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Many people rely on their phones for navigation, listening to music and taking calls while on the move. It’s important all these things are set up before you start your journey, to ensure you’re not in breach of the law.
Your best bet is to get a car mount or holder, which will ensure you can use your phone hands-free. The good news is that there are plenty of options out there, with most supporting a wide range of modern smartphones.
Here are our favourites, including magnetic, air vent-loaded, suction cups and more.
Totallee Car Charger
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Totallee are building a strong reputation for their solid phone cases, and it seems they’re equally adept at car mounts.
This is a car holder and fast wireless charger all rolled into one, supporting speeds of up to 10W. Any device capable of the Qi standard will work here.
The holder securely attaches to your car’s air vents, and its design means the viewing angle of your device can be adjusted by 360º.
Once you plug the cable into the back of the case, simply drop your phone onto the pad and it will automatically closed to secure it in place, starting the charging process. To release, just tap the side of the mount and it will instantly open up again.
Moshi SnapTo Universal Car Mount
Moshi is another brand that specializes in all sorts of mobile accessories. The SnapTo Univesal Car Mount is similar to Totallee’s, in that it combines a 10W fast wireless charger, but it uses a magnetic backplate, called the “SnapTo tab”, to keep your phone in place.
The mount comes with the SnapTo tab, though you don’t need it if you already have a SnapTo case.
What we liked about Moshi’s Universal mount is that it’s versatile. You can either use the adhesive suction cup attachment to stick it onto your dashboard or windscreen, or you can clip the mount directly onto your air vent.
The mount also pivots 360-degrees on a metal ball, so you can rotate your phone whichever way you wish. The only issue we had was that the ball takes a bit of effort to actually rotate.
This isn’t necessarily a drawback, as you wouldn’t want the pivot to be so loose that your phone starts drooping mid-journey. The mount can support up to 1kg, after all. Just be sure to position the phone to the angle you want beforehand.
The mount is backed with Moshi’s 10-year warranty. Pick up the Moshi SnapTo Universal mount directly from Moshi for £79.95, or from Amazon where it’s cheaper (£49.95/US$49.95)
Yosh Magnetic Phone Car Mount
The Yosh Magnetic Car might cost less than £10/US$10, but it sure is powerful – thanks to the heavy duty neodymium magnet. This magnet has a strength rating of N50, making it one of the strongest around.
The Yosh mount works in two parts. One part is a stainless steel frame that slots into the horizontal or vertical air vent, with the circular magnet facing outwards. Keep in mind this mount does not work with circular vents.
The other is an adhesive metal plate that goes onto the back of your phone, or within your phone case. Once the plate is attached to your phone, your phone should secure onto the mount right away. The magnetic design allows easy 360- degree rotation of your phone without any structural clutter.
The only possible drawback is that the adhesive on magnet might be hard to remove from your phone afterwards. We haven’t tested this for ourselves though.
Yosh also offers a lifetime warranty.
Belkin Car Vent Mount
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If you just want a simple mount that works extremely well then Belkin’s Vent Mount is a great choice at a reasonable price.
Suction cup mounts allow you to place your phone almost anywhere but they can sometimes be unreliable, falling off over time. A vent mount won’t do this and we really like Belkin’s simple but effective design.
You only need to choose a vent to put it on and the mount has two sizes for the grip depending on how thick the plastic is. At the back is a clever clips so you can keep a cable handy. The vent mount also rotates so you can quickly switch between portrait and landscape depending on the app you’re using.
We’ve found the mount grips nicely and you can also use your phone with the case on. If you feel like it, the device also comes in a premium version that has leather padding (£24.99/US29.95).
Choetech Fast Wireless Car Charger Mount
If you’re using your phone for navigation the last thing you need is for the battery to run out half way around the M25. While you can plug in the phone itself to avoid this, Choetech has come up with an alternative that lets you direct power through the car mount instead. And that means less hassle when you jump out at a service station or your final destination as you scramble to disconnect wires.
Naturally the Fast Wireless Car Charger Mount will work only with phones that support the Qi wireless charging standard, but even if your phone does not support this it’s a handy gadget to leave in the car. It uses a ball joint to achieve positioning at any angle, and clips on to an air vent so there’s no need to obstruct your view of the road.
The clamp is adjustable, allowing you to cradle a phone that is between 65- and 90mm in width. Height is unrestricted. You will find a Micro-USB cable in the box, though you’ll need to supply your own car charger into which you can attach this.
The Choetech offers wireless charging up to 10W, but to achieve this the car charger will also have to support 10W. It can also output 5W or 7.5W, making it suitable for whichever smartphone you have to hand.
Pitaka MagMount Qi
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For a while, we wondered why car mounts didn’t offer wireless charging but that’s a thing of the past. No longer do you have to faff around with plugging (and unplugging) a cable into your phone when you get in and out of your car.
With the Pitaka MagMount Qi, you can simply get in, attach your phone to the mount via magnets and away you go – safe in the knowledge that it’s also charging.
It works best with the Pitaka MagCase (except the MagCases for S9 and S9 Plus) which you would need to buy separately. The MagCases come with a metal plate integrated into its back.
The magnet does a great job of holding onto your phone and the ball joint gives a decent amount of adjustment. You just need to plug the mount into your car’s 12v socket with it’s MicroUSB port and you can just leave it ready to go.
The MagMount is available three styles: the suction cup, vent mount and CD slot mount. Those same styles are available without wireless charging too (£14.29), so you can choose which one suits your car the best.
vent mount, suction cup and CD slot options (all US$15.99).
Mpow Windshield Car Phone Hold
If you’re wary of having a magnet anywhere near your phone, you could opt for the windscreen mount from Mpow instead.
