More Car Tunes
by Pat Goss
Pat Goss: There are some amazing things that you can retrofit into your automobile that deal with modern electronics. And to explain that, we have Peter Logan from Crutchfield. Now, Peter, you have a Clarion Auto PC. What in the world is an Auto PC?
Peter Logan: The Clarion Auto PC is basically a computer in the form of a radio. It sits in your dash and it integrates things like information, entertainment, communication, and also navigation as well.
Pat: Okay. Now, how does this work?
Peter: It’s all voice-activated, so you just say “Auto PC,” and you tell it if you want to listen to the radio or if you want directions or if you want some information from the address book.
Pat: Okay. Now, you had mentioned there was something about interfacing with the vehicle’s onboard computer?
Peter: Absolutely. For most vehicles, it can interface with the ODP2 port on newer vehicles, and it can give you things like miles traveled, the estimated speed that you traveled, and it also can interface with vehicle diagnostic information.
Pat: Oh, so you can collect data, if you have a driver or something like that.
Pat: Okay. Next, right here, what do we have?
Peter: This is the Kenwood Z919. It’s an in-dash CD player, and in addition to playing regular CDS, it will also play CDRs and CDRWs encoded with MP3 files, which is really hot right now. You can store up to about 10 hours of MP3s on a single CD.
Pat: Hmm, that’s impressive. Okay, what do we have here?
Peter: This is Video Traveler by SteelHorse. In-car video is hot right now, and this is one of the easiest ways to integrate video into your car. You just hang it from the headrest in between the car seats, plug it into the cigarette lighter, and you’ve got an LCD monitor and a VCR in there, as well.
Pat: And you can take it out for security.
Peter: Absolutely. Put it in the garage when you’re done.
Pat: All right. Keep it in your garage. All right now, in a Expedition, you’ve done some pretty interesting things.
Peter: Right, what we’ve done in the center of the vehicle is we’ve removed the factory housing that holds the cupholders and we’ve replaced it with a Clarion Video OEM housing. This allows you to integrate a video monitor and also the original air conditioning controls and audio controls as well.
Pat: And in the dash?
Peter: In the dash, we’ve also changed it out with a Kenwood P907. It’s an in-dash CD player that’s all touch-screen activated, and it also has a flip-out monitor that you can also watch in-car video if the parking brake is engaged.
Pat: So you can’t watch it going down the road, and that takes care of various laws.
Peter: Absolutely. Each state has their own individual laws pertaining to video in the front of the car.
Pat: Okay. Pricewise, how does all this fall in line?
Peter: Well, for in-car video, you’re looking anywhere from about $900 for a portable system like this anywhere up to about $3,000.
Pat: And, most people could do this themselves?
Pat: With one of your master sheets?
Peter: With most installations, we’ll include a custom master sheet. It tells you all the tools that you’re going to need for the installation, and it also gives you three-dimensional cutaways of taking the components out and putting them back in.
Pat: Hmm, pictures.
Pat: Even I can read those!
Pat: Okay, well there you have it. You can definitely do wonders with the electronics in your car, and you can do it yourself.