Honda's New Touch Display Multimedia System Put To the Test


The automotive world is in a battle over touch-sensitive controls versus old-fashioned buttons and knobs. Some automakers pull off the new-wave systems well, others not so much. As a group, the editors at generally favor some sort of physical buttons to complement the latest in-car technology.

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Honda doesn't seem to agree. Its latest Touch Display Radio is devoid of any physical controls and is featured in one of its most popular cars, the Civic. It also will be rolled out in the redesigned 2015 Fit that goes on sale later this year. How well does it work?

By David Thomas | March 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

iPhone 5 Turn-by-Turn Navigation vs. Android vs. Automaker


A lot has been said about the new Maps application on the iPhone 5 and the latest iPhone operating system. People say they've gotten lost or they can't find the location they're looking for and are just generally unhappy. The problems have even led the company to apologize for the app itself.

But the one function drivers covet the most about the app — turn-by-turn directions — worked exceptionally well for nearly two weeks of testing. That doesn't mean there aren't issues, and yes, I got lost.

By David Thomas | October 8, 2012 | Comments (32) Tests New iPhone Maps App in a Mercedes-Benz SL550


By David Thomas and Dave Lee

Apple unveiled a number of new laptops and two new operating systems earlier this week. The new mobile platform's operating system, iOS 6, will be coming to iPhones this fall, and one of its major upgrades is a new Maps application that's been designed from the ground up by Apple and replaces the current Google-based version.

We installed the beta version of iOS 6 on an iPhone 4 that we had handy and decided to test it head-to-head with an iPhone 4 running iOS 5.

It was a gorgeous Chicago summer day, so it only made sense to log these test miles in a brand-new Mercedes-Benz SL550 convertible, stickering at close to $130,000. I got behind the wheel while gadget-obsessed editor Dave Lee manned the two iPhones side by side in the massage-equipped passenger seat.

This is what we discovered.

By David Thomas | June 14, 2012 | Comments (4)

New Maps Coming to iPhone, iPad


At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference today, the company announced a new mapping system built from the ground up. The new system is intended to replace Google Maps on iOS 6 devices including the iPhone.

The new Maps application catches up with many features seen in Android devices. Features include:

  • Local search and points of interest, with more than 100 million listings worldwide.
  • Yelp is integrated into the app.
  • Traffic view: Traffic data is anonymous and crowd-sourced.
  • Turn-by-turn navigation: This is a feature that is long overdue for iOS. If traffic slows down, the app will look for a faster route.
  • Siri integration: It’s just as you’d suspect. Ask Siri to go somewhere, tap the route button and you’re on your way. You can ask questions en route to your destination, too, such as, “Where can I get gas?”
  • The new app will be part of iOS 6, which is coming this fall with support versions of the iPhone 3GS or newer, fourth-generation iPod Touch and second-gen iPad or newer.

Apple also showed off vehicle integration with Siri, called Eyes Free. This feature lets you toggle Siri on your iOS device via a button on the steering wheel. BMW, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda have signed on in support, with Siri support showing up in vehicles within the next 12 months, according to a post on Engadget.

Apple Teases Eyes Free, Siri Car Integration (Engadget)
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iOS 6 Preview

By Dave Lee | June 11, 2012 | Comments (0)

Supreme Court Rules on GPS Tracking

Secret Global Positioning System tracking is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, says a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure. All nine justices ruled that a warrant is necessary to use GPS when tracking suspects in a criminal investigation.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 23, 2012 | Comments (4)

No More Cutouts: Where Do Aftermarket Stereos Go?

Getting an aftermarket stereo used to be straightforward. Head down to the electronics store, pick a new unit, yank out your old stereo and install the replacement in a same-size dashboard cavity. Installation professionals could do it in a jiffy — and the resulting unit fit snugly, looked OK and brought you up to speed with the latest technology: a tape deck, a CD player and eventually an MP3 jack.

That's hardly the case today. Cars from the Ford Fiesta (above) to the Honda Accord integrate cutout-free stereos into ever-more seamless dashboards, but audio technology continues to improve faster than car companies update models. Market researcher NPD Group reports nearly a third of people already listen to music in their cars off a smartphone or MP3 player, and near-future systems boast complete smartphone integration. Today's new-car buyers don't have the easy ability to upgrade their stereos like they once did.

By Kelsey Mays | November 7, 2011 | Comments (17)

New Navigation Units to Watch For

We’re still waiting for a navigation device that shows you where the open parking spots are, but until then, we’ll have to make do with the stuff tech companies showed off at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Maybe companies haven’t quite figured out that dream device yet, but some gadgets at the show did pique our interest. Here are some of the highlights.

  • Pioneer debuted two new navigations systems: the AVIC Z130BT (above) and AVIC X930BT. Smartphone compatible and featuring Pioneer’s free Aha Radio Mobile, the systems will broadcast audio versions of Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. Drivers will also be able to watch YouTube, Hulu or other web videos, but only when the vehicle is parked. Debuting in the spring, the pricey units will start at $1,000 to $1,500.
  • Garmin will roll out a new line of nav systems called the nuvi 2400 series. It’s the typical 5-inch screen, with trafficTrends and myTrends features powered by nuRoute. The high-end 2460 model also has hands-free calling and voice activation.
  • Garmin is launching a new iPhone navigation app for $39.99. Now available on iTunes, StreetPilot is different from its competitors only in that it doesn’t store a massive database of apps but rather downloads them as needed. The downside? You need a cell signal, and anyone who owns an iPhone can attest that AT&T does not always come through in the clutch. Let’s hope it works better on Verizon.
By Stephen Markley | January 14, 2011 | Comments (2)

Honda's New Navigation System: First Look

Making its debut on the 2011 Honda Odyssey is the company’s upgraded navigation system. The hard-drive-based unit packs an 8-inch high-resolution screen, live traffic with a lifetime subscription, and voice commands that make it quite a few steps better than the outdated system adorning current Hondas.

The company wouldn’t reveal which other vehicles will receive the upgraded unit in the future. Considering the 2011 Honda CR-Z and Accord still feature the current system, we’d guess the next model to get it will be the redesigned Civic, which will go on sale early in 2011.

Below we show you some of the new screens and detail the improvements.
By David Thomas | September 8, 2010 | Comments (15)

Navigation Systems Put to the Test: The Results

On Wednesday, we laid out plans to take several navigation systems — the pricey factory systems in an Acura TSX, a BMW 3 Series and an Infiniti G37, plus a $180 handheld Garmin Nuvi 255W — and see how they dealt with a range of simple and challenging routes. We started easy, then threw in everything from pit stops and missed exits to recently constructed highways and brand-new housing developments.

The results were illuminating. By day’s end, each of the systems had stumbled at least once. But when we tallied the evaluation, BMW’s Harman-supplied system won the day.

We’ll explain.

By Kelsey Mays | September 2, 2010 | Comments (10)

Navigation Systems Put to the Test

One of the most popular options available for new cars is a navigation system. Often these add $1,000 to $3,000 to the sticker price and can even be wrapped into more expensive packages.

It’s certainly easier to swallow that slightly higher monthly payment if the navigation system you just paid for works the way you think it should. But after testing hundreds of cars over the years, we know they don’t all deliver.
By Kelsey Mays | September 1, 2010 | Comments (12)

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