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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2011 / 10 Elul, 5771

GM's $300 OnStar mirror reflects poor tech grasp

By Mark Kellner



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The General Motors Company, in the form of its OnStar LLC subsidiary, would like you to hie yourself to your nearest BestBuy and plunk down $300 for a new rear-view mirror for your car.

No, this isn't a sneaky grab at another bailout, but rather the distilled marketing premise of the recently launched OnStar FMV ("For My Vehicle"), an enhanced rear-view mirror that offers many - but not all - of the services the OnStar product installed in millions of GM cars offer.

OnStar's premise is to offer a one-button way to contact an "advisor," who can supply directions, help locate nearby businesses or, in the case of a crash or medical emergency, summon help. On GM models, the service also offers a way to track and immobilize stolen vehicles; on some it will also start your car or unlock it. It can also tell if a GM car's airbags have been deployed in a crash. The latter GM-only features aren't part of the FMV offering.

The OnStar FMV product brings many of these functions to non-GM car models. Most cars on the road today can be retrofitted with an OnStar FMV device, the firm says. Because it ties in to a car's electrical system, however, this is not a job for the weekend hobbyist, but rather it requires professional installation. (BestBuy adds $75 to the basic price when selling the product on its Website to cover this.)

At the heart of the OnStar FMV is a small cell phone tucked into the mirror housing. It, plus an accelerometer, a Bluetooth wireless link and some control buttons, are the "guts" of the unit. A small microphone is also mounted in the car along with the mirror, this is for communicating with OnStar and for hands-free calling.

I've been intrigued by the OnStar product for a while - their ads are frequently on satellite radio - and to test it out, GM provided a Toyota Camry with the device installed. Over the course of four days, I learned a lot.

OnStar has been in existence for 15 years on GM models, and the OnStar FMV hews pretty much to the standard product. The accelerometer will detect if your car has crashed and call an OnStar employee, dubbed an "advisor," to have them ask if you're all right. If you can't respond, they'll send help regardless; the unit can send your location data to the firm.

A basic OnStar subscription, including emergency response, hands-free calling, and vehicle security/roadside assistance, is $199 a year, paid up front, or just under $19 a month. (The hands-free calling either taps into your cell phone via Bluetooth or requires the purchase of minutes, at a cost higher than most cell plans.) Add turn-by-turn directions and other navigational aid and the monthly service charge brushes up against $29 a month, or $299 a year when paid in full.

I'd like to say this is a product without flaws, and that the full-featured service is worth the price -- as some other reviewers have -- but I can't. Five years ago, OnStar FMV would have been a breakthrough product. Today, OnStar FMV reflects a poor grasp of automotive and smartphone technologies.

The product connects to the car's electrical system, but it won't "dim," or lower, the audio of your car radio/CD-player when directions are being spoken or you get a hands-free call. Other Bluetooth integrations - such as the Pioneer aftermarket car stereo in my 2009 Honda CRV or the built-in Bluetooth in my wife's 2011 Kia Soul - automatically cut the radio when a call comes in. An OnStar spokesman claims this isn't an issue for most users and they'll contemplate adding the "dimming" feature in future releases.

Pressing the blue OnStar button should elicit an immediate response; in reality, my calls took as long as 25 to 30 seconds to complete. Now, I didn't crash the car to see how that response would work, but response did seem sluggish. OnStar's Stefan Cross said the test unit was linked to a "special events team," and that regular customers reach an advisor in 10 seconds; and just one second if there's a crash.

Finally, on Saturday night, OnStar just couldn't download the audio directions from my home to a restaurant six miles away in Laurel. Instead, the Map application on my Apple iPhone 4 found the address and got me going while OnStar was struggling. Mr. Cross said this was a rarity, but it was frustrating nonetheless. When directions to other locations worked, they were good, and it was nice to have the verbal cues.

As mentioned, this would have been a great product in 2006. The crash response thing is important, and if I had a teenager at home or at college, I wouldn't let them drive a car without this. But I don't have a teenager, and I've got Bluetooth, a phone with GPS and supporting turn-by-turn software, and AAA roadside assistance. That's not everything OnStar FMV offers, but it also doesn't ask me to pay an additional $675 or so in the first year.

OnStar needs to fine-tune its audio integration, at the very least, to make this a more compelling product. Otherwise, keep driving along and put your money to better use.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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© 2011, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com

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