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Chrysler announces in-car Internet

Chrysler announces in-car Internet

The Uconnect system will allow for Internet connectivity and movie playback - but only while stopped.

American car manufacturer Chrysler has announced plans to build WiFi connectivity into its vehicles.

According to an article published by CNet yesterday, the 'automobile' manufacturer is to produce the unfortunately named 'Uconnect' add-in for around twenty different models of Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge branded vehicles. Once installed, the add-in will allow a range of features you never knew you needed in the car.

The feature list is pretty impressive: a somewhat paltry 30GB hard drive allows storage of photos, videos, and music in WMA, MP3, or AAC format; built-in hands-free for Bluetooth-enabled 'phones and a central contacts list stored within the system itself; built-in GPS with voice-recognition; Backseat TV, which is apparently a rather daft trademark of the SIRIUS Corporation, with three channels of “family TV programming” alongside over a hundred channels of satellite radio; and, last but not least, Internet access.

It's this last feature that's likely to get heads turning: by bundling a WiFi-to-CDMA/GPRS gateway with the system, Chrysler are able to offer on-the-go Internet access anywhere you can get a mobile signal. Now, why you wouldn't just use your mobile I'm not entirely certain, but I'm sure Chrysler have performed a survey of their target demographic here.

Although feature-packed – if we ignore the 30GB hard drive – it's questionable how many of the veritable cornucopia of delights would actually be of use. While things like in-built Bluetooth hands-free and voice-activated GPS navigation are unquestionably handy, I'm not so sure about the ability to play videos back through my car – especially as you can only do that “when the vehicle is in Park.” The Backseat TV option is certainly going to appeal to families, but how much extra entertainment the three channels – Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network – would offer over a cheap 'n cheerful third party in-car DVD player is questionable.

Another major sticking point is going to be cost. Although someone plumping for a top-end vehicle like the Dodge Grand Caravan (no, seriously – I'm reading from the Chrysler website here) isn't going to baulk at a few thousand extra for a kick-ass entertainment system, the TV and radio stations are going to require monthly subscriptions – as is the mobile link for the Internet connectivity. How much this fee is likely to be has yet to be announced.

Would any bit-tech readers be interested in having a hotspot-on-wheels, or do you do old-fashioned things in your cars like talk to passengers? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

17 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
sotu1 27th June 2008, 09:27 Quote
i think you guys are missing the point, how long before wifi, in car entertainments etc become the norm? built in tv would work wonder to shut up kids. no faffing with dvds either. aside from that, as far as chrysler are concerned, it's a USP for their raneg of cars.
The Infamous Mr D 27th June 2008, 09:51 Quote
I suppose riding a motorbike excludes me from such joys as DVD players.

It also excludes me from screaming brats too :-)
Xir 27th June 2008, 09:54 Quote
...Internet-on-the-go exists. Just isn't very affordable.
Well... around here ;-)

Connect an I-Phoneesque device to an in-car monitor and presto...you've got the crysler system.

For just tv...use dvb-t and get the signal *gosh* for free!
Xir 27th June 2008, 09:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
...Internet-on-the-go exists. Just isn't very affordable.
Well... around here ;-)

Connect an I-Phoneesque device to an in-car monitor and presto...you've got the crysler system.
Why it should be more expensive than an EEE-PC is beyond me, though.*

For just tv...use dvb-t and get the signal *gosh* for free!

Xir

*Hmmm, why hasn't anyone modded an EEE into a car? Use the VGA-out for the second back seat and presto...

**Sorry, pressed quote, instead of edit...feel free to delete first post.
mmorgue 27th June 2008, 10:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Infamous Mr D
I suppose riding a motorbike excludes me from such joys as DVD players.

It also excludes me from screaming brats too :-)

Couldn't agree more!

Besides, with cars as ugly as this and this I don't blame you :D
_DTM2000_ 27th June 2008, 10:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmorgue
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Infamous Mr D
I suppose riding a motorbike excludes me from such joys as DVD players.

It also excludes me from screaming brats too :-)

Couldn't agree more!

