Zubie tracks your car, rates your driving

The latest cars often come with telematics services that let you monitor maintenance and location from a smartphone app. The Zubie Connected Car Service lets you retrofit an older car with many of these capabilities.

Zubie consists of a "Key" that plugs into a car's OBD-II port, something you will find on every car built from 1996 on, and an associated smartphone app. The Key scans the car's internal data, and includes a GPS chip and mobile data connection.

The Key beams its data up to the Zubie mothership, which in turn makes it accessible to … Read more

Oregon Scientific ATC Chameleon action cam is fun, but flawed

The concept of the Oregon Scientific ATC Chameleon is certainly a good one.

Creating a compelling action cam video is easier -- not necessary, but easier -- when you have two cameras shooting a subject from two different angles. That, of course, requires buying two cameras and possibly mounts or other accessories for those cameras. And then you'll need some basic video-editing skills to combine what's captured, especially if you want to throw both camera views in the video at the same time.

The Chameleon, however, puts two cameras in one body. Each camera can be rotated 180 … Read more

Pricey Ultima smartphone holder looks good, lacks flexibility

Watches range from Casio to Rolex, but the set of smartphone mounts available for the car has tended toward the lower end. Now, Australian company NKMOS is offering a smartphone mount for those with money to burn. Call it the Rolex of mounts.

The Ultima In-Car Universal Smartphone Holder is a finely crafted piece of gear designed to hold a smartphone to your dashboard or windshield.

The mount consists of a plastic suction cup with a clever twisting lever to create a vacuum, a short aluminum arm, and a spring-loaded aluminum clamp.

The example I looked at was finished in … Read more

The Satechi CD Slot Mount makes car CD players useful once again

If you use a smartphone in the car, your CD player probably doesn't get much use anymore. The Satechi CD Slot Mount makes use of that legacy feature to hold your smartphone in an easily accessible and viewable spot.

This Satechi mount consists of a fat plastic base in matte black, a two-inch arm on a vertical hinge, and a smartphone clamp, in glossy black, mounted on a ball joint. Rubber fins, meant to stick into the CD player, extend from the base.

To lock the mount into the CD slot, Satechi includes a lever on the base that … Read more

Drift Ghost-S is an excellent all-in-one action cam

Drift Innovation already had a good thing going with its Drift HD Ghost action cam. So perhaps it's best that its newest camera, the Ghost-S, concentrates on performance enhancements.

The Ghost-S uses the same design as the HD Ghost. The camera measures 1.3 inches wide by 2 inches high by 4.1 inches deep and weighs 5.9 ounces. Strapped to the side of a helmet or pair of goggles, you won't exactly forget it's there, but it's not overly big, either.

The bullet-shaped body is waterproof down to 9 feet (a waterproof housing is … Read more

2013 Car Tech Awards: And the winner is...

CNET Tech Car of the Year for 2013

2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 It came, we saw, and it conquered. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 shows forward thinking in every aspect of its being, and highlights the kind of technical advancement that gave the world adaptive cruise control. The new S-Class is everything Mercedes-Benz needed it to be to stay at the forefront of luxury sedans, but what really swayed us was its near-self-driving capability. Its advanced adaptive cruise control system works in stop-and-go traffic, and Mercedes-Benz added the new steering-assist system, which can drive the car hands- and feet-free in slow traffic. The rollout of these types of technologies is what will ultimately lead us to fully self-driving cars.

Other technical achievements include a powerful V-8 engine making use of direct injection and turbochargers, a comfortable air suspension, and one of the least annoying idle-stop features extant. The fact that the new S-Class does away with incandescent lighting completely in favor of LEDs is another step forward. A 3G data connection comes built into the car, and Mercedes-Benz has begun to bring well-known apps on board. The Burmester audio system is audiophile-quality, and topping the whole thing off is a built-in aromatherapy system.… Read more

Batman Tumbler golf cart for sale: Bring justice to the links

When Christian Bale roared down the road for the first time in the Tumbler, an aggressively revamped Batmobile, fans got giddy at the sheer size, heft, and sound of the beastly vehicle. You can capture just a hint of that feeling with a custom-made, slightly-less-intimidating Tumbler golf cart.

The cart is up on eBay with a buy-it-now price of $17,500, though seller rayshollywood is entertaining offers as well. The mini-Tumbler started life as an EZ-Go golf cart that was torn down to its frame and cup holders before the rebuild. A lot of work, sheet metal, and $30,000 later, it was reborn as the Bat-themed Tumbler golf cart. The miniature Tumbler, which has gotten some use on the Warner Bros. studio lot, even has the same style of Super Swamper tires as the big boy.… Read more

Steelie magnetically mounts smartphones in cars

Smartphone mounts in cars tend to follow a uniform style, a suction cup attached to a clamp or cradle with a mounting arm. But the Steelie mounting kit comes out with a completely unique look, using a magnet for minimal cabin impact.

The mounting base of the Steelie kit is a 1-inch silver metal ball cradled in a plastic holder. The flat end of the plastic comes covered in adhesive, so it can be stuck anywhere on a car's dashboard. The silver metal makes the base an odd addition to a dashboard, but its small size makes it unobtrusive.… Read more

GoPro upgrades sports camera line with Hero3+ models

With mobile phones gobbling up much of what used to be the camera market, it's hard to imagine that a new company could find a niche. But that's exactly what GoPro has done.

On Tuesday, it announced its Hero3+ upgrade to its line of compact, durable videocameras that customers attach to cars, surfboards, quadcopters, birds, and bike helmets.

GoPro introduced the Hero3 in 2012, bringing Wi-Fi support that made it easier to use cameras that don't necessarily have an LCD. The Hero3+ adds improvements to performance image quality, GoPro said.

According to the company, the top-end $400 … Read more

Unsightly iOauto mount grips smartphones with magnetic force

An important attribute of any smartphone mount for your car is how easily you can attach and detach the phone. iOmounts attempts to solve this issue by using a magnet in its new iOauto phone mount.

One problem: the iOauto mount's magnet is almost too powerful.

For the in-vehicle iOauto mount, iOmounts partnered with ProClip, a company that has been making device mounts to fit in cars for decades, and has many products customized for specific vehicles. Although iOmounts sent me an example of the iOauto attached to a suction cup mount, this magnetic phone holder can fit the … Read more