The mount locks onto your windscreen using a suction cup and features a 10-inch, flexible arm that gains additional support from a foam dashboard rest.
You can also rotate your phone 360-degrees with this mount by pressing a release button. We like that the cradle also adds additional protection for your phone, almost like a rugged case, as its made of a shock-absorbing sponge.
Arteck Universal Phone Car Mount
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The Arteck Universal mount is another option that can lock onto your windscreen. Unlike Mpow’s mount, Arteck does not have the arm extension, which makes it more compact.
The only detractor is that your phone may be slight farther away from you if you mount it on the windshield – however, the sticky 3M gel pad lets your mount the holder onto your dashboard for a closer view.
The mount allows 360-degree rotation as well and is compatible with phone screen sizes ranging from 2.3 inches to 3.5 inches.
Wuteku Magnetic Car Phone Holder
This car phone mount combines the best of magnetic and dash mount designs in a compact and elegant design.
Like the Yosh mount, the Wuteku mount also features the strength of a neodymium magnet and a metal plate that attaches behind your phone. Instead of slotting into your car vent, howver, the Wuteku mount secures onto your dash with a heat-resistant 3M adhesive.
What’s unique about this mount is that it pivots on a stainless steel ball allowing full 720-degree rotation. The Wuteku mount can also be used on motorcycles.
Mpow CD Slot Phone Holder
Last but not least is the CD slot mount from Mpow. It may be self-explanatory, but this mount stays secure by sliding into the CD drive. This is a good option if you want to keep your air vent free and clear. Also…who really needs a CD player these days?
The mount is compatible with phones and devices up to 5.5 inches in screen size and also fully rotatable.
In the US, a slightly different version is available for US$32.99.
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Apple Car Project Titan
Recently, Reuters quoted sources as reporting that the Apple Car plan is still ongoing, and Apple aims to start mass production of its own brand cars in 2024. Moreover, the source claim it will use a new generation of batteries that take into account power saving and safety.
The Apple car is developed under Project Titan. This project was launched in 2014. Apple hopes to enter the automobile manufacturing industry when the growth of consumer electronics gradually slows down. Apple originally hoped to launch the first car in early 2023. Project Titan has successively undergone team changes and complex parts supply chain, causing time delays. In 2023, the direction of the project was changed from self-manufactured vehicles to self-driving systems.
Also Read: Apple Car To Come In 2023, Two Years Ahead Of The Original Schedule
Commander Project Titan kept changing roles during this period. The latest report pointed out that the person in charge for the skillet after Apple switched to 2023 Tesla Doug Field, under his leading, in early 2023 the project laid off plan managers, engineers and product designers, and other 190 workers. Now, it’s reported that the project is going well.Apple’s Goal
Another source said that Project Titan’s strategic focus is on a new battery design. It should use a unique monocell design. The latter will reduce the number of battery modules and films, thereby freeing up more battery internal space for storage. Incorporating more active materials will not only significantly reduce battery costs, but also effectively increase driving distance. In addition, Apple is also studying lithium iron phosphate batteries (LFP). They are less prone to overheating. Thus, they should to be safer than other lithium batteries. The source pointed out that it’s the next-generation battery, which will brighten the eyes of the world.
In response to the lithium iron phosphate battery, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pointed out via Twitter on Tuesday that Tesla’s Shanghai plant has now been used to produce mid-range vehicles. He also pointed out that the report claiming the design of a monocell is unlikely to be achieved electrochemically.Making Apple Car May Take Longer
Not that long ago, Bloomberg quoted sources as reporting that Apple Car may be five to seven years away from its actual launch.
Bloomberg reported that Apple’s Project Titan has indeed expanded from a purely self-driving system a few years ago to a more ambitious project. Apple has organized a small team of hardware engineers to produce driving systems, vehicle interiors, and design external car bodies. The members also include several senior executives dug from Tesla.
However, some members believe that the car plan has not yet come to the mass production stage. If Apple Car really promotes the plan, it will take 5 to 7 years for the product to be launched. One of the reasons is that under the COVID-19 epidemic, members of the task force can only work at home or work in the company for a short period of time, which delays the progress of the entire plan.
The South Korean media Hyundai Economic Daily News reported last week and then Hyundai Motor Company confirmed to CNBC that it is negotiating with Apple to produce electric cars.
However, Hyundai Motor pointed out that according to the company’s understanding, Apple is negotiating with many global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussions between the two sides are still in the early stages, nothing has been decided yet.
Hyundai Motor announced in December last year that it would acquire an 80% stake in the robotics company Boston Dynamics for US$1.1 billion. At that time, Hyundai Motor stated that it planned to use Boston Dynamics’ robots to realize the company’s vision of smart mobile solutions, investing in self-driving cars, connected and electric vehicles, and smart factories, operations research, construction and other automation solutions.Analysts are optimistic about the cooperation between the two parties
Samsung Securities Auto Analyst Im Eun-Young said: ‘Through cooperation, Hyundai Motor can provide Apple with its electric vehicle platform, and Apple can provide the necessary technology and software for electric vehicles. If it becomes a reality, it will be a huge leap in the industry for Korean cars.’
Hyundai Motor Chairman Euisun Chung, who took office last October, also said that the company will actively promote new growth businesses, focusing on electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and future mobile platforms.
Last month, Hyundai Motor launched a new platform that will support its electric vehicle business in the next few years. Currently, South Korea’s largest automobile group (Hyundai Motor) is committed to seizing a larger share in the fast-growing electric vehicle market.
