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August 24, 2017

My First New Car of the Decade

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

I don’t buy new cars often. When I do, I prefer to buy a new car as opposed to a used car. Yes, my father and everyone else told me how dumb that was, but I keep my cars for a long time. So I look at the cost over that period of time, as well as the maintenance costs added to the purchase of a used vehicle.

My Jeep I bought new in 2009. It’s going to be 10 years old soon! Older still was my truck, which I bought new in 2005. These vehicles lack many of the modern conveniences found on new vehicles, features I’ve seen when I get a rental car.

For example, new cars no longer come with CD players. Both my Jeep and Truck have one. The Truck had a 6-disc changer!

Newer cars feature Bluetooth for connecting a phone. They provide hands-free operation. They also come with USB ports. I’ve known of these features, but never had a vehicle of my own with such benefits. Until now!

My new 2017 Dodge RAM 1500, shown in Figure 1, comes with a feature called Uconnect. I’m not sure whether all the features enabled are part of Uconnect, but it’s pretty cool.

Figure 1. My new baby.

First, you must pair your Phone with the car: Activate Bluetooth on the phone, then in the car I had to setup a new device. This process must be done while the car isn’t moving.

Second, you synchronize the phone with the car. (It’s weird for me to write that sentence.) After giving permission for the car to access the phone’s storage, the phone’s address book, call history, and text message list was downloaded to the car. That process really freaked me out, but it worked well.

Third, you use the car as your phone’s input device. So call my son, I pressed the Phone button on the steering wheel and said, “Call Simon Gookin.” The call connected, and soon I was talking to Simon hands-free while driving.

Yeah, I know: This trick isn’t a big deal anymore as most new cars have this feature. But it’s new to me!

Fourth, the car announces text messages. While driving, I received a text message. Uconnect announced the message and tried to pronounce the sender’s name (from my phone’s address book). I tapped the touchscreen (hands-free again) and the car read the message to me. I believe I can even reply via voice if I wanted to.

Fifth, I can also play music from the phone and listen to videos. I just announce to the car what I want to hear and it digs through the phone, finds what I want, and presto!

Again, these tricks aren’t a big deal to people who have new vehicles and use the features. (Well, and who know how it all works, which is another issue. Phones in Cars For Dummies?) Still, it’s pretty impressive to me right now. Yes, my new truck is now the most expensive Android peripheral I own.

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