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Driving distracted

John Day

John Day

Posted Oct 16, 2009

A lot is being said these days about distracted driving, including the contention that engaging in a hands-free phone conversation is just as bad as holding the phone to one’s ear. Apparently the danger comes from the conversation itself; not from the technology involved. It does seem to me that two hands are better than one, and that some conversations are more compelling than others, but I will have to take the word of those who research such things that even hands-free phone conversations are not good things to have in a car.

Texting isn’t good either, nor is reading email, eating, various forms of personal grooming, eye contact with front seat passengers – the list goes on. But what about watching television while driving? Here in the U.S., the technical term “no brainer” might apply, but not so in Europe and Asia. Faced with  increasingly stiff competition from smartphones, makers of portable navigation devices are looking for ways to add value, and mobile TV might be one of them.

In Italy, Garmin offers the  nüvi 900T, co-branded with wireless carrier 3 Italia and  including DVB-H mobile television content from 3 Italia’s mobile TV provider, La3TV. The PND is clearly intended for use in a car, since it comes with a lifetime traffic subscription. Another PND vendor, Mio, offers the Moov V500 and V700 with 4.7-inch and 8-inch screens respectively. I’ll take the larger one so I won’t have to squint.

Mio noted in its announcement, “…people look for navigation devices to provide, not only excellent navigation features, but also entertainment capabilities that can bring more fun and laughter to everyone in the car.” Presumably that includes the driver, and to erase any lingering doubt, Mio asks, “When your passengers sleep as you drive, do you feel lonely?”

La3TV, Mio, Garmin, Portable Navigation Device (PND)

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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