Summer’s coming, so it’s time to browse our latest collection of motoring-related gadgets. From all-new toys to classic innovation, here’s our summer selection of must-have gadgets for your car – as compiled by the Crawley Down Group.
Must-have driving gadgets at a glance…
Hover your cursor over the gadgets below for a quick description, then click on the link for an in-depth analysis and purchase details.
EE Buzzard – Wi-fi for your car
Anyone who suffers from post-connectivity disorder the moment they step three inches beyond the confines of a Wi-Fi network will be relieved hear that help has arrived. The all-new EE Buzzard is an internet device that will convert your car from a mere mode of transport into a fully functioning, super-fast Mi-Fi hub.
Designed to fit in your drinks holder, the coke can-sized device plugs into your 12v cigarette socket and provides an online connection for up to 10 devices.
The Buzzard launched on May 28 and will be available with data plans from £10 a month on a two-year deal and an upfront payment of £19.00. There will also be a £49.00 pay-as-you-go option.
How much: From £19.00 upfront with monthly data charges from £10. Pay-as-you-go also available.
Where: Head to http://shop.ee.co.uk
The Doona – a baby seat that’s a buggy
It could well be the answer to every parent’s dream; a baby seat that at the flick of a clip folds out into a stylish stroller.
Collapsing it again is slightly more time consuming, with a four-step process required, but just think of all that bootspace you’ll be saving. It weighs 15lbs and comes in seven colours, including bright pink and sky blue.
It has passed stringent UK testing procedures for baby seats, so there’s no need to worry about safety.
How much: £299.00
Where: Pre-order the Doona at http://www.toysrus.co.uk
Digital Tiny Traveller Wireless Baby Monitor
Research reveals that children – young babies in particular – are one of the top reasons for motorists to become dangerously distracted while driving. That’s where the Digital Tiny Traveller Wireless Baby Monitor for Your Car comes into its own – with the snappily-named device allowing you to keep a quick eye on junior, while also keeping your eyes on the road.
Simply train the camera on your baby – using one of three mounting options that cover front- and rear-facing seats – stick the monitor to your screen and keep a watchful wireless eye on the child without ever having to turn round.
The system includes night vision viewing, so you’ll never be left in the dark. The kit comes with a camera, monitor and all the mounts you’ll need. With no hard-wiring to worry about, it’s simple to install, too.
How much: From £159.99
Where: Buy it at http://www.maplin.co.uk
Get a supercar soundtrack
Ever had the desire to drive a Ferrari 512, but you have bank account that suggests a mid-noughties Ford Fiesta is more suitable? You need the SoundRacer V12.
The device uses an innovative FM transmitter to fill your car with the soundtrack of a real-life Ferrari 512 V12 engine. The device hooks up with your FM tuner to pump the V12’s sports-tuned exhaust roar through your car’s speakers.
It reacts to throttle inputs, giving an authentic audio experience for wannabe prancing horse pilots – whatever they’re driving. It’s not perfect, but makes a great gift for the car geek in your life – or even as a treatment for men in their 40s who’ve suddenly started using Just For Men hair dye, shaving their nostrils and plunging head-first into a mid-life crisis…
How much: £29.99
Espresso maker for your motor
Anyone who’s ever had to buy coffee from a motorway service station will know what it’s like to be both robbed and poisoned at the same time! However, never again will you be denied the right to feed your caffeine addiction while travelling the UK’s highways and byways.
Meet the A Modo Mio Espressego…a portable capsule-powered coffee machine that brews the perfect espresso wherever you are.
Simply pull over, plug it into your cigarette lighter, add water and within two minutes you’ll be sipping a thermos of aromatic black nectar – right there in your car. The manufacturer offers 10 blends, which can be bought in packs of 16 for £3.89… that’s almost half a cup of lukewarm froth in your local high street emporium. It’s light, compact and highly recommended.
How much: £89.00
Pay-as-you-go GPS tracking device
Worried about having your car stolen – or just a little concerned you might forget where you parked it? This mini GPS tracker could be just the thing.
No expensive or complicated fitment involved, simply magnetically attach it to the underside of your vehicle and get ready to track. Once the purchase price is taken care of, all you’ll need is an active pay-as-you-go SIM card and a smartphone.
Want to know where your car is? Simply send a text to the SIM card number and it’ll reply with an SMS detailing its co-ordinates, vehicle speed, time and date. The device will also include a link to view its current location using Google maps.
Don’t worry about the tracker’s magnetic purchase on the underside of your car, its adhesive properties are equivalent to 50kg – ensuring that even the most determined speed hump or pothole will fail in its mission to shake it off. It’s waterproof and has standby battery power that’s good for up to three weeks, according to the manufacturer. It also has a ‘shock’ sensor, that can be set-up to let you know when the tracker has started to move.
How much: £226.00
Kärcher Chassis Cleaner
Despite what the reality looking out the window might tell you, a quick check of the calendar will, in fact, confirm it’s summer. So, after a long, hard winter it’s time to tackle the grime and give your car its annual spring clean.
However, liberating your vehicle’s chassis from the corrosive effects of road salt is not really what your trusty sponge was designed for.
Enter the Kärcher Chassis cleaner! Simply attach it to your Kärcher pressure washer and slide it beneath your vehicle for high-powered shampoo and rinse.
It can also be used to deliver a layer of protective treatment that will last for six weeks – potentially adding cash to your vehicle when selling and slashing repair bills at MoT time.
How much: £69.99
Portable stove that charges your phone
Heading off on a road trip? Then don’t leave home without this innovative travel stove that, along with not requiring you to carry any flammable fuels, will also charge your phone as it fries your bacon and eggs.
Rather than running on dangerous fuels, such as gas or paraffin, the Biolite Campstove is powered solely by sticks you find lying around.Fan powered jets of air then circulate through the combustion chamber to create the heat you need to cook.
None of the heat is wasted, either – it’s simply converted into electricity to power the fans and as a source of energy for other devices. Plug your phone into the cooker and get a free charge to go with your dinner. Smartphone usability and food – that’s the essential covered, then.
How much: £129.96
Alcosense Digital Breathalyser Lite
We all understand that drinking and driving is unacceptable, but this device can help ensure you don’t drive the next day while still over the limit.
The way our body deals with alcohol varies significantly from person to person, with some remaining over the limit for up to 12 hours – despite imbibing just a couple of drinks. The pocket-sized Alcosense device is one of the best on the market and analyses our breath in the same way as roadside units employed by the police.
Simply plug in a tube, turn it on, wait for the countdown and blow. Keep going until you hear a bleep and wait for your result. It uses the same metrics as the police, so a result of 0.9bac means you’re over the limit. With 17% of all drink-drive prosecutions resulting from ‘morning after’ breath tests, this really is a vital piece of kit for your car.
How much: £39.99
Halfords 4-Way Multi-Socket
With smartphones, iPods, sat-navs and other such devices fighting for power in your car, the Halfords 4-Way Multi-Socket is just the thing to keep your digital pets happy and fed while on the road.
Simply plug it into your cigarette lighter and – as the name hints – let it deliver power to a maximum of four devices.
There’s also a feature to show the status of your car battery.
How much: £12.99
The gadget we’re waiting for… self-cleaning cars
Let’s face it, we’ve all got something better to do on a Sunday morning than get up and wash our cars. Nissan engineers seem to agree, because they’re carrying out tests on a new paint system that repels mud and grime. Watch the video to see just how well it works.