According to Hyundai’s medium and long-term strategy, its goal is to supply 8% to 10% of the world’s electric vehicles by 2025. Hyundai Motor plans to launch more than 12 battery-powered electric vehicles (BEV) based on E-GMP, which is a dedicated electric vehicle platform for Hyundai Motor.
In addition, in order to transform into a leading service provider in the field of future travel, Hyundai Motor has also established a joint venture company Motional for autonomous vehicles with Aptiv.Xiaomi Car
Well, let’s travel to China. Everything is more interesting here. Say, Baidu has officially announced that it will personally build cars; Alibaba and SAIC have jointly established Zhiji Auto. But Xiaomi, which has always referred to itself as an ‘Internet company’, frequently appears on topics concerning car manufacturing.
In the 10 years since this Internet company started with smartphones, three-fifths of the time surrounded by ‘car-making’ rumors has been around. Although these rumors have been denied one by one by the authorities, the endless reverie they have aroused has largely reflected the expectations of the outside world.
More importantly, Lei Jun said in 2023, ‘We will not build a car in three to five years because of insufficient energy.’
From now to 2023, the ‘three to five years’ that Lei Jun originally said has expired. Moreover, the development of the smartphone industry has approached the ceiling. In contrast, the smart car market is in the early stage of its outbreak.
At the same time, as new players continue to cannibalize the market, the optimal time window for the layout of the smart car market will also be closed at an accelerated rate. Perhaps Xiaomi can also try to build a car.Should Xiaomi build a car?
After 10 years of hard work, Xiaomi has become a real internet giant. But it is undeniable that Xiaomi started from smartphone products, and now half of Xiaomi’s world is still supported by the smartphone business. According to the latest financial report data, in Q3 2023, Xiaomi’s smartphone business revenue accounted for 66% of the company’s total revenue.
However, with the development of technology, it is difficult for smartphones to have disruptive innovations. And the demand for user replacement is no longer strong.
Smartphones have realized the transition from the incremental era to the inventory era, and the market is close to saturation. According to the latest survey by IDC, in Q3 2023, the global smartphone market shipments will drop by 1.3% year-on-year. Prior to this, the year-on-year decline in Q1 in 2023 was 11.7%; the year-on-year decline in Q2 in 2023 was as high as 16%. This is the worst performance in the history of the smartphone industry.
If the bleakness of the smartphone market in 2023 is affected by the epidemic, then looking at the entire 2023, global smartphone shipments were 1.371 billion units, a year-on-year decline of 2.3%, which is the third consecutive year that global smartphone shipments have declined.New Market, New Opportunities
Focusing only on the Chinese market, under favorable policies, new electric cars sales will reach 20% of total vehicle sales by 2025.
This means that even if overall car sales no longer increase, based on the sales scale in 2023, the market size of new electric cars will exceed 5 million in 2025, which is about five times the current size.
In addition, most countries and regions in the world are promoting the development of new electric cars, and the market size will also multiply.
Moreover, automobiles have begun to transform from traditional means of transportation to smart mobile terminals. They have become important scenarios for the landing of emerging technologies such as big data, cloud computing, 5G and AI.Gizchina News of the week
Join GizChina on TelegramWhat Will Make Future Cars Competitive?
Based on the recognition of the potential of the Internet car model, Tesla’s total market value has soared to more than 800 billion U.S. dollars, almost four times that of Toyota (about 210 billion U.S. dollars), which has long dominated the global auto companies’ market value list.
Even Baidu, which only announced the components of the smart car company, after the official announcement of the news, the stock price rose by 70 billion yuan ($10.82 billion) overnight.
Regardless of the angle of view, the smart car market has infinite opportunities, which has attracted many crossover players. Among them, for smartphone manufacturers with a keen sense of smell, smart cars are very likely to be another business growth point after their smartphones.
To this end, Apple has been low-key preparations for many years, Huawei is gearing up, and Xiaomi may also be looking for a suitable opportunity.
In addition, as a major smart terminal device in the future, smart cars have a deeper meaning for Xiaomi. We mean it can become a key part of Xiaomi’s second largest business AIoT business and expand its Internet of Everything.Can Xiaomi build a car?
Although Xiaomi has never made a clear intention to build a car, as early as 2013, Lei Jun visited Musk twice and showed great interest in smart cars.
Subsequently, Xiaomi and Lei Jun began a series of investments in smart cars. The car-making level includes two new car-making forces for young users, Weilai Automobile and Xiaopeng Automobile; the Internet of Vehicles investment includes PATEO and Kay Lide; autonomous driving levels such as Smart Traveler.
The ecological chain companies invested by Xiaomi also include companies that develop smart car products such as 70 Mai, Ruimi Technology, Banya Technology, and Chemi Technology. The product categories include smart driving recorders, smart mirrors, smart rearview mirrors, and smart car chargers.
The three parties, including Lei Jun, Xiaomi Technology, and Shunwei Capital, have invested in about 40 companies related to car manufacturing, automotive aftermarket and travel.Strong Ecology
There are also many cases where Xiaomi itself and Xiaomi’s ecological chain companies and car companies jointly build smart cars. For example, through Xiao Ai, the Mercedes-Benz MBUX human-computer interaction system, the Weimar EX5 model, and the FAW Pentium T77 Mifen customized model can realize the control of smart home; Xiaomi smartphones can play Xiaopeng and BYD car keys role; the Xiaomi Mi Watch also supports the intelligent control of related models of Weilai.
Lei Jun once said, ‘The Internet of Vehicles is an important part of future technology. And cars are also the most important intelligent terminals in people’s lives in the future.
Based on the above information, the Internet of Vehicles is indeed the focus of Xiaomi’s deployment in the automotive field. Related business developments also confirm this point. According to some data, Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd. has applied for the registration of the Xiaomi Mi Chelian trademark. At the same time, it applied for related graphic trademarks.
