Even before they became a division of Government Motors, Scotty has never been a big fan of GM cars — sorry about that folks, but in recent years I considered one just because of the OnStar system. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock OnStar provides:
- GPS and directions (ho-hum, so does my cell phone);
- Bluetooth voice activated connectivity with your cell phone (nice but you can get a Bluetooth speaker for your car more cheaply);
- GPS tracking if your car is stolen;
- a call center that can do everything that a human can do that a computer can’t; and
- automatic crash response — if they unit senses a crash and you don’t respond, they send out emergency support.
And now it’s available for non-GM cars as an add on! It is called OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle), and is available at Best Buy and other electronics stores. It comes in the form of a rear view mirror which replaces your car’s existing one.
That’s the good news. This is a perfect gift for any family member who spends time on the road. It will give them an extra added measure of safety and you greater comfort when they are on the road.
The bad news? Well, installation is a challenge. The unit can’t be installed on all cars, and even if a car is listed as compatible, installation might not be possible. Installation also can run more money than the unit itself and sometimes more than was quoted.
And I assume y’all figured out there’s also a monthly service charge for the call center. It’ll run you around $20-$30 depending the features you want.
This is not a product to buy on the cheap from www.crappyelectronics.com. Buy it from the place that will install it so if it is not possible to install you can return it. Best Buy has a handy “check if we can install OnStar in your car” widget here. But as I said, even that’s only a preliminary determination. An installer will have to see your car, and maybe even work on it to know if it will install properly.
If Mrs. S or I drove around a lot I would buy her one in a flash, but we’re homebodies ever since I retired from Star Fleet. But at $275 including “basic” installation, the OnStar FMV gives a heck of a lot of peace of mind.
I know that many of you work from home when you can. And y’all know, my job takes me all over the
country galaxy. Being able to work from home or while traveling is becoming more and more important. So I thought I’d tell the PJ Media gang about some of my favorite gadgets, seeing as it’s getting close to Christmas.
While my DroidX2 has a pretty darned good speaker built in… it’s pretty good only compared with getting a ticket for holding the phone up to my ear because I forgot my Bluetooth at home. And since I often end up holding conference calls in the darnedest places, like hotel rooms, I was tired of sounding like some yahoo. So years ago I bought myself a small Bluetooth speaker. While a lot of people use them in their cars to listen to music as well as talk on the phone, it’s also a dynamite gadget to make conference calls so much clearer. While my unit is no longer made, I’ve found y’all two other options that I’m sure your telecommuters will love.
My first choice is portable and can be used in your car, home office, hotel room or where ever you want. The Jabra Cruiser2 is advertised for the car, but I’m telling you, the difference in quality between using this kind of speaker versus the speaker in your cell phone will make you sound like you’re in a big office with one of those fancy 16″ speaker phone deals. And at 61 bucks, it’s a good investment in convenience and professionalism.
This next one is not portable, but if you have occasion to have others come into your home office and you want to do a conference call without banging heads huddled over your iPhone or Droid – this is your baby.
The Soundfreaq SFQ-01R Sound Platform Bluetooth Audio System is a complete audio system with FM radio and has that bluetooth speaker capability. This is a really attractive piece of electronics and comes in 3 colors: red, black and white. It’s small, only 11.8 x 6 x 5.9 inches, but has pretty darned good sound quality. No, it’s not going to compete with a full size Bose speaker system. But it’s smaller than a bread box.
And it will provide you with music in your home office, as well as the capability of having professional “real office” sounding conference calls. I mean wouldn’t it be great to be able to just switch between listening to your tunes and picking up a phone call without having to take your hands of your computer keyboard?