“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Things That Make You Wanna Get Stuck in Traffic for a Long Time

If you’ve driven from one end of the US to the other, you’d know how important an entertainment system is, especially if you have kids in tow. It can get irritating how often they ask “Are we there yet?” as if they don’t notice that the car is still moving. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve had my share of driving across the interstate and highways that I always make it a point to test all of my car’s entertainment features before I set out. And, mind you, it takes the better part of an hour with all the stuff that’s fitted to my car. And I don’t even have one of those high-end entertainment systems, which are so complex they make a supercomputer seem like a kid’s toy.

One of my favorite hang-outs is the car service station a block away from my house. I love to ogle at all cars that are checked in for regular maintenance and inspection. Being the helpful guy that I am, I often stick my nose inside the passenger compartment and check out the features of all the newer car models. The guys there don’t mind because when they are bamboozled by something (Hey! I don’t seem to remember the last time that word was used!), they’d come to me. And with an air of nonchalance (Again, what’s up with the 18th century words? They keep popping in my head like crazy!) I help them out. During my innocent sticking-my-nose-in-the-passenger-compartment doings, I was able to see different entertainment systems in use today, and here they are:

CD/DVD Player

It transforms your conventional car into a movie theater on wheels. At first glance it’s not highly conspicuous, but at a push of a button a fairly wide screen pops out and you can watch movies, concerts and recorded TV shows while you’re on the go. This technology is not that new, but it certainly is still a must-have.

Multi-Disc Changer

Car owners are lazy people. They aren’t satisfied with high-end entertainment systems, and so they ask for more. The answer? An upgrade. Nowadays you can store a number of CDs and DVDs in your entertainment unit and move from watching one movie to the next at a push of a button. How cool is that?! Brands that offer multi-disc changers are Kenwood, Pioneer, Alpine and many others.

HD Radio/Satellite Radio Tuner

Forgot to bring your CD/DVD collection? Don’t worry. Most vehicles are still fitted with a radio and antenna so your car still has AM/FM capabilities. Old school radios are also taken to the next level when HD Radio, XM and Sirius systems were offered as standard parts and upgrades on new vehicle models. You may need to get a tuner, or subscribe to a network to get some of the frequencies.

USB Connectivity

If you’re a techie, I bet you have an iPod or a USB flash drive. If you do, then it’s a good thing that most auto entertainment units have USB ports. You can just plug and play. You no longer need to bring audio CDs because you can just download music from your PC to your USB-capable device.

Navigation System

Who said GPS was only made so dumb drivers wouldn’t get lost? If you have nothing better to do, you can brush up on your elementary and high school geography by memorizing the states, cities and even streets of the US. I wonder how long it would take you to do all that.

Mobile Video Games

I saved the best for last. If you have kids, this is the ultimate must-have. Even if your car doesn’t have a radio or a movie player, you can distract your kid long enough for you to reach your destination as peacefully and quietly as possible. It’s preferable that you place it on the front seat headrest, facing the 2nd row of seats so you won’t be tempted to grab that control stick.

And the great thing about mobile entertainment systems is that they can be placed almost anywhere. You can have it on your dashboard, overhead, in the headrest, or even on the floor for all I care. For maximum effect, the entertainment system should be hooked up to surround-sound speakers, or speakers on the headrest. Whew! I’d just as soon live in my car if it has all of those.