Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ford Offers HD Radio With iTunes Tagging

Ford HD Radio iTunes TaggingRecently I posted a story about Ford installing in-car WiFi on their new cars in 2010 and now, it seems, the company has added even more to what they are going to offer customers. Ford is now calling themselves the first car company to have factory-installed HD Radio that comes with the ability of iTunes tagging. In a statement from Ford President Mark Fields, "iTunes tagging and HD Radio technology are strong new additions to the growing collection of Ford convenience features and technology we're offering customers to make driving even more enjoyable."

If you don't know what iTunes tagging is or how it will work, it's simple. iTunes tagging will allow drivers listening to HD Radio to tag songs on the radio they like by pushing a button. After that, the song and all its information will be saved in the radio's memory until an iPod is connected at which point the saved songs will transferred to the iPod. The iPod doesn't get the actual song however. Users are given the song's information and given the option of previewing the song or purchasing it. Drivers can save up to 100 songs at a time and transfer them to there iPod whenever they feel like it.

Fields went on to say that "this is another example of Ford's commitment to bring the widest variety of factory-installed customer-focused technology, features and conveniences to millions of people." People were beginning to think that CES 2010 was going to be dominated by TV and PMP makers but that isn't going to be the case if Ford keeps up productivity like they are now. It seems that Ford is going the way of technology on a level that not many other car manufacturers are with their built-in WiFi and now the HD Radio with iTunes tagging. No word on exact pricing has been released yet as it is being saved for CES 2010 but customers should expect to pay a premium price for the added features.

Looking for a short term mobile technology rental to to make your next trip a success? Call 800-736-8772 today and ask about our Nextel Rentals, Two Way Radio Rentals, or even our Aircard Rentals!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ford SYNC Turns Your Car into Mobile WiFi Hotspot

Ford SYNCAre you serious about your on-the-road wireless broadband? If so then you will be pleased to hear that Ford's next generation of Sync systems will come equipped with built-in WiFi as well as the ability to share a 3G connection with a driver-defined list of approved devices. Ford is working on making your car a mobile WiFi hotspot.

The process is simple. By inserting a USB mobile broadband modem, otherwise known as an air card, into SYNC's USB port you will produce a secure wireless connection that broadcasts throughout the entire vehicle. This will allow passengers in the car with WiFi enabled devices, like laptops, cell phones, iPods or handheld gaming devices to access the internet anywhere the broadband modem receives a connection.

According to Mark Fields, Ford President of the Americas, "While you're driving to grandma's house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles. And you're not paying for yet another mobile subscription or piece of hardware because Ford will let you use technology you already have."

According to some recent studies conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association, as many as 77 million adults comprise the "technology enthusiasts drivers" population. It also showed that more than half of these people show the desire for a connected communications and information system in their vehicles.

The handy USB port will allow owners to not only plug in the broadband air card but also a variety of other devices as well. But the question arises to many whether or not new technology will be able to work. Well the answer is yes, thanks to an upgrade system, SYNC has installed. Through simple software updates, SYNC can be formatted to work with even the newest of technologies.

"The speeds with which technology is evolving, particularly on the wireless front, makes obsolescence a real problem." said director of Ford's Connected Services Solutions Organization Doug VanDagens. VanDagens goes on to say "We've solved that problem by making SYNC work with just about any technology you plug into it. By leveraging a user's existing hardware, which can be upgraded independent of SYNC, we've helped ensure 'forward compatibility' with whatever connectivity technology comes next."

The fact that the SYNC hardware is factory installed makes it that much more convenient for the user. There is no bulky device installed by the dealer that takes up valuable cabin space. Another benefit with Ford's system is that other systems bought separately can run as much as $500 for just the equipment and installation and then you have a monthly subscription fee on top of that. 'Using SYNC with existing mobile devices helps Ford provide the most value, the most flexibility and the most convenience for owners," said Fields. "Constant connectivity is becoming a routine par of our customers' lives, and we're making existing technology more accessible without adding costs."

With the SYNC system, a WiFi signal will be broadcast throughout the entire vehicle. The default security will be set to WiFi protected Access 2 (WPA2), which requires users to enter a randomly chosen password to connect to the internet. When SYNC sees a new WiFi device for the first time, the driver has to allow that device to connect. This prevents unauthorized users from stealing the car's signal.