The number of IoT devices connected to Xiaomi’s AIoT platform has reached 289 million. Moreover, the user base continues to increase. Among them, the number of users with five or more devices connected to the Xiaomi AIoT platform (excluding smartphones and laptops) has reached 5.6 million; in addition, Xiao Ai has 78.4 million monthly active users and is one of the most active voice assistants in the world.Xiaomi Seems To Have Been Preparing For The Development Of Smart Cars All The Time
In 2023, Xiaomi applied for patents related to this field. According to the information disclosed by the National Patent Office, among the more than 2000 patents declared by Xiaomi Technology, about 10 are related to automobiles, mainly including vehicle cruise control, energy supplement, vehicle control, navigation, assisted driving, driving safety, parking information Forecast etc.
On the other hand, Xiaomi has begun to open up new automotive retail channels and deploy offline stores. In May last year, Xiaomi and Changan Mazda announced a strategic cooperation to help Changan Mazda in car sales.
Subsequently, Xiaomi’s e-commerce platform Xiaomi Youpin added ‘auto sales’ category, which is a key component of Xiaomi’s new retail strategy.
In short, Xiaomi has accumulated a certain amount of accumulated vehicles, smart cockpits, smart networking, and car sales. It has penetrated into many links in the smart car industry chain and built its own ecosystem and resource pool.
Once Xiaomi is determined to build a car, these forward-looking layouts will play a vital role.How does Xiaomi build a car?
Looking at the entire industry, Internet car manufacturing can be divided into three main models: independent car manufacturing; independent design, car factory OEM; and in-depth cooperation with traditional car companies.
Unlike consumer electronic products, the automotive industry chain is complex and lengthy. Also, it has extremely high requirements for safety and reliability. At the same time, building a car independently requires heavy asset investment.
This model has been endorsed by many giants: Baidu + Geely, Ali + SAIC (Zhiji Auto), Huawei + Changan + CATL, Apple + Kia.
Earlier, Lei Jun stated in an open letter to employees that Xiaomi has clarified the strategic direction of ‘5G+AI+loT next-generation super internet’. It will invest 50 billion yuan ($7.73 billion) in this by 2025.The smart car coincides with the three technologies of this strategy to a high degree:
5G can provide information transmission conditions with higher reliability and lower latency for intelligent networked vehicles to meet the needs of vehicles and the outside world;
AI technologies, including computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, etc. are all core applications in the smart car scenario;
IoT devices are an indispensable part of Xiaomi’s getting on the car.
If Xiaomi really decides to build a car, it is likely to also cooperate with car companies.
After all, in the third quarter of 2023, Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments ranked top three in the world. Also, its stock price is rising. Relying on one’s own strength to rush all the money to the smart car, which is still losing money, may bring risks.
Moreover, Xiaomi smartphones are often known for their high performance-to-price ratio. But it’s not a small challenge for Xiaomi to create a smart car that meets the expectations.‘Smartphone’ Is, To Some Extent, Xiaomi’s Core Advantage
As the smart hardware with the highest degree of close integration with users’ lives, smartphones can clearly understand users’ daily habits and life patterns, making it easy to collect massive amounts of user real data. This is an essential element to create a personalized and customized driving experience.
At the same time, in terms of smartphones, Xiaomi has developed the MIUI operating system on the basis of Android. Perhaps this successful experience can also be copied to the car and the ‘MIUI system’ suitable for cars.What happens if you don’t build a car?
Prior to this, China has proposed to achieve 20% of the total sales of new electric cars by 2025. It should achieve the ‘carbon peak’ by 2030 and achieve the goal of ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2060. With the continuous support of policies, new electric cars will become a super outlet in the next few years. Moreover, it will be so even in the next ten years.
With the official announcements of Ali and Baidu, the curtain of Internet giants building cars has also begun. From the perspective of Xiaomi alone, its current focus is mostly on the Internet of Vehicles. And its willingness to build cars has not been clearly indicated. However, the competition in the field of Internet of Vehicles is now very fierce.Xiaomi And Apple Are Not Unique
Technology giants such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, and Byte have all entered the game. And the problem of product function homogeneity is relatively serious.
Moreover, Xiaomi’s AIoT ecosystem is slightly closed and only supports devices in its own system. In contrast, Huawei has launched an open protocol that can be accessed by any manufacturer.
On the other hand, the ultimate goal of the Internet of Vehicles lies in the ‘car’ itself, and car companies have an absolute say in the choice of suppliers. Car companies start to increase investment in the Internet of Vehicles. So the future may further reduce the space for Internet giants to play.
More importantly, the mobile Internet era has encountered a bottleneck. So smart cars may become the traffic portal for the next era.
If Internet giants do not have a more in-depth layout on the smart car terminal, and only rely on smart devices and application ecology to ‘get on the car’ and ‘bind’, it may be more like a wedding dress for others. Nowadays, new car-building forces such as Tesla and Weilai are competing in front of this track. And new brands born within traditional car companies are also ready to go.
If Internet giants do not catch up, they are likely to lose their tickets to the autonomous driving arms race that has not yet arrived.Of Course, Not All Crossover Vehicles Will Have Happy Ending
Dyson’s 30 billion yuan ($464 billion) electric car manufacturing project ended in failure. And many new car manufacturers also declared bankruptcy last year.
However, smart cars have gone through several years of development, and the business model has been initially verified. If Xiaomi announces that it is going to build a car one day, it will be logical.
