By on August 13, 2008

This black box causes the crashBy the end of this month, Chrysler will offer EVDO routers (that's for CDMA services Verizon, Sprint and Alltel) for their cars. This for a whopping $499 a pop. And then there's the monthly service fee– which could be as low as $30. Or whatever the major carriers charge (i.e. more like $60 a month). While you can pick up an EVDO computer modem for free at your local cell phone store, when purchasing a new car, a $500 option may not feel expensive. Then again, is Chrysler kidding? It's bad enough when the guy in front of me is trying to pair his Bluetooth headset to the phone while driving. Now he's going to be on G Chat and Facebook? The system might operate only when parked, at which point I'd just go inside whatever Starbucks I'm parked in front of and use their internet for free. Speaking as an incipient lawyer, how Chrysler's in-house counsel signed off on this project, I have no idea. 

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23 Comments on “Chrysler: In-Car Internet Router $499 + Monthly Subscription...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    Or you could just get a similar service from Sprint (which I’ve tried) or AT&T for $60/month and they give you the necessary card for free, so that your passenger can surf while you drive.

    We’ve done that… it can be handy. You can do a MapQuest from wherever you are (lost) to wherever you really wanted to be. We’ve used it to hunt for hotels, meals and attractions while we drive. However, AAA books are easier to use and, for that fee, AAA will tow your Chrysler as often as necessary.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Beverage coolers and Internet Service… Add a urinal, and I’d never leave my Chrysler!

    More lipstick on pigs we don’t need.

  • avatar
    jberger

    Actually,
    The modems at your local cellphone store is usually only free with a new contract and after rebate. They are usually $99 with a $99 rebate. If you already have service and want a new card, it’s a couple of hundred bucks w/o contract.

    $500 For a OEM mounted and certified, cell to wifi hotspot supporting multiple devices is cheap. It’s more than just a modem, it converts EVDO to WiFi so any wifi device can connect and it supports multiple devices at the same time. Pretty slick device and kudo’s to them for actually supporting the next wave of mobile offices.

    I used to spend Monday thru Friday/Saturday in the car, I would have easily paid $500 for quick and easy connectivity that I could share with my team mates while we on the road.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Speaking as someone who’s had mobile Internet for my PDA and my notebook for years through whatever carrier had the fastest connection at the time – the price isn’t too much of an issue here.

    As Justin pointed out, when corporate attorneys dictate (for liability reasons) that some OEM Nav systems disable most of the commands when you’re in motion (uhhh…why can’t my passenger enter an address when I’m moving? I KNOW my car can tell if someone is in the passenger seat!), I can’t imagine this got by any attorney if it gives you ANYTHING the driver might be able to interact with. If it’s only for crap like POI updates, or traffic updates, I suppose that’s okay, though.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    I don’t know about the American market, but in Germany I can get a fine 3.5G flat data rate at about 22€, with a nice router thrown in for free. I was actually thinking about mounting one of them in my car, until I found an app called JoikuSpot that runs on my Nokia phone, making it a WLAN router. (works better for me than bluetooth connections, and iPod touches work)

  • avatar
    polpo

    A few weeks ago, I saw a display for this very unit in the parts/service department of my local Toyota dealer. So, it’s not just limited to Chrysler.

  • avatar
    windswords

    jberger:

    “Actually,
    The modems at your local cellphone store is usually only free with a new contract and after rebate. They are usually $99 with a $99 rebate. If you already have service and want a new card, it’s a couple of hundred bucks w/o contract.

    $500 For a OEM mounted and certified, cell to wifi hotspot supporting multiple devices is cheap. It’s more than just a modem, it converts EVDO to WiFi so any wifi device can connect and it supports multiple devices at the same time. Pretty slick device and kudo’s to them for actually supporting the next wave of mobile offices.”

    He’s right, this is not as bad a deal as it might first appear. You should get more info about it before posting. As for the $500 price, meh, what’s the difference between this and the greatly inflated prices all makers charge for nav systems that you can go purchase at your local Best Buy for $250?

