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Electronics Buyer's Guide - The Electric Soup

Great gadgets for your ride you never knew you needed

Anthony Gelinas
Jun 22, 2010 SHARE

Most GPS-enabled cell phones use some type of navigation or mapping software. They're great when you're walking the streets of an unfamiliar town, but problems often surface when you try to use them in a moving vehicle. The main problem is mounting the phone so you get a good GPS signal lock while still allowing you to access the phone's buttons and hear the directions. Magellan has developed a premium car kit that, when used in conjunction with the company's RoadMate app, will transform an iPhone or iPod Touch into a complete in-car navigation system. The phone cradle offers a secure mounting location, charging station, built-in GPS receiver, amplified speaker for clear directions, and a noise-cancelling microphone for hands-free calling. The use of the Magellan Premium Car Kit is not restricted for use only with RoadMate will work with all navigation applications.
App: $79.99
Premium Car Kit: $129.99

MiTAC Digital Corp
800.707.9971
magellangps.com

The problem with drive-by-wire throttle systems is that they can give an unbalanced, non-progressive throttle feel. You may feel you have to floor the gas just to get the car to move with any authority. There's a sensor located on the fuel pedal that converts the angle of the pedal into a digital signal that is then relayed to the ECU, which instructs the throttle body on what to do. The Sprint Booster unit is installed between the pedal sensor and the ECU and is designed to intercept and modify the electronic signals to increase pedal sensitivity and throttle response, and eliminate throttle delays. $329.99

Sprint Booster
877.225.5577
sprintboosterusa.com

"Got a check engine light? Stop by and we'll check it out for freeeee!" How many times have you heard that one? To get rid of that light, about your only options include specialty service shops, spending $250 on software and cables for use on a laptop, or-the last resort-visiting the dreaded dealership. Starting at just $59.95, ECS Tuning offers its V-Checker Scanner Basic, a small handheld device for most late-model Audis and VWs that really can check and clear fault codes and reset service lights. If you're looking for a device that can do a little more, the Pro version works on almost all modes and can also view data from measuring blocks and perform adaptations. $59.95 (base); $109.95 (Pro)

ECS Tuning
800.924.5172
ecstuning.com

Always running late because you're spending time sitting in your car holding that button to get your convertible top up or down? Or when it's really hot, having to get in the car and wait to roll down all the windows and let the pent-up heat escape? Now you can end the waiting with the Mods4cars remoteKEY, a module that interfaces with the with the factory electronics, allowing the driver to open and close the windows or sunroof with a push of button and giving you complete control through your key fob. Every Mods4cars smartTOP module features a mini USB port, allowing it to be easily updated to the latest software releases. Applications: Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes, Porsche, VW, Volvo $299

Mods4cars
wit-usa.com

It's a great thing to find that road less traveled, but finding your way back can sometimes be a challenge. The Nation of Go app for iPhone and Blackberry allows you to record your trip from start to finish with the touch of a button. The phone then logs info about your trip using GPS coordinates. You can also take pictures and use GPS tags to identify the locations. The data is uploaded from your phone to the Nation of Go website. Then you can log in from your home computer to see your trip displayed on Google maps, along with data such as distance traveled and trip duration. You can share your trip with friends or keep it saved in your account. You can also search local communities and discover new roads in your area-perfect for scenic drives or Sunday GTG runs.
Available for iPhone 3G/3GS, Blackberry Curve 8310/8330
Free

nationofgo.com

With more and more states implementing hands-free cell phone laws you have two choices: stop using your phone in the car, or equip your vehicle with a hands-free system. For those without a factory installed Bluetooth system, mObridge has the perfect solution. Its latest release for late-model Volkswagens offers a fully integrated solution that allows you to operate your Bluetooth-enabled phone through all of the existing vehicle controls. In addition to allowing the use of the factory controls, the unit displays call information and phone data in the vehicle's center display or on touchscreen navigation, if equipped. In addition to Bluetooth, mObridge offers a full line of vehicle integration products. Applications: Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, MINI, Porsche, Volkswagen

Mobridge
mobridgeinc.com

VBOX is renowned for making vehicle performance and data logging systems for professional race teams and manufacturers. While the product line is extensive, the company is well known for the PerformanceBox, a windshield-mounted, self-contained GPS data logging and display system that measures vehicle acceleration, g-forces, lap times, and horsepower. The company's latest creation, VIDEO VBOX LITE, takes the VBOX GPS data acquisition system and two bullet cams and combines that with a solid-state video recorder with real-time graphic overlay. When playing back the DVD-quality video for your friends you'll have to convince them that they are really watching you and not some high-end video game. $1,845

VBOX USA
248.655.0557
vboxusa.com

If you're a BMW owner in search of a reasonably priced diagnostic tool, Bavarian Technic might have just what you need. The company offers Windows-based diagnostic software that works for both BMW and MINI and starts under $300. The software can read and clear fault codes, display and log real-time data, reset service reminders, activate components, and more. This is perfect for the enthusiast who'll want to log and verify engine data after installing upgrades, or even the daily driver who doesn't want to waste money at the dealership investigating every check engine light or resetting service reminders. Applications: BMW, MINI $287 (2000-up) $347* (1994-'99) *includes two data cables

Bavarian Technic
bavariantechnic.com

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By Anthony Gelinas
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