Tech Time: Car Stereo Features

It’s not uncommon to see a broken down old car with a kicking stereo in Jamaica. Jamaican’s love music and will install the best stereo that their money can buy. Yesterday, it was all about sound quality; stereo enthusiasts looked at nominal impedance levels, frequency response and dynamic peak power. Features like a digital clock, remote control, anti-skip mechanism, EQ pre-sets and controls for bass, treble, balance and fader were common.

But today, car stereos are held to a new standard, they are expected to do much more! AM/FM receivers are joined by satellite and HD radio receivers on many new car stereo models. Higher end models also boast multi-media and DVD playback, while iOS integration along with RCA, USB, AUX and SD Card inputs are increasingly common.

As for control, remote controls and steering wheel controls compete with touch screen interfaces for true mastery of the stereos. Then, there is voice control. Several new car stereo models utilize voice commands to navigate everything from basic controls, to song selection.

Voice control also facilitates hands-free communication where the stereo is paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth®. Taking is a step further, Bluetooth® streaming also allows the users to wirelessly stream songs, podcasts and other audio from the owners phone to the car stereo for a rich listening experience.

The word “stereo” is still used to describe what amounts to an entertainment, communication and information centre. Yet a modern car “stereo” can also facilitate the feed from a rear-view camera.

Really, car stereos are mini-computers sometimes even with their own hard drive and Internet access. In addition to storing media files on the included hard drive, often the hard drive contains navigation data for GPS while 3G Internet access bring a wealth of other services such as real time Facebook status updates.

Of course checking you Facebook status while driving can prove dangerous, so new car stereos have safety features that lock out attention hogging activities while the car is in motion. In order to achieve this level of safety and functionality, modern day car stereos should be installed by a professional who can tap into the car’s parking break sensor, vehicle speed pulse sensor and reverse light power lead, can mount a microphone and GPS antenna and make all other necessary connections.

With so many features, there are plethora of design options and brands from which to choose. Stereos may be single or double din in dash or external, have colour touch screen interfaces with high-resolution monitors and motorised faceplates. Pioneer, Alpine, Kenwood, Sony, Pyramid and Boss Audio are some of the popular brands.

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