Besides, with cars as ugly as this and this I don't blame you :D


I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks their cars are ugly.
samkiller42 27th June 2008, 11:30 Quote
It's not exactly groundbreaking is it? I mean, MiB 2 had google for instance;)

I must agree with mmorgue and _DTM2000, their cars are awefull, and i'm pretty sure Some top spec BMW/Audi/Mercedes have something similar anyway, they just don't feel the need announce it all....either that, or they will have something that work's in Europe at least.

Sam
Timmy_the_tortoise 27th June 2008, 13:23 Quote
.... I have a laptop....
proxess 27th June 2008, 14:50 Quote
this will be hacked to work on-the-go
dfrangu 27th June 2008, 15:50 Quote
With 600euro you can buy here a 2DIN All-in-one device: DVD, GPS, TV, BT, you name it. And it works on any car. Yes, no WiFI, but hey, how will you access Internet? Through the touchscreen? With a keyboard? Come on... Just buy a normal CarPC and you have all of that, on any car!
Timmy_the_tortoise 27th June 2008, 16:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfrangu
With 600euro you can buy here a 2DIN All-in-one device: DVD, GPS, TV, BT, you name it. And it works on any car. Yes, no WiFI, but hey, how will you access Internet? Through the touchscreen? With a keyboard? Come on... Just buy a normal CarPC and you have all of that, on any car!

Better yet.. Build your own Car PC..

Someone should do a sweet Car PC mod with a 19" monitor stuck to the dashboard. I'd buy it.
kevtime 27th June 2008, 16:10 Quote
Just to clarify, this is not WiFI ... it's called WiMAX. Google it and you'll see that it's been around for quite a while. Ford Motors has something similar working for it in the Sync concept. One of the effects of WiMAX is that it could spell the end of satellite radio and terrestrial radio. It could also lead to the Golden Age of Internet radio. Think about it: You'll be able to listen to one of about 30,000 streaming music stations in your car. It also means that virtually anyone can be a broadcaster as it costs less-than-a-grand to set up a station and about $20-$50 a month to stream. The FCC has no control over this type of broadcasting. Sure, Internet broadcasters will have to pay royalties, but it's about to lead to a whole new ballgame in streaming media.
Timmy_the_tortoise 27th June 2008, 16:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevtime
Just to clarify, this is not WiFI ... it's called WiMAX. Google it and you'll see that it's been around for quite a while. Ford Motors has something similar working for it in the Sync concept. One of the effects of WiMAX is that it could spell the end of satellite radio and terrestrial radio. It could also lead to the Golden Age of Internet radio. Think about it: You'll be able to listen to one of about 30,000 streaming music stations in your car. It also means that virtually anyone can be a broadcaster as it costs less-than-a-grand to set up a station and about $20-$50 a month to stream. The FCC has no control over this type of broadcasting. Sure, Internet broadcasters will have to pay royalties, but it's about to lead to a whole new ballgame in streaming media.

It's just a shame that current versions of WiMax suck balls.
ParaHelix.org 27th June 2008, 18:59 Quote
Laptop + car lighter power = *cough*
AcidJiles 28th June 2008, 15:15 Quote
why dont people just talk to each other on journeys, are people so uninteresting nowadays that they cant discuss something?
Amon 28th June 2008, 21:03 Quote
For Chrysler's sake, their resources would have been better invested in terminating most of their 2008 lineup, of which at least half of conflicts and competes with itself. In-car Internet connectivity will do little to help the ailing company, but it is a somewhat useful tool that might be popular in Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States. In Canada, where their minivans outsell any other market where they are offered, it will hardly make a splash.

I'm not sure which demographic Chrysler 'surveyed' to conclude it would sell well.

FYI, Bit-tech: the Town and Country is the Chrysler Auto Group's high-end passenger minivan. Their claim that the Grand Caravan was 'high-end' is relative to the Plymouth Voyager and base Caravan.
The_Beast 29th June 2008, 00:07 Quote
Yeah it's cool but I'm not going to buy a car just because it has this option
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