Our heads are still spinning a bit from the onslaught that was the in-car electronics hall of CES 2009. From every direction, there were speakers the size of extralarge pizzas and flashy video displays vying for your attention. Amidst the cacophony, our (ahem) skilled Car Tech editors were able to spot a few gems and a few diamonds in the rough.
As evidenced by our Car Tech category Best of CES finalists, we predict that the next big thing in in-car entertainment is connectivity. Our winner, Gracenote CarStars, puts a star's avatar in your reasonably priced car by pairing a music concierge service with a subscription-based music service and beaming it all into your dashboard.
Our runners-up, AT&T CruiseCast and Ford/Microsoft Sync 3.0, also use their own forms of connectivity to the vehicle cabin experience. CruiseCast, which we got a peak at during SEMA 2008, captures 25 channels of satellite television using only a roof-mounted receptor about the size of a large mixing bowl. Sync 3.0 utilizes the ubiquitous Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone to deliver turn-by-turn directions with Internet-based traffic, weather, and point-of-interest searching.
While we were there, we also took note of Blaupunkt and MiRoamer's Internet radio streaming service, which also makes use of a Bluetooth-paired mobile phone with data connection.
Just announced during the show was Audiovox/Jensen's partnership with MediaFLO to bring the live mobile TV service FLO TV to Audiovox ceiling- and headrest-mounted displays. Details of the service are still coming together, but so far it looks exciting.
Don't forget to check out our First Look videos from the Car Tech Mobile Testing Lab in the center of the Car Electronics Hall, where we test the lastest from Alpine, Audiovox, JVC, Kenwood, and Sony. We even had a celebrity guest to drop by!