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    WTF is the point of having what will essentailly be a redundant device installed in your automobile when you will most likely already have this ability in your cellphone or wifi equiped laptop.

    The first car radio were installed into the actual car because of the size of the units and the amount of power they consumed, radios in general were NOT portable devices back then. This was before the day of the transitor. Today spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on silly options installed in your car that you can purchase seperately and independantly for far less money makes little sense.

    Just have a look at any of the first gen NAV systems that were offered as options as little as 5 years ago. They simply look old fashion and out of date when compared with even the lowest priced TOM TOM on the market today. Myself and many other will NOT purchase a used car with the dash ruined by tiny a 3.5″ screen with outdated NAV info. The repair/ replacement price is about $2000!

    Consumer computer/ electronic technology advances so fast nowadys that these options are already obsolete and worthless by the time you take delivery of your “new” car.

    I will never understand the idea of checking the box on a $2000 option to equip a $20,000 car when the exact same function can be provided for only $200 dollars at your local Best Buy. You are adding 10% to the price (NOT VALUE) of your car for a device that can be had for only 1% of the car price or a savings of 90% over the price of the option.

    If it can fit in your pocket and go anywhere you can why the hell would you PAY to have it install and locked down into one location? I can remember back in the 1980s when folks used to have to go out to the parking lot to use their carphones!

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I think it’s rather nifty. One more thing to keep the kids from trying to kill each other on road trips.

    You people do remember what a road trip is, right?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @windswords and jberger: But you both overlooked the most important difference between this and a mobile broadband card or USB drive. This is for the car, or wherever I take the big router and have a hard power source, and presumably DC-AC converter. On the other hand, I can take the mobile broadband card anywhere I take my laptop, not just the car or where there's a power outlet.  This may be cheaper, but it really depends and probably isn't. Here's why: First, we're assuming that this is free from contract. I'm doubtful. Second, they haven't yet announced what the data limit is for $29.99. Is it 5gb per month? Or is it limited to a much smaller amount? Third, I'm not sure I see the need to avoid a contract here. With cell phones, sure, because there are always interesting new models. But odds are good that EVDO Rev-A will be around for close to two years. Fourth, even if the hardware and EVDO broadband networking changes, you can pay the ETF and considering the card was free in the first place, I'd think you'd still come out ahead of the $500. Fifth and finally: Is the company offering the service financially stable? Chrysler's not. (if you pay them for the service directly). By paying $500 for this up front, you assume all the risk if this company pulls an Amp'd/Voce/Disney MNVO meltdown. At least if the payments are distributed you don't run the risk of getting creamed.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Brings a whole new meaning to war driving

    Can tailgating for better signal strength be far behind?

  • avatar
    KixStart

    quasimondo: “You people do remember what a road trip is, right?”

    Sure I do. It’s an opportunity for the children to catch up on their reading, if they don’t want to look out the window. And we bring CD’s to enjoy with each other… Weird Al discs are saved for after lunch on the second straight day of driving.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It’s a good marketing idea, and it will probably help to sell a few cars. But as a technology concept, I think that it’s pretty weak.

    This is doomed to go the way of the “car phone,” which is now deader than a doornail because you no longer need hardware in the car in order to use a phone.

    Internet-enabled devices such as laptops and phones don’t need an onboard router in the car in order to make them work. They can use cell phone signals to connect online, and in the future, there will probably be WiMax that can provide an alternative.

    I may be missing it, but unless there is some special sauce gained from having a router in the car, I just don’t see the benefit. Mobile devices already exist and you don’t need to be in a car to use them.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I still don’t understand why this would want to make someone buy a Chrysler. Nifty doo-dads in a crap car don’t all of a sudden make the crap car go away. You still have to drive the junk with the internet inside it.

    Would any of you who thought it was a good idea consider getting a Chrysler now just because you can have this for $500?

