Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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Larry's Tech Talk

Meet George Jetson

Remember the Jetsons! I really loved that old cartoon show. There was George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and the dog, Astro. Jane cooked by pushing a few buttons, kind of like we use microwave ovens now. And George went to work in that really cool flying car. Whether we’re commuting to work, running errands, or working, most of us spend a lot of time in our vehicles, just like George Jetson. I wonder what kind of electronics George would have had in that flying bubble car?

Back in the day AM radios were offered as an option from the automobile manufacturers. Now we have AM/FM/XM radios with iPod jacks. There might be a multi-disc CD player in the trunk. How about a built-in GPS, aka Navigation System? Touchscreen sound systems, surround sound and video monitors that drop down from the ceiling or are mounted in the headrests are fairly commonplace. All the kids in the neighborhood watch DVDs while riding in the car. Then there is that backup camera in SUVs when they are in reverse. There are Lo-Jack security systems for locating stolen vehicles. You might call them “creature comforts” or whatever, but make no mistake electronics have invaded our vehicles!

Built-in cell phones were nice, but with portable cell phones, who needs them? GM has its very successful OnStar service. OnStar provides various services for emergencies, security, navigation and even hands free calling. Yes, GM is in the cellular telephone business!

What else could they possibly put in our cars? How about the internet? C’mon Man, really, the internet? Yes, dude, I said the internet! GM has announced that seven Chevrolet models will offer an internet ”hotspot” device and service. Yes, your car could have the ability to be an Internet Service Provider (ISP). GM claims that the service will enable PDAs, computers and similar devices to connect to the internet via WiFi up to 150 feet away.

What would you do with an ISP capable vehicle? Connect to the internet of course! Your kids will never need another disc to watch because you could download a movie to your car. Online music services like Pandora and Slacker will take market share away from FM radio. Of course you should park before checking email or searching Google. I know you can do a lot of those things now with your PDA or iPad on the 3G network. But, companies are always looking for new revenue streams and now it looks like GM wants to be in the Internet business.

That means another monthly bill to pay. GM announced that pricing starts at $29 for 3G performance and a 1GB data plan. Ford has a similar product and even offers an in-dash personal computer option as part of its Work Solutions package.

I am sure that I am only scratching the surface for possible applications. But it looks more and more like everything is utilizing the internet, and now that includes our automobiles. A contractor could Skype a customer, check a supplier’s pricing and inventory or search for information at a jobsite. When you are separated from your car or truck you could check on it’s location from anywhere. You might even see live video if the vehicle had an internet camera onboard. It is getting difficult to hide in this world! Maybe your car could send you an email if it were moved or violated in some way. Hey who is that in the driver’s seat? Electronics are part of our lives and automobile manufacturers are not going to be left out.

Entertainment, business, security and even law enforcement are just a few industries that have benefited from mobile electronics. And now we have a mobile ISP.

Remember at the end of the show George would walk Astro on the treadmill? “JANE, STOP THIS CRAZY THING!”