After all, in the past 5 years, Xiaomi has not rarely threaded needles in the field of smart cars. Perhaps one day, these lines will form a huge net.Conclusion
As you can see, not only Apple and Xiaomi, but many other internet giants are going to attack this niche. It’s reasonable – they want new markets. Well, in other words, they want to find directions that will be more profitable for them. But if the aforementioned Ali, Baidou, and others are top-level internet companies, people know Xiaomi and Apple for their mobile products mainly. In this regard, it’s quite interesting to see how they can cope with this task.
P.S. We took these two not accidentally. Xiaomi is called Chinese Apple because, at least, in the past, it was copying Apple’s business model and Apple’s phones.
For most people, summer means vacation and traveling. As temperatures rise, 80 percent of Americans plan on changing their everyday scenery, and most of them will do so by taking a road trip. And it makes sense since driving is more flexible and cheaper than flying.
The trunk of your car has a lot more room than a single carry-on, but it’s definitely limited and you’ll need to make the most of it. Packing for the road isn’t just about the satisfaction of winning a complicated game of luggage Tetris—safety is important, too.The importance of packing right
If you think that as long as you manage to squeeze in every last thing—up to and including the kitchen sink—you’re good to go, think again. Bad packing can quickly turn a summer vacation into a frustrating experience, like when you can’t find the sunscreen or luggage has shifted and smashed your tasty loaf of banana bread. But an errant water bottle or an unsecured grill grate can have even more devastating and dramatic effects.
At best, items shifting and spilling are a distraction. If you’re constantly checking the rearview mirror to make sure that board game on top of your luggage won’t slide off and scatter pieces everywhere, your eyes are not on the road, creating a hazard to passengers and other drivers.
[Related: Organize and accessorize your board games with 3D printing]
“Properly packing cars mitigates these dangers and also helps keep all passengers safe and organized,” says Thomas McIntyre Schultz, who’s in charge of technology and product communications at Volvo Car USA.
But at worst, loose items can be deadly. According to Volvo’s loading recommendations, an object weighing 44 pounds can reach an equivalent projectile weight of over 2,200 pounds in a head-on collision at just 30 miles per hour. At that speed, if the item hits the driver or one of the passengers, it may cause serious injuries or even death. So packing is about more than comfort and convenience—it could literally save your life.Packing tips
“Packing a car is a blend of art and science that helps protect everyone on the road,” says McIntyre Schultz.
And as with any masterpiece or scientific experiment, he suggests you start things off with a plan. Before you toss things in the trunk, make sure everything you intend to bring with you is present and accounted for. That way, you’ll avoid the frustration of packing the whole trunk only to realize you forgot a duffle bag and have to start the process all over again.
First, disassemble or collapse large items like strollers, for example, so they pack down as small as possible. Then, to make sure you’re making the most of the space in your car, pack anything especially bulky or with sharp edges in its own box. Fill in any nooks and crannies with soft, pliable goods like blankets, pillows or jackets. This will make packing easier and protect your luggage from getting scratched or dented.
Once everything in the driveway or garage is ready, visualize how it might all fit together before you start loading. Place heavy bags at the bottom of the stack to prevent them from sliding around or crushing more delicate items. For especially large or awkwardly shaped things like bikes, scooters, or sports equipment, consider installing a bike rack or roof rack outside your vehicle. Make sure to follow the manufacturers’ installation instructions carefully to ensure the racks are secure.
Once everything is in place, take a photo so you can reference it and replicate the results when you head home.
For convenience’s sake, keep handy items like first aid kits, snacks, and entertainment devices in the passenger area. Keep them in baskets or boxes and try to secure them to seats, or wedge them tightly on the floor between rows to keep them from sliding or spilling.Be mindful of your car
What you’ll need to make your ride safe before hitting the road will depend on what you drive. McIntyre Schultz explains sedans—cars with separate enclosed trunks—don’t require as many safety measures as other vehicles.
“A trunk provides a natural separation for passengers from luggage, heavy, or loose gear and can minimize distractions caused by items shifting mid-drive,” he says.
If you’re driving an SUV or hatchback, things are different. To avoid a flying suitcase ruining your trip, stow heavy items at the bottom of the trunk and away from people. This will make them easier to pack while preventing them from falling on passengers, crushing other items or, in case of an accident, turning into deadly projectiles. For added safety, use rope or bungee cords to strap down heavy objects to your vehicle’s built-in tie-down anchors. If you have luggage piled in the backseat, secure it with a safety net. This simple barrier can will also prevent cargo from flying forward into the front seats.
[Related: How airbags work, and how they can fail]
If you’re piling high, don’t let luggage bang against the windows—avoid any breakage or damage to the glass by leaving a 4-inch space between it and your gear. Also, don’t forget to leave enough space so you can see out your windows and through your rearview mirror.
Finally, make any changes your car needs to handle the heavy load, especially if you’ve attached a hitch-mounted rack or trailer. Check your car’s specs carefully and look into whether you’ll need to adjust your tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight. You’ll find all that information in your car’s manual.
Strapping in all your goods and gear in place (and yourself, too) will make your road trip a safe one, so you’re more likely to arrive at your destination healthy, happy, and ready to enjoy a well deserved summer vacation.
You can use your dash cam for insurance purposes, or you can play “Thunder Road” in the background and upload the video to YouTube. Your call. Jorge Fernández via Unsplash
If you haven’t followed the hype surrounding dash cams here in the U.S., you’ve probably at least seen crazy dash cam footage on YouTube from countries like Russia, where everyone has one in their car. Installing one may seem complicated, but it’s actually a super-simple project that anyone can do.Decide if you need a dash cam
Dash cams aren’t as popular in the U.S. as they are elsewhere, so you don’t hear about them as often after a big car crash. When I reached out to insurance companies, most were hesitant to say whether they use dash cams to determine fault or not, or whether they recommend their customers install one.
