven to be a great way for users to create their own Mustang and provides an interactive and immersive experience.

Definitely of interest to bored petrol heads, small boys and Facebook junkies. The special promotion starts 21 October, 2011 and ends 18 November, 2011

Ford Shows Off V2V Car Tech

Posted by Alan at 7:00 PM on June 23, 2011

Today, through both Cnet and Engadget, we got a look ahead at Ford’s vision of the future of the automobile.  The “V2V” monicker refers to “vehicle to vehicle” and it’s a new way for cars to communicate with each other while driving down the road.

A video, produced by Ford, has surfaced that gives a nice walk-through of the technology involved.  As you can probably guess, before the rep explains it, it is really just basic cell phone technology being used here.  The cars can let other vehicles in the area know of slowing or stopping traffic, lane changes, stop sign and red-light runners and a host of other things.

The video is demonstrated with both animation and real, live footage in the video below.  You will also get a brief, but passable, explanation from some of Ford’s representatives about what it is capable of and how it works.

Like much of car-automation technology, a lot of this is probably years in the future.  But, we are starting to see a lot more similar technology creeping into today’s showroom models.  Enough to say I am hopeful that this is closer than we may think.