Walking into last week’s NAIAS, we received a rather tacky-looking plastic card emblazoned with the words “Discover It!” “It” turned out to be HD Radio, the future of music. The FCC has approved this as the new standard but most experts predict that the service will not become commonplace until about 2010. BMW is one of the few companies that is offering it as an option now.
With HD Radio, stations will have the ability to offer several different programming selections on the same frequency with no more snap, crackle, and pop of current radio reception. On the other hand, if you are on the edge of a station, you probably won’t hear it at all. Although HD Radio is already available in about 900 stations and free to the public online, receivers are not, and a quick survey of them were priced at ~$249.00 on the low end.
Read More | HD Radio
Now that Bush has decided to send 20,000 more troops off to war, we would suggest a much safer alternative. iRobot, another company that attended the CES 2007, has created the unmanned R-Gator in cooperation with John Deere. It can act as scout, “point man,” perimeter guard, and pack/ammo/supply carrier. The bot features teleoperation, autonomous waypoint navigation, obstacle avoidance, and manual operation. Released in 2006 in limited numbers, we think it would be an interesting idea to spend tax dollars on robots that cannot be killed as opposed to humans that can.
Read More | iRobot
Before we leave the NAIAS, we have to show you the answer to your futuristic automotive prayers. This is the Ryuga (Japanese for “gracious flow”,) a concept car created by Mazda. Destined to come out around the year 2020, it will probably run on hydrogen fuel. Note that there are no door handles (we suspect it opens with an electronic touch keypad) and it looks like you have to slink into it. Of course, you’re not allowed to sit in, touch, or even breathe too closely to the concept cars, but we can’t help but remember when we saw something like this 20 years ago in Sci-fi movies. As we recall, it was also airborne.
Read More | Mazda
Not only were the MINI Coopers fun to sit in, we found about 6 more excuses to stick around that area. This remote car racing game was consistently full of business men in CIA-looking suits.
Another tabletop game was more fun to crash and burn than to stay on the road. Finally, Mike had some difficulty finding which way to go in Volkswagen’s “Need For Speed.”
The point here is that if you get a chance to visit the NAIAS, head for the BMW/MINI Cooper/Volkswagen corner.
Read More | NAIAS 2007
One of our favorite places to be at the NAIAS was behind the wheel of the MINI Cooper Sidewalk Convertible. Making its debut here, it comes with stylish paintwork, light-alloy wheels, and exclusive leather upholstery. It features a 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo-charged 128kW/175 hp engine and your choice of 5 (standard) or 6-speed or automatic transmission. It reaches 100km/h in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 133 mph.
The soft top opens automatically in 15 seconds and its windscreen takes over. The convertible also features a pump-up seat for us shorter folk, PDC (Park Distance Control), a Tire Defect indicator that warns you if your pressure is too low, surround sound even in the doors, and a dashboard with AM/FM mini boost radio, SAT, CD, and MEDIA buttons, indicative of many of the new higher end cars being shown. We don’t care if the Sidewalk’s base price is $21,850. We still want one.
Read More | MINI Cooper
Mike was ready to roll on this BMW G650 Xchallenge. The bike features a single-cylinder powerplant which they claim is 4.5 lbs. lighter than its earlier 650 engine. It puts out 53 horsepower at 7,000 rpm with a torque performance of 44 pound per foot at 5,250 rpm. It sports a bridge frame of tubular steel with aluminum handlebar, side sections, rear frame, and swingarm, and a stainless steel tailpipe. With a closed loop 3-way catalytic converter, a fuel tank under its seat, spoke wheels, and a MSRP of $8,925.00, no matter how much we want one, we’ll just hang on to the photo.
Read More | BMW Motorcycles
The Ford Focus will be one of the cars being issued this fall that will feature Sync, and they are keeping it on the downlow. We couldn’t get a price, (“It will blow away the competition,”) any pictures of it in a vehicle, or even mention the name of the dude who was telling us what we weren’t supposed to know. Maybe Microsoft is saving the info for the CES. All we were told/shown was that Ford has the exclusive rights until 2008, that it will play and/or recharge your iPod via USB, interrupt your tunes if you have an incoming call, and has text message/voice recognition capability.
Read More | Ford
Andru, Sparky, Nate, Jesse, and Chris get to hang at the CES this week, and since some of us had to keep the domestic front safe, Photographer/Artist Mike Wrathell and I decided to get on the action at this year’s NAIAS (North American International Auto Show), even if North American International is a contradiction in terms. Entering the Cobo Center we found Sirius and XMR on each side of the main doorway, and all we got was this lousy key chain. That product placement was rather clever of them, considering most of the cars we saw either already have or will soon be offering optional satellite capability.
Audiovox is another honoree at this year’s CES with its XM Mini-Tuner CNP2000. Claiming to be the only portable cartridge tuner in the satellite radio world, it can be moved back and forth from your home theatre system, office, DVD player, car, or even clock radio. Insert the tuner into a dock station or directly into a portable “mini-tuner” product. Contact Audiovox for price and availability if you want to Howard ex-Sternalize your life.
Looking for a way to lose a few of those holiday pounds? We tried one of these bikes years ago when they were still new and gawky. The 3D Innovations PCGamerBike Mini looks barely large enough to hold an adult, but there must have been much improvement since it has won a CES 2007 Innovations D & E Award.
Plug it into a USB port on your game system or PC and utilize the pedals to move forward or backwards while you become a car, bike, boat, or anything else that moves. The bike can be configured to any button on its optional keyboard or 3 primary mouse buttons on its controller, and can be customized to your atheletic ability. It comes with $94 worth of free Island Worlds software to play with and you can download more subscription games, such as World of Warcraft. You can even create your own program.
Once you tire of the fun and games, you can also make use of the bike as an exercycle. It keeps track of calories burned, distance, speed, and will keep a daily graph. The mini-bike is available now at 3d Innovations for $179.99.
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