RAIN 7/30: Come to RAB/NAB a day early for RAIN Summit East
GET NET RADIO ON THE ROAD WITH A SMARTPHONE (OR iPOD TOUCH) AND LITTLE MOREThose new web-connected in-dash entertainment systems from Ford, BMW and others are wonderful strides toward making Internet radio a viable medium for in-car listening. But most of the new systems are exactly that: new. And that means they usually only come in new, expensive cars that will take a while to trickle down to most car-owners.
But there are plenty of ways to get your Net radio fix while driving today, even if your car stereo can only handle cassette tapes. All are pretty budget-friendly, especially when compared to the price of a new car. Here’s RAIN’s Top 3 In-Car Net Radio Combos:
1) Sprint Android phone + cassette/FM adapter. Start-up cost: $100-250. Monthly cost: $70-100.
PROS: You may already be paying for a smartphone data plan, in which case you’re now just stretching your dollar even further. Sprint still offers unlimited data plans (unlike AT&T) and plans are relatively cheap. Lots of Net radio app choices in the Android App Market. Cassette and FM adapters are a cheap way to play Net radio through an older car stereo.
CONS: You have to hook up your phone every time you get in the car, then power up the app, then dial in the right FM frequency…and that cellular signal may fade.
2) 8GB iPod Touch + AutoNet in-car router + cassette/FM adapter. Start-up cost: $550-$700. Monthly cost: $30.
PROS: AutoNet’s monthly plan is cheaper than smartphone plans. Again, cassette/FM adapter plays nice with older stereos. And, if the iPod Touch can stay hooked up in car, it’s much less annoying to fire up Internet radio every time you get in the car.
CONS: That $30 a month is only for Net access in your car, unlike a smartphone that can go anywhere with you. The $500 start-up cost for an AutoNet router is over double the $200 cost of a smartphone.
TIP: If the iPod Touch is going to just stay in your car as a permanent resident, save money and get a used first-gen iPod Touch. You won’t need multitasking.
3) iPhone 4 + Pioneer AVIC-X920BT car entertainment system. Start-up cost: $1300. Monthly cost: Around $90.
PROS: Pioneer’s car radio links to your iPhone through Bluetooth, which is much smoother than cassette or FM options. Plus, the entertainment system can control Pandora playback through a nice driver-friendly screen. Much easier and safer to control.
CONS: Pioneer’s system only supports Pandora. The costs are outrageous. AT&T’s network is unreliable in many cities.
Of course there are many other options to access Internet radio in your car. Got a better or cheaper combo than the ones listed here? Share them with us and your fellow readers in the commment section! — MS
You can use your own music too, and it supports iOS4 multitasking. The Radio Alarm app is $1.99 in the App Store. Find more from Gizmodo here.
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