Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The best tech accessories/ gadgets for your car

By Tim Jarvis for our content partner: Style + Tech For Men

Today’s cars come packed with technology that can do anything from analyzing your braking system to adjusting the cabin temperature. But even the most modern cars-about-town can stand a little personalization. STM shopped around for the latest must-have car accessories to make your driving experience truly auto-erotic … in a PG kinda way.

Fingerprint Immobilizer

Did your brother borrow your car for a road-trip reunion with his college roommates? Or did your girlfriend steal your sedan for an all-day salon treatment? It’s time to put your ride into lockdown with the Fingerprint Car Security System, manufactured by Poly-Supreme Technology Co. Ltd. This ain’t your father’s average immobilizer/car alarm. It comes with an advanced anti-carjacking feature, voice-input control and a fingerprint-recognition system that ensures only authorized drivers can crank the engine. It’s easy to add or delete drivers’ prints from the database, so if your brother ponies up enough scratch to make the ride worth your while, simply add his mitts to the list.

Price: $689.00

Multimedia Car Receiver

A car radio that is equipped with Internet apps AND actually listens to you has just pulled into the parking lot. The voice-activated Parrot Asteroid Car Receiver pumps out music that’s sourced from your iPhone, iPod, USB drive or SD card … and it makes phone calls for you. It automatically synchronizes your mobile phonebook and directly dials using those numbers or voice activation. We can’t even get our mom to do all that stuff when she’s in our car.
Price: Will be available in the U.S. later this year.

Instant Engine Self-diagnosis

Is your car mechanic as credible as a Lindsay Lohan deposition? If you really want to know how sick your ride is, it’s time for you to pick up the CarMD. The TV-remote-sized gizmo downloads data directly from your auto’s on-board computers. And when it’s done, you simply connect it to your PC and the included software generates an easy-to-read report that lets you know exactly what’s going on with your wheels and generates an estimated a repair bill.


Talk to Your Apps

Can’t stop working when you’re travelling? This voice-interactive text messaging system allows you receive, send and browse text messages while you drive, without reaching for your phone. It reads written messages and appointments aloud, translates your spoken messages into text and even lets you chat to your Facebook account and update your status while you’re on the road. “Single … and looking!”

Price: $149.00 for in-car device; $9.99 per month. Currently works with BlackBerry phones. Android will be available later this year.

Remote Car Locator/Starter

It’s a cold day, and you’re wandering through a mall parking lot the size of the Pacific Ocean with no clue where you left the car. You’re an idiot -- but now there’s hope for the clueless. You can hunt down your ride, and even warm it up before you reach it, by starting the engine from almost anywhere with the Viper SmartStart. The device is incorporated into your car’s security system and is powered by an app on your smartphone that will even pop the trunk to let out your little brother when you think he’s finally learned his lesson. If he tries to get out on his own, it can send you an alert that security -- and the trunk -- has been breached. Stupid kid!

Price: Complete systems are $399.00; $49.99 per year. You can add SmartStart to existing Viper systems for $299.00. Compatible with iPhone, BlackBerry and Android platforms.

Tim Jarvis Tim Jarvis is a freelance health, technology and entertainment writer who contributes to O, The Oprah Magazine and the men’s grooming and lifestyle site Men’s Life Today. He is also currently working on a book about the mysteries of quantum mechanics.

A look at the best E- Readers

By Simon Munk for our content partner: Style + Tech For Men
The Great E-reader Roundup
Books have taken a backseat to e-readers in the digital era. But with a bewildering range of gadgets -- from the Apple iPad to the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook -- how do you know which one offers the best story for consumers? Our head-to-head e-book bash-up will give you a great read on the situation.

Apple iPad
from $499 | Apple.com

If you're looking for something more than just an e-reader, then read no further. Wait, we have more to tell you! It fares brilliantly on its reading assignments … if you don't mind a little screen-glare. Any LED screen is going to fare badly compared to e-ink on that score. But the iPad is capable of so much more than its e-reader rivals. First, it’s agnostic to any bookstore. It takes in apps from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and its own iBooks resource. Second, along with being able to surf the Web, it serves up games, comics and thousands of apps. Third, in terms of raw power and storage, it's got more on those scores than any competitor. The price is another weak point, but since it’s the most fully-featured e-reader, it's still tough to beat.

Verdict: Best all-around tablet that beats most e-readers.

Amazon Kindle
from $139 | Amazon.com

Absolutely the best e-reader on the bookshelf -- that is, if you're not looking for any bells and whistles. The Kindle boasts an exceptional 6-inch e-ink screen, as well as a reduced size and weight that bring it close to a digital paperback in portability. According to Amazon, its storage capacity has also doubled to 3,500 books. Plus, the Kindle now comes in Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi and 3G flavors -- so you can instantly buy, download and read books just about anywhere. There's also a new experimental Web browser, but the Kindle is really best for e-reading. Its page interface is easier and more pleasurable to read than any competitor’s, and the access to the Amazon store makes your reading list almost endless.
Verdict: Just looking to read? Look no further.


$249 | BarnesAndNoble.com

The first mainstream color e-reader makes your mandatory reading list just in time for the holidays. Barnes & Noble's NOOKcolor features Wi-Fi, an eight-hour reading battery and a 7-inch color screen that can display not just books, but also magazines, the Web and videos. It'll even display some Android apps. It’s more than a standard e-reader, but also a bit less than a fully-featured tablet computer. Screen-wise, it suffers the same problems as the iPad: glare and a lack of smoothness in its text display. On top of that, it struggles to reconfigure larger magazines and newspaper pages (as well as many websites that haven’t formatted for mobile viewing) to its smaller, more pocket-friendly screen. Ultimately, the NOOKcolor is good for reading books and some other things -- but until B&N sorts out a proper app store to support it, it's not as much of a multimedia marvel as some of its competitors.

Verdict: Halfway between e-reader and tablet, but not quite either.

Blackberry PlayBook$TBA | Us.Blackberry.com

Due out this spring, the PlayBook will be BlackBerry's effort to produce fresher fruit than the iPad. It's more powerful than the iPad on paper -- with a 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB memory and full Web support for Flash and HTML5. But it's got a smaller, 7-inch screen and entirely new operating system software … so no existing BlackBerry apps will run on it. Even more troubling, Blackberry doesn't have a great reputation for multimedia and user-friendly features, so it's a bit of a leap for them to move from hardcore email and smartphones to mainstream consumer tablets. How good is it as an e-reader? We'll have wait and see.
Verdict: The dark horse in the e-reader race, the PlayBook will have to amaze in order to gain top tablet honors.


Photo Credits: iPad, Kindle, NOOKColor, Blackberry PlayBook - Getty Images

iPad Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

Simon Munk Simon Munk is an award-winning journalist that specializes in consumer technology, video games and outdoor-product coverage for men. He's written for Stuff and Blender magazines and was launch editor in chief of Stuff Gamer.