Vendors at CES 2007 will roll out electronics to spice up your wheels, including the next generation in iPod FM adapters, in-car high-definition streaming video, and technology to turn your rental car into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
You're familiar with FM radio adapters for the iPod, right? You plug it into your iPod and it broadcasts a weak FM radio signal over unused bands, which your car radio can pick up and play your tunes over your car's speakers. The ones on the market today broadcast on up to a half-dozen pre-set FM radio stations. They work great out in the country, but if you're driving around in a major metropolitan area, where the bandwidth is packed tight, it's hard to find an empty station to tune your adapter to.
The Monster iCarPLay Wireless 200 automatically scans the FM band to find the clearest station to work with your iPod. It displays station information on the iPod screen, and charges your iPod too. The $100 price is a little steep compared with other FM adapters. But we're sure you'll get a lot of use out of it. So go on, blow the dust off your wallet and spring for it, big spender.
DaimlerChrysler Research will debut a Mercedes-Benz R500 SUV with on-board technology that beams high-definition video from a handheld mobile device to factory-installed headrest monitors for middle- and third-row passengers. The SUV uses Intel/Alereon Ultrawideband (UWB) USB technology.
The New York Times expects Avis and a startup called Autonet Mobile to announce a Wi-Fi hotspot for cars. Starting in March, Avis will equip rental cars with a laptop-computer-sized device that allows users and passengers to get Wi-Fi connections from the car, priced at $10.95 per day. TechDirt correctly notes that the device will become really interesting if you can take it out of the car -- it then becomes a respectable alternative to high-priced cellular modems and in-room hotel Internet connections.
Dash Navigation and Yahoo are partnering up to add local search to GPS devices. The DASH GPS units are expected to be priced at $600-$800, with monthly fees of $10-$14. (Add that one to the roster of services in what looks to be an emerging trend for 2007: local search.)
And Visteon plans to introduce a device for charging mobile electronics in the car. We told you about that here.