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2009 CES: World's first (in-dash) Internet car radio

Consumer Reports News: January 07, 2009 06:05 PM

Blaupunkt was one of the exhibitors at a pre-CES event last night, giving journalists a look at what it calls the world’s first Internet car radio. Developed with miRoamer, an online Internet radio portal, Blaupunkt’s new products will allow you to listen to thousands of Internet radio stations while driving. In terms of content diversity, this promises to be a viable alternative to satellite radio, without the subscription fee. However, a Bluetooth-enabled phone with a data plan will be necessary to use this feature.

The company showed two prototype models, a single-DIN unit called the Hamburg 600i and a taller, double-DIN unit called the New Jersey 600i. Both let you choose from AM, FM, or internet-radio stations. While there are now ways of listening to Internet radio in the car through a third-party device, these represent the first in-dash units to offer this feature.

When you want to listen to Internet radio, the head unit sets up a Bluetooth connection with a compatible cell phone and begins streaming the signal via the phone’s data feed. You can choose individual stations or browse by genre, location, or mood. Users can customize their Internet radio settings, including presets and favorites, online through the Web site. You can choose from tens of thousands of stations or enter stations of your choosing. But, logically, if there’s no data service in the area in which you’re driving, no Internet radio.

The first Blaupunkt models to offer this feature are expected in the second half of 2009, and will be offered as an original-equipment option in new cars by an undisclosed automaker. The single-DIN unit is estimated to cost about $250 to $300, and the double-DIN, about $350 to $400.

Rik Paul

See all our automotive-related coverage from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), as well as CES coverage from the Electronics team. Learn more about mobile electronics in our complete guide.

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