Vehicle Hard Drives
Turn your car into a moving mini-entertainment unit with a vehicle hard drive. Also known as digital media players, these systems let you take your entire music library and watch TV shows and movies.
There's a lot to choose from. You could have a music jukebox mounted in your trunk, an in-dash stereo with a recordable hard drive, or a complete in-car entertainment system with enough audio and video to make any couch potato envious.
Note that GPS navigation systems, which contain hard drives for their software, are covered in a related article.
Vehicle hard drives aren't your dad's data-storage devices. They're built more rugged than home computer system hard drives, and are built by venerable manufacturers such as Seagate, Toshiba, and Delphi to withstand extreme heat and cold, as well as constant vibration from the road.
Dedicated Media Storage
If you're happy with your current car stereo, but want to also listen to music from your computer (MP3s and music ripped for your CD collection, for example), then an in-trunk hard drive is for you. PhatNoise makes one that sell for between $200 and $700. This is a trunk-mounted drive with a removable 20GB DMS cartridge. While this doesn't sound like much, it's enough to hold about 4,000 four-minute songs―nearly 270 hours of music.
To download your music files from your computer, it comes with a USB cradle. Download, pop the cartridge back into the unit in your car's trunk, and you're good to go. The unit's connected to your stereo so you can access playlists and songs from the dash. Even better, the included Voice Indexing technology helps you browse by reading genre, album, artist, and playlist names to you aloud.
Integrated Stereo and Hard Drive
If you plan to replace your stereo anyway, then a stereo with a hard drive for digital media storage might be for you. These start at $120 plus installation. They take up less space and the interface is more elegant.
If you opt to forgo either of these options in favor of using your existing iPod as your vehicle's portable hard drive, check out our iPod technology article.
DVD Entertainment Systems
Those who want digital video entertainment on the road as well as digital audio can spring for a full A/V entertainment system in their vehicle. In addition to the hard drive for music, downloaded TV shows, and GPS navigation software, these systems include seat-back or ceiling LCD screens so the kids can watch TV or DVDs instead of asking every five minutes whether you're there yet. Some auto manufacturers offer this option built into their luxury cars.
For $600 to $2,400, you can also purchase one separately, such as a full-featured unit from Eclipse's AVN HDD series.
As with any automotive accessory, it's worth spending a few hours to research options and models online, which is where you'll probably find the best prices too.
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- MyGig Turns Drivers On to Hard Disk Capacity: Ars Technica reports that DaimlerChrysler's MyGig car stereo add-on does practically everything.
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