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Chicago Auto Show Blog

It's SYNC or sink...

Posted by: Jackie Carey

Not to get all philosophical on a Thursday, but sometimes life forces us into action.  Really, we can’t have our cake and eat it too.  When that mean lady at the post office gives us the eye, our instincts kick in and we think: fight or flight? (Flight!) And when we find ourselves in over our heads facing new challenges, really, we can either sink or we can swim on and rise to the occasion.  Actually, for the auto manufacturers of the U.S., I guess really, the choice is more like SYNC or sink.  

A few years ago, Ford launched its new in-car connectivity system that gave drivers the ability to access mobile devices and driver assistance using just their voice.  With SYNC technology, Ford created a new wave of in-demand features that helped integrate our increasingly mobile lifestyles with vehicle design. Naturally, matching the ease and functionally of SYNC is high on the list of manufacturers.  

So today’s news from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, while very exciting, should really come as no surprise. Both Toyota and Hyundai have launched programs meant to rival Ford’s SYNC. These programs—Entune from Toyota and Blue Link from Hyundai—are great news for those of us who struggle to keep our hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while our phones, mp3 players and GPS navigators are just begging for our attention.

Entune, according to Toyota, leverages the customer’s mobile phone to create a rich in-vehicle experience that offers fully integrated and upgradeable entertainment, navigation and information services.  In fact, by using conversational voice recognition and in-vehicle controls, drivers can expect to stay safer and have a fun batch of new features to play with. 

EnTune   Ready

Straight from the horse’s mouth, Toyota Entune will be available as an option on select models this year. The featured apps of Toyota Entune include:  Bing, iheartradio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable.com, and Pandora, as well as location-based services, such as personalized traffic, fuel prices, stocks, weather, and sports.  Toyota Entune also includes support for read-back and replay capabilities for text messages.  These are combined with a fully featured entertainment and communication system, which includes XM radio, HD Radio, CD player, USB connectivity, Bluetooth streaming and phonebook.  A high quality JBL sound system is available as an option as well.

Similarly, Hyundai is set to challenge the conventional wisdom in the auto category with Blue Link, its all-new telematics platform.  Hyundai’s in-vehicle infotainment system makes new, thoughtful features, enhanced ease-of-use and intelligent packaging options more accessible.  

According to Barry Ratzlaff, director of customer satisfaction and service business development at Hyundai Motor America, "We've studied how drivers rely on smart phones and navigation systems as a link to the outside world. Blue Link brings that connectivity to the car with technology like voice texting and POI download, turn-by-turn navigation, and vehicle health reporting. In typical Hyundai fashion, we've developed package options that are both thoughtful and cost-effective."  

Blue Link   Ready

Look for Blue Link this spring on the popular Sonata sedan (standard).  Hyundai, while expecting Blue Link to be available across a majority of models by 2013, will also announce a second Blue-Link equipped, youth-focused model shortly—to be available to consumers before summer.  

And, wait! More good news!  You don’t have to start saving up your pennies before you can get into a Hyundai or Toyota to try out all this new technology.  Stop by the Chicago Auto Show in February—both Entune and Blue Link will be available on display vehicles for you to test out.  In fact, I suggest stopping by our Facebook page once in while.  We’ve been know to give away a ticket or two… 

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