“There are so many things that go into what happens in an accident,” says Janet Ruiz, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute. “A lot of times, the police report has to be taken into account first. There might be some states or counties where the police have started using dash cams, and therefore the insurance companies use them. But it’s still too much in the works to say, ‘Put a dash cam in, and that’ll help you determine fault after an accident.’” She did note that they can be useful for combating fraud and theft, though.
While most insurance companies were reluctant to give concrete answers, a spokesperson for Amica told me they have used dash cam footage to assist with the determination of fault in the past, even though they don’t have an official recommendation for their customers yet. So while the jury is still out on whether installing a dash cam is a slam-dunk good idea, it may be worthwhile if you want to cover all your bases. Keep in mind, of course, that they may prove your own fault in an accident too, so it can be a double-edged sword.
After my car got totaled earlier this year—in a collision where there were no witnesses beyond the two drivers—I decided to get one for my wife’s car, should anything happen in the future. Even if it doesn’t protect us, at least I’ll know I did everything I could.Find the right dash cam model
Without a dash cam, it might be hard to prove that you didn’t rear-end the car in front of you and that they backed up hard into you instead. Bruno Kelzer via Unsplash
If you’ve decided to go for a dash cam, we’re here to tell you the hardest part of the process is actually finding one. There are plenty of different models out there, and there’s no one-size-fits-all option. There are, however, a few things you should consider as you shop:
Power source: Many dash cams are powered by the cigarette lighter socket in your car, though there are some that have the ability to be hard-wired directly to your battery. The latter requires professional installation outside the scope of this guide, so we’re focusing on the more typical DIY-friendly models here. In addition, some models contain a lithium-ion battery—like your phone—while others contain a capacitor to store energy. If you live in a particularly hot climate, you’ll want a capacitor model, since they’re more heat resistant than their battery-powered siblings.
Field of view: Ideally, you want a dash cam with as wide a field of view as possible, so it can see cars not just in front of you, but to the sides, too. You’ll find 140 to 160 degrees is fairly common, though there are some models that go as wide as 170 degrees.
Picture quality and frame rate: The sharper the video captured by your dash cam, the better, so you can make out the license plate numbers of other cars on the road. Resolution is part of this equation, but not all of it—you also need to consider picture quality in low light, for example, so you can get good nighttime footage. The best thing you can do is look at reviews and see if you can find footage online taken from the model you’re researching.
Number of cameras: At the bare minimum, a dash cam will record video from your front windshield. But some models have other cameras for other views, like one for your back windshield or a camera facing the driver’s seat to capture other people in the car. (This is particularly useful for Uber and Lyft drivers who want evidence of anything that happens on the job.)
Built-in screens and GPS: While it’s not required, some models have screens on the back of the camera that allows you to see the video it’s recording—which can be helpful during the initial setup, if nothing else. Others have built-in GPS or support for separate GPS modules, so you can attach your location to the footage you capture. Some may even offer turn-by-turn navigation (though honestly, the navigation on your phone is probably better).
Wi-Fi and app support: Dash cams with built-in Wi-Fi allow you to view and share footage from an app on your phone, rather than having to remove the SD card and insert it into a computer. Again, this isn’t imperative, but some people may find it useful.
Emergency sensors: Your dash cam is limited by the amount of space on its SD card, and when its storage is full, it’ll automatically erase old footage to make room for new footage. I highly recommend getting a dash cam that can detect when you’ve been in a collision, since it allows the dash cam to “lock” that footage from being overwritten as you continue driving. If your dash cam is wired directly to your car (rather than plugged into the cigarette lighter), it may also have the ability to record collisions that happen while you’re parked, which is a nice perk.
Since I live in a hot climate and don’t need a ton of extra features, I settled on the Blackvue DR900x, which contains a capacitor and comes with a front and rear camera. Other popular options include the Vantrue N4, for a battery and preview screen, or the Garmin Mini for those on a strict budget. Just be sure to read the user reviews before you buy—that’s how I learned to avoid battery-powered models in hot weather. If the dash cam you pick doesn’t come with an SD card—or the one it comes with is small—you may want to grab a 64GB model like this one from SanDisk.How to install a dash cam
Low visibility? No problem. Some dash cams can see in the dark. Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash
Before you install your dash cam, do a bit of research on windshield mounting laws in your state. Certain regions may require you to place objects in the lower corners or upper middle of the windshield, so as not to obscure your view of the road. Make sure you know what’s allowed before you mount your dash cam with strong adhesive. You may also want to look up any laws about recording audio without the consent of others riding in the car, though you can always turn audio recording off if you prefer.
Second, while this is a pretty simple process, it’s still a DIY project involving your car, so the usual caveats apply: If you aren’t comfortable or willing to do a bit of extra research on your specific model to make sure it’s installed properly, there’s no shame in consulting a professional.
Once you’ve got your mounting location picked—I used the spot behind my rearview mirror since I don’t have a screen on my dash cam—clean the spot thoroughly with some rubbing alcohol, then remove the adhesive or attach the suction cup and place it on your windshield. Then, plug the dash cam into your car’s cigarette lighter and make sure it turns on. I’d even take a quick drive around the block to make sure it records footage properly and that the quality of that footage is up to your standards. If you don’t have a screen on your dash cam, doing so can also help you find the right angle to get the best coverage of the road in front of you.
Placing your dash cam behind your rear-view mirror will not obstruct your vision. Whitson Gordon
Once you’ve tested the dash cam and are satisfied with its performance, it’s time to hide all those unsightly wires dangling about in your car. While you could just use clips or tape to secure them somewhere, you can actually hide them under your car’s trim for a much cleaner look. It just requires prying the trim back and pushing the wires underneath.
