Reviews of the IpodMiniCooperAccessory:

I just got the new iPod automobile control system last week. It seems to work OK, but you really have to do a bit of messing around to make it practical. Also, you can't use it with a manual transmission, you have to get the automatic. I didn't get the expert-driver modification; the downloads for the different drivers all cost way too much.

First off, the default control system is pretty cumbersome. I suppose they wanted you to be able to continue using the song controls while you drove, but this ... When you plug it in, the iPod control defaults to steering. That is, when you move your finger around the touchpad in a circle, the car turns left and right. However, if you want to do anything else, you have to push the button in the middle, and then suddenly you can't steer, and moving your finger clockwise and counterclockwise adjusts the cruise control setting faster and slower. Push it again, and you start opening and closing the windows. The third push switches to brightening and dimming your headlights. You have to push it four times to get back to steering.

Fortunately, a couple people online have made some hacks for the machine that make the system more practical. If you download the 'rogue-like_commands' patch, then it lets you use the fast-forward and fast-backward keys to increase and decrease the cruise control setting by increments of 10 mph. The touchpad circle then is only used for the steering, and the central button switches the windows between all the way down and all the way up. The play-pause key is used for the headlights. The patch also removes a potential safety hazard in the 'hold' switch on the top; in the default configuration, if the hold switch is flipped, none of the keys respond even if you're driving.

I happen to have the third-generation iPod, instead of the fourth, so I actually use a third configuration, the 'nethack_commands' version. Once again, in this setup, only the menu key retains its original use, and all other keys are assigned specific functions. The wheel continues to be controlled by the wheel; the fast-forward key presses the accelerator; the fast-backwards key presses the brakes; the play-pause key cycles between low-beams, high-beams, and off for the headlights; and the central button applies the hand brake. This variation lets you control the car like in a video game, making it fairly easy to do high-speed maneuvers. However, people with the fourth-generation iPod can't use this configuration because they don't have separate buttons for fast-forward, fast-backwards, and play-pause.

All in all, I'd say it was a good deal. I've had a lot of fun with it. You'll see me driving with this all around town as soon as my license is restored.

reviewed by RadRob


(correlates: IpodMiniCooperAccessory, Comments on Where Was God, EaseOfUse, ...)