Got a car you're happy with — for now? Tech it up with some of our favorite geeky car accessories.
Traffic Info: Garmin Nüvi 680
$1,000 street, www.garmin.com
The best of the shirt-pocket devices, though not the cheapest, is the Nüvi 680, with a 4.3-inch quarter VGA (QVGA, or 320-by-240) LCD screen. Connect it to your car's power and it receives real-time traffic reports, giving you a better idea of roads to avoid ... or of how late you'll be.
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Add-On: HD Radio Directed Electronics Car Connect DMHD1000
$200 street, www.directed.com
HD Radio can triple the radio broadcasts you receive: One frequency carries the digital station while two others are multicast on the same frequency. The Car Connect HD tuner connects to any existing radio via the antenna for no loss in signal quality. Mount a small module on the dash, then tune your radio to an unused FM station, or use the auxiliary input.
Car Stereo: Sony MEX-BT5000
$400 street, www.xplodsony.com/mex-bt5000
For a unique way to get Bluetooth in your car, try replacing your old stereo with one that integrates Bluetooth. The MEX-BT5000 has an AM/FM receiver, CD player, 24-bit DAC, and more. The Bluetooth isn't just for phone calls; with a device supporting A2DP (the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), you can stream music off devices. And there are plug-in modules for iPods and Sirius or XM satellite radio.
Cell-Phone Navigator: LG 9900 ENV
$10 per month (unlimited service), www.vznavigator.com
Portable navigators continue to shrink, but you've got to remember to take them with you. Consider a cell phone with nav built-in, like the LG 9900 enV running VZ Navigator software from Verizon and Networks in Motion. Place messaging lets you send a "GPS thumbtack" to someone else's phone, setting your location as a destination.
GPS Navigation: Alpine PMD-B100 Blackbird
$500 street, www.blackbirdnav.com
Here's a navigation device you can use three ways: Try it as a battery-operated walkabout unit with a 3.6-inch color screen (though Big Bird is more like it if you try to tuck this into a coat pocket) or as a dashboard-mounted personal nav aid. Or add a $200 docking module that hides the Blackbird under your seat and connects to an Alpine AV head unit with a big LCD (about $1,000). This option gives you a system nearly as good as what you'd get built into a new car.
Cell-Phone Adapter: Parrot CK3100 LCD
$180 street, www.parrot.com
Cell phones are most distracting — and illegal — when held in your hand. If you don't like an earpiece dangling as you drive, get a dash-mount Bluetooth adapter such as Parrot's, which connects to most car stereos or a separate speaker. Only a small display stays visible. Voice recognition lets you dial by name!
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