    Now if they were going to put this in all the rental fleet cars it might be better for the end user whos forced to rent it.

  • avatar
    jberger

    Justin,

    I’m not sure I followed your first point, the device is a EVDO AP, router and WiFi AP all in one. No need for DC/AC converters, big routers, etc. It’s a single box, rolling hotspot solution.

    I am the target market for this device. I have mobile data service today and do a lot of work on the road. This device is a perfect fit for road warriors who work out of the car more than an office. Heck, I’m sitting in my office for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks. The rest of my work has been on the road.

    It’s a serious convenience factor to have a shareable, wifi based system mounted in the car. You should get a much better signal from this device than a typical laptop card because the device has better antennas, more tx/rx power and can take advantage of the car’s ground plane, which the average laptop cannot.

    I’ve had to cobble together similar systems in the car for adhoc work before and it’s a ton of work to get them up an running, and to keep them running. This is a single box, that allows all of your devices to connect, which is a huge benefit, especially when you have several folks along for the ride.

    Wireless data cards are nice, I’m picking up 5 of them today for a client who needs their Atty’s to work on the road. But cards are tied to specific devices, where this unit is tied to a specific vehicle. If you work out of the same car everyday, it’s a big selling point.

    The device will require a data contract, but $30 a month for a rolling hot spot is not a big deal, I pay more than that today. The initial cost is low enough to fit on most expense accounts too.

    If you don’t see the point, that’s fine, it’s not for everyone. But for folks like myself, it’s a very tempting purchase and as with all technology if it lasts 2-3 years, I’d be thrilled.

  • avatar
    Nopanegain

    Moreover, Internet radio will be a threat to the deal Chrysler has made with Sirius XM to be thier telematics provider. I am surprised they let this fly…

  • avatar

    The Kyocera KR2 (with the addition of an EVDO card from your carrier of choice) fills this same niche, but for under $220 (+ card).

    And, like a portable GPS system, it can be moved from vehicle to vehicle as needed.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Actually, I bet that people will actually buy this, purely for “keeping up with the Joneses” reasons. “Does YOUR car have internet? No. Well mine does. HA!” So perhaps a Chrysler 300 with the heated/cooled cupholders and internet could be a hot item.

    Or not. Because the Chrysler 300 is a passed fad. Thats why sales are tanking.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Justin,

    Your last post has more questions than answers, so how can you render a verdict on this? You simply don’t know enough about it.

    You last paragraph has the answer I think: “Fifth and finally: Is the company offering the service financially stable? Chrysler’s not…you assume all the risk if this company pulls an Amp’d/Voce/Disney MNVO meltdown.”
    OK, so you think they are going bankrupt, fine (is it August yet?). But don’t diss the service itself without knowing the particulars. Hey, maybe Toyota will offer something like this.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    What are some of you guys hyperventilating about? This puts a Wi-Fi hotspot in the car for people who want it and are willing to pay for it. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. Not sure if there’s market for that or not, but making it available hardly merits criticism. And the fact that you can use alternatives to botch together Internet access in the car doesn’t mean no one will want this. Every product out there has alternatives.

    I’m happy to see a bit of creativity from the Detroit-3 for once. It takes time to develop attractive vehicles. This is a little something Chrysler can offer now.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    I agree with the posters above, if this device does what it says it does at the price it says it does it at then it’s quite useful.

    At 500 dollars for car internet plus monthly service fee it’s practically a bargain if you drive enough.

    I mean, have you seen what a Mercedes dealer likes to charge to put a freakin’ bluetooth in your car?

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    Surfing the internet from your vehicle….oh yeah.

    If this van’s a rockin’ don’t bother knockin’ !.

    Bow chicka bow bow.

    Maybe you could upload your own in-car amateur movies onto the internet ?.

  • avatar
    capeplates

    Another distraction for road users – entertain the kids – since when did siblings agree to watch the same TV show never mind choose which website to peruse – a recipe for war on wheels!

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