On the Road Again

Transit Tools

Yes, we know trying to run a business while driving amounts to a dangerous distraction, but who doesn't use their car as a mobile office?

The Telematics Research Group predicts hands-free interface kits with Bluetooth and radio integration will be included in 11.3 percent of the cars sold in 2007, growing to 34.9 percent of car sales by 2010. TRG estimates that dedicated iPod interfaces will be included in 13.9 percent of cars sold in 2007, climbing to 40.4 percent by 2010.

"Both will be an overwhelming trend," says Egil Juliussen, principal analyst for TRG in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Typically, you can expect to pay an extra $250 to $300 for this hands-free technology, which should keep you on the right side of the law in states like New Jersey and New York, where holding a cell phone while driving is illegal.

Do you rent cars frequently? You could opt for something like the MV900 wireless portable speakerphone from Mvox, which works with mobile phones like the Treo 650 and the Treo 700w and includes a notebook adapter so you can use it with voice services such as Skype or Google Talk. The unit is controlled with voice commands and includes patented echo cancellation and noise suppression technology. At roughly $130 (street), the device measures 3.4 inches by 2.2 inches by 0.8 inches and weighs about 2.5 ounces. The manufacturer claims a talk time of four hours with 200 hours of standby.

Once you've got your hands freed up, you can make more out of your drive time with a service like Electronic Virtual Assistant from Virtual Management. EVA, which costs $69 per month, lets you call a toll-free number and dictate action items, schedule changes and meeting notes. The recorded information is converted, and the data can later be accessed through an internet browser.

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Dying to watch your local sports team while you're out of town? Craving the new episode of Lost you saved to your DVR while traveling to your latest meeting?

Blue Pixel president Alex Stevens, 34, who created and manages the company's JustShowMeHowTo.com website, doesn't let distance--or screen size--stop him. He frequently uses his Motorola Q mobile phone to retrieve video from his home or listen to satellite radio. To call up video files, Stevens uses Verizon broadband wireless services to connect to his Slingbox, a $200 (street) gadget from Sling Media Inc. that hooks up to your TV or DVR with the help of an internet router. "One of the nice things about the Q is the ability to consume media," he says, pointing to both its sharp screen and broadband connectivity options. You can also watch Slingbox-streamed video on Windows notebooks. A Macintosh edition is due out before year-end.

Orb Networks offers a similar product in the form of software that lets you access your home music collection, video stored on your DVR, podcasts and photos. You download free software to a computer stationed at home and can pretty much use any mobile device for retrieval. Because Orb doesn't connect to your TV, you have to install a video tuner card for your home PC that costs roughly $100 to stream the video to your mobile device, and you'll need to leave the base station PC on all the time.

Also check out the TiVoToGo service that transfers DVR content to a notebook or Windows mobile device. Third-party software can be used to transfer TiVo programs to Video iPods or Sony PSPs. Sony's LocationFree gadgets can also stream video to PSPs.

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This article was originally published in the November 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: On the Road Again.

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