Riding In Cars With Bluetooth

Alison Young
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June 17, 2005
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Bluetooth wireless technology has made my life so convenient. I’ve had a Bluetooth headset for my phone for almost four years, and I’ve been syncing my laptop to my PDA phone via Bluetooth for about three years. I don’t know what I would do without it.

When most people hear about Bluetooth, they associate it with mobile phones and headsets. In a nutshell, Bluetooth provides a way to wirelessly connect and exchange information between devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), computers, printers, mobile phones or digital cameras. It allows the voice or data transmissions to be transmitted via a short distance radio link.

The expansion of this technology in the past year has led to the greatest growth in the automotive industry. There are now more than 20 car companies that offer standard or optional Bluetooth-enabled communications in their newer models. Some of the popular car brands that offer Bluetooth built-in or as an option are Acura, Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Honda, Lexus, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The newest Bluetoothequipped vehicles enable drivers to keep their cell phone tucked away while the onboard system provides handsfree calling, and some systems can even download the cell phone’s directory into the vehicle’s display. The most common Bluetooth feature in cars (in several variations) is the ability to control your mobile phone wirelessly from your steering wheel or the dashboard. For those of you who aren’t going to buy a new car soon, there are aftermarket devices available such as the ones made by Parrot. Most of the kits are easy to use. You just plug it into the cigarette lighter, and you’re ready to be handsfree. The prices range from $100 to $200 (www.cnet.com).


Other Bluetooth features in cars include keyless entry and tire pressure monitoring. The Audi A6 3.2 lets you open the car just by walking up to it, and starting the engine with the push of a button. Pirelli’s XPressure AcousticBlue, available this September, will allow you to check the pressure on your tires without getting out of the car.

Who knows what they will think of next? With all the advances and more to come, I say that buying a car with a Bluetooth system will almost be like buying a computer, because there’ll always be something new and exciting coming out. Note that in order for your phone to work with your Bluetooth-ready car, your phone must be Bluetooth enabled. Keep your eyes open for new Bluetooth things to come. For more information go to www.bluetooth.com

Know Your Game Ratings.
I play a lot of games, and honestly don’t usually pay much attention to the rating on the box since the games I buy are for myself. For a concerned parent, that rating icon would be important to consider. I’ve received a few questions from parents about what games are safe for their children to play. The answer is that it really depends on what you are willing to expose your child to.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has made it easy to make that decision with its rating system. It’s designed to provide information about computer and video game content so consumers (especially parents) can make informed purchase decisions specifically for games. You may have seen the icons on the box, in commercials or in print ads and wonder what they stand for.

There are six ESRB Rating categories (icons are shown on picture):

• EC (Early Childhood): may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Titles in this category contain no material that parents would find inappropriate.

• E (Everyone): may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

• E10+ (Everyone 10 and older): may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

• T (Teen): may be suitable for 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood and/or infrequent use of strong language.

• M (Mature): may be suitable for ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

• AO (Adults Only): should only be played by persons 18 and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

For your child’s sake, the next time you buy a video game, take a moment to check the rating according to the listed criteria above and make sure it’s what you want for him/her.

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