This new generation of SYNC systems is supposed to launch next year and considering Ford's CEO is the keynote speaker of CES 2010, I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more of this new mobile WiFi hotspot then.

Looking for a short term mobile technology rental to to make your next trip a success? Call 800-736-8772 today and ask about our Nextel Rentals, Two Way Radio Rentals, or even our Aircard Rentals!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Using Your iPhone Overseas Can Be Costly

Using Your iPhone Overseas

iPhones and apps are great for travel. People are using them for everything from booking flights to locating wi-fi hotspots in new destinations. But what happens when you go outside of the United States? Will it cost more to use travel apps in say, Paris, than it does in Atlanta? The short answer, according to National Geographic, is yes. If you're planning to travel outside of the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands, it will cost you more to use your iPhone.

One thing you can to avoid expensive international rates is to turn off your data roaming. You can do this by going to "Settings," then "general," then "network," then "data roaming OFF." By doing this, you disable features like email, apps and internet browsing. But if you simply can't go without Googling that restaurant you wanted to try or taking advantage of your favorite apps, there are a few other ways to avoid paying too much for iPhone usage.

If you have Wi-Fi access, turn off your 3G. Wi-fi is faster and free under AT&T. 3G will rack up enormous fees and make you regret checking your emails 500 times while you were on your Mexican vacation. To turn your 3G off, simply go to "Settings," then "general," then "network," then "enable 3G off."

If you do have to use your 3G, rates can get complicated. AT&T charges by the kilobyte and megabyte of internet usage and there's no way to judge how many of either you've used by timing your 3G usage. According to the article in National Geographic, an AT&T customer service rep said that most websites will charge between 10 and 25 kilobytes. If you're inside one of the 90 countries that are within AT&T's roam zone, you'll pay half a cent per kilobyte and $5.00 per megabyte. Outside of those 90 countries, you'll pay two cents per kilobyte and $20.00 per megabyte. Confused? We were, too.

If you plan to use your iPhone overseas frequently, you may want to purchase an AT&T Global add-on. This will help reduce overage costs by paying a flat fee for using your 3G in the 90 countries within the roam zone. The plans range from a $24.99 a month plan that allows you 20 megabytes of internet to the $199.99 a month plan that allows 200 megabytes of internet. Fortunately, there is no contract with this feature. If you know you'll be traveling during one month and not the next, simply remove it from your monthly bill. Just make sure the country you're visiting is on the list.

Just remember, even if you purchase the add-on, you may still find yourself racking up the overage fees. You can keep track of your data by press *3282# and then "send." This lets you keep track of your usage and may prevent a few surprises when you receive your monthly bill.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Virtual Bulletin Board To Help Plan Your Next Trip.

Duffel is a new website designed to help you plan your trips. If you've ever tried to plan a trip with multiple people you know it takes a lot of emailing, calling, texting and organizing. Duffel takes all the hassle out of it while placing all the information in one place for everyone in your party to see.

To start out, register, you can make your itinerary public or visible only to those you invite to see it. After that, you enter your destination city (ie: New York, NY), travel dates and you can name your trip as well (ie: "Family Reunion", "Andrew's Birthday"). Then you have the option to "plan alone" or "plan with friends". If you choose the "plan with friends option" you can add contacts from Facebook, Email, and other Duffel users.

Once you've completed those tasks you are then presented with what looks like a typical cork bulletin board. Duffel automatically starts you off with a few suggestions for the city you're visiting, but you can alter them as necessary. You have different tabs to enter in different aspects of your trip which include: Food & Drink, Activity, Lodging, Transportation, Notes, Recommendations. For example, if you click on "Lodging" you'll see the image below and you can enter your lodging information for you and the people with whom you're planning your trip.

You can select "map view" to see a google map of your itinerary and see where everything is all at once.

Once you have an idea of what you want to do, where you want to eat, stay, travel, you can drag and drop your itinerary and links to the day planner on the left hand side of the screen. The one thing Duffel lacks is an hour-by-hour planning feature, but not everyone plans every minute of every trip. And perhaps they'll add that feature in the future.

Duffel seems to be a very simple and easy to use trip planning tool. It took me less than 5 minutes to prepare a bulletin board with a few ideas for an upcoming vacation. And when you're collaborating with friends or relatives, it makes it virtually hassle-free as everyone can put in their suggestions in one central location instead of various emails and text messages.