Just finishing up another great summer trip back east - two
weeks in Cape Cod and Maine.
This year I picked up a Chysler Town & Country minivan from Avis from Boston Logan. Turns out that minivans are cheaper to rent than SUVs. I guess you pay extra for a "cool" SUV. Digital Dad tip - if you think you're cooler in an SUV rental than a miivan rental then you are sadly, and pathetically, mistaken.
The Chrysler fared well. I thought I was getting that version with the seats that spin around and the card table pops up, but no such luck. But, it had three rows, split rear row and two buckets in th middle. The ride was solid and it even had a cool blue neon accent light down the center of the ceiling. Neat.
The dashboard is dominated with a large display with buttons down each side. Music wise we had AM/FM and XM/SAT. The XM was very cool and entertaining - even found some old radio shows to listen to (Dimension X!). Presets were easy and you could even hit a favorites button when you heard an artist or song you liked, and the system would give you a pop up later when a song from that artist was about to start on another station. Makes sense when you have 150 channels of pre-programmed content, not applicable to on demand streaming like from Pandora, etc.
So let's get to streaming. This puppy had support for not only the usual Bluetooth headset profile, but it also the BT audio streaming and AVRCP. I could pair my Windows Phone and could stream music all day through the sound system. No cables, no nothing. Yes, I could charge via either of te USB ports, or via the old cigarette light to micro-USB, but it was not required. Also, I could control track functions from the car display and also see the meta data - artist, song title. Very nice. This also worked with a Samsung Nexus I had.
The Nexus also could act like USB storage so I could also import pictures and music to the car's "hard drive." I could then set a picture of my own as the default display picture. Couple of issues here - the display itself was incredibly low res, maybe 200 pixels across? The pictures looked like crap. And if I can cloud stream music, why copy files to a car's hard drive? Keep it all on the phone (or in the cloud) and stream it. Net net this feature was probably a ton of code for someone with little, if any, user benefit. Old Skool.
The car would also traverse my phone's phone book for calling but the voice reco was terrible. A joke, really, such that my kids laughed when I tried to se it. Voice is either 100% accurate or it's useless. In thsi case, it was the latter.
There was an AC plug in the back row and a button on the dash that said "110 power." We tried to charge a phone from this but the current was so weak the phone died when it was still plugged in!
If you avoid the voice stuff on this, and avoid the backseat plug, the Chrysler system works pretty well. Note to Chrysler - simplify.