For best results, you’ll want a trim tool kit, though I had a plastic pry tool from an electronics repair kit that worked decently well. Start by giving yourself a little extra slack where the cable plugs into the dash cam, and pry the headliner at the top of your windshield away from the glass. Shove part of the cable underneath, and continue this process along the trim. This can be pretty tough at first, depending on your car, but you’ll get the hang of it as you go. Don’t be afraid to start over if you need to—it’s worth it for a clean look in the end.
A trim or pry tool can help you lay the cable under your car’s trim. Whitson Gordon
Once you get to the door, continue the process by hiding the wire under the A-pillar, between the plastic trim and the windshield. Many people run the wire across the A-pillar and down the weather stripping by the door, but this crosses over the side airbag on many cars, so there’s debate as to whether it’s safe—so I prefer to run my wire along the windshield, behind the airbag, instead.
It’s a good idea to avoid airbags when laying the dash cam cable as to not interfere with their proper function in case of a crash. Whitson Gordon
Then, once you reach the dashboard, you can double back and route the cable under the weather stripping. This whole step may vary a bit from car to car, and in some cases you may need to remove the A-pillar altogether, which may require a look at your manual, some YouTube searching for your car, or even some professional help. I opted to just leave a bit of cable visible above the one part I couldn’t tuck under, though it still ended up looking clean enough for my taste.
If you don’t want to fully remove the A-pillar, you can lay the cable on the edge. Though it’s still visible, it is very discreet. Whitson Gordon
Pushing it into the rubber weather stripping is easy, and you can keep going until you get to the AC socket on the dashboard. This is in a different spot on every car, but on my wife’s Prius, it was right under the glove compartment.
You can get a dash cam with a lithium battery or plug it into the car’s cigarette lighter. This will automatically turn the camera on when you start your engine. Whitson Gordon
Repeat the process for the rear camera, if you have one. Since the cable for my front camera ran above the passenger side of the car, I ran the rear camera in front of the driver’s side, down the A-pillar to the floor, then all the way to the back seat and up into the trunk. Again, I avoided running it along the top of the car to avoid putting the cable in front of any side airbags. Since my Prius is a hatchback, I had to leave a bit of slack out in the open for the trunk to open properly, but this won’t be necessary on normal sedans.
A rearview camera could be useful in a rear-end collision. Either that or to see the crazy look of the guy honking behind you. Whitson Gordon
My dash cam also came with a few adhesive clips that I was able to use to hide the last bit of wire behind the rearview mirror before going up to the headliner. The end result was a super-clean look, with the dash cam and its wires barely visible from the car’s four seats.
It wasn’t until after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon that NASA starting thinking seriously about giving astronauts some sort of surface mobility system, a vehicle that would allow them to cover more ground during their brief sojourns on the lunar surface. In early 1970, the space agency award Boeing a contract to develop and build such a system. And Boeing delivered. The company delivered the first flight ready lunar rover to NASA on March 15, 1971, just 17 months after winning the contract and two weeks ahead of schedule. This rover flew on Apollo 15, and while taking a car to the Moon might seem insane, the rover’s simple and elegant design made it a worthwhile addition to the final three Apollo missions.
Apollo 17’s lunar rover on the Moon
Increasing Surface Mobility
Forward-thinking engineers had been dreaming up ways to increase astronauts mobility on the lunar surface since the early 1960s. Some wanted to see full roving laboratories akin to mobile homes — designs like MOLAB — serve double duty as crew quarters and traveling workspace on lunar missions. Others favoured worm- and centipede-inspired vehicles that would distribute their weight across a larger surface area to avoid sinking into the dust. Still other proposals imagined flying platforms that would give astronauts a bird’s eye view of the lunar terrain as they traveled from place to place. There was even, briefly, serious interest in sending astronauts to the Moon with electric mini-bikes.
The reality was that a car-like vehicle was ideal. Stable on four wheels and flat, it could carry two astronauts and their life support systems and tools to interesting sites a fair distance from their landing site.
But the design constraints for the lunar rover were strict. As was the case with the Apollo program on the whole, weight was something NASA didn’t have a lot of wiggle room with. The rover would have to be light enough to launch with the Apollo payload as it was, but also be sturdy enough to traverse all types of terrains, conquer slopes up to 25 degrees, and function in temperatures ranging from -279 to 243 degrees Fahrenheit. And like everything designed for use on the Moon, it had to be something astronauts could unload and use easily wearing their bulky pressure suits.
The final rover that Boeing built met these strict specifications. It was an electrically propelled vehicle that weighed 480 pounds on Earth (80 pounds on the Moon), could carry about twice its own weight, and move at a top speed of about 8.6 miles per hour. Physically, it was an open design with two seats and a central control panel with a joystick that either astronaut could manipulate with a bulky glove on.
But designing it was only half the battle. The rover would be useless if engineers couldn’t figure a way to get it down to and ready to drive on the lunar surface.
The steps to deploy your lunar rover.
**Getting the Rover to the Moon **
Luckily, the Apollo lunar module had enough storage space on board to carry a folded lunar rover. With its wheels folded in and its forward and rear chassis (or frame) folded over its middle section, the rover fit snugly into the LM descent stage’s quadrant 1, one of four storage units on the lower portion of the spacecraft.
The folded rover was anchored to the LM at one upper central strut on the lander’s body and to two points on its lower portion. Keeping it in this stowed position was a system of cables, shock absorbers, pin retract mechanisms, telescoping tubes, push—off rods, and a handful of other minor gears all designed so one astronaut could unpack the vehicle alone.
Deployment started with a single mylar cable attached to the rover’s aft chassis. One astronaut pulled this tape end over end to start the sequence then handed it off to his moonwalking companion to keep tension on the cord. Next, the first astronaut climbed up the lunar module’s ladder to pull a D-ring that released the rover’s upper restraint. This let the rover to fall about five inches away from its stowed position. It couldn’t go any further; two cables kept it in place.
Stuck in this half-released position, the first astronaut then walked around to the rover’s other side to pull a second mylar cable. This tape lowered the rover slowly to the surface. It also released two support cables that in turn triggered a push-off tube that moved the rover’s centre of gravity outward away from the lunar module. As it descended, release pins on the chassis pulled out to allow the base of the vehicle to unfold. Then the wheels sprung into place automatically thanks to torsion bars.
The astronaut continued pulling this mylar tape until all four wheels touched the surface and the support cables went slack. Another mylar tape on the other side of the rover brought the vehicle the rest of the way to the surface while telescoping tubes made sure it came to rest safely away from the lunar module. The cables and tubes released once their job was done. The rover was on the surface.
How the Apollo lunar rovers stack up against other offworld rovers.
Success on the Surface
With the rover unpacked, the astronauts had to set up the vehicle before they could take it for a drive. They deployed fender extensions over each wheel, inserted toeholds, deployed handholds and footrests, set up the control and display console, unfolded the seats and released the seatbelts, and finally discarded all the now unnecessary locking pins and latches.
The lunar rover turned out to be well worth the rapid development schedule. On the first three lunar landing missions — Apollo 11, Apollo 12, and Apollo 14 — astronauts covered a total combined distance of 4.4 miles. With a rover, Apollo 15 more than tripled that distance covering a total of 17 miles. Apollo 16 covered slightly less ground, just 16.8 miles. The final lunar Apollo mission, Apollo 17, that got the most out of its rover. In December of 1972, Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt traveled 4.5 miles from their landing site, which was further than any other crew had gone, covered a total distance on the surface of 22.2 miles, and reached a top speed of about 11.5 miles per hour.
The variety of sites Apollo astronatus were able to visit with the luanr rover gave us far more scientific return from these missions than we would have been able to gather otherwise, deepening our understanding of the lunar environment and the Moon’s evolution. These missions also gave us incredible footage that continues to make Earth-bound drivers extremely jealous.
_Sources: The Apollo 15 Press Kit; NASA; The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal; The Lunar Rover Operations Handbook; The LRV Apollo News Reference. _
The best Android phones nowadays feature glass or metal builds, which makes it quite difficult to keep them safe and free from damage.
Some of the most common accidents to befall them include shattered glass screens, damaged speakers or charging sockets, and ugly scratches. Worse still, it can lead to lags and other performance issues as you use it.
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While you can buy an extended warranty for your phone, a protective phone case goes a long way towards protecting your investment by helping you avoid the issues that come with a major drop disaster. At the very least, you’ll need a case that uses rubber or silicone and other shock-absorbent material that will protect the corners.
There are lots of options for protective cases for Android from lightweight, ultra-slim and stylish ones that show off your phone’s design, to extremely rugged, bulky shells that can survive almost anything.
Ultimately, the protective case you pick will depend on whether you want your phone to be more stylish or safe, and how actively you use it. Read on for our pick of the best phone cases for Android.What To Look For In a Protective Phone Case For Android
Before you go out and buy a protective case for your Android phone, there are a few things to consider when selecting the best one for your needs:
Compatibility: Android phones come in a variety of sizes, styles, and shapes so the first thing would be to check whether the phone case you want is compatible with your specific phone model so you can get the best fit. Check also for precise cut-outs like for the ports and jacks, and if wireless charging is important to you or you want to dock the phone while it’s still in its case, check with the manufacturer whether this is possible.
Protection: If protection against shatters or scratches is your priority, go for a multi-layer case or one with a durable build, plus extras like rubber edges that will prevent it from slipping out of your hands anytime you use the phone.
Design: Protective phone cases come in various designs from rugged, tough, slim or basic, to battery cases that hold your battery pack, or a folio case with pockets that can hold cash or credit cards. Whichever option you go with, it’s still important to check whether it offers the solid protection you need to protect your phone from the damage that comes with accidental drops. For example, you can get a rugged case for your weekend excursions, and a slim one for your 9-to-5 gig.
Price: This may not be a priority for you more than protecting your phone, but it’s still okay to do a comparison search and shop around to find a good price for the case you want. Some case manufacturers offer lifetime warranties if you buy directly from them, in which case paying the full retail price would be worth it.Best Protective Phone Cases For Android
Spigen is a leading manufacturer in the smartphone protection segment, and this is just one of the best protective phone cases it offers for Android.
The Neo Hybrid offers plenty of protection for day-to-day use thanks to its slim grip design, enhanced shock absorption, and dual-layered structure that ensure your phone gets the extra protection it needs without adding bulk.
It also handles well thanks to its smooth but grippy Herringbone-textured rubber so your phone won’t slip out of your hand as you talk or take photos. Plus it comes in a wide range of colors including midnight black, gunmetal, burgundy, and arctic silver, is compatible with most major Android smartphones, and thin enough to be wireless charging compatible.
It’s not as tough as the most protective phone cases on the market, but it’s ideal if you want a protective case that blends style, usability, and functionality.
OtterBox is another big name in the protective case market, and this screenless edition of its Defender range of cases is about as comprehensive as it gets.
It has good grip and its multi-layer design protects your phone from drops, dust, and scratches, while the outer layer, which is made of thick silicone and a reinforced polycarbonate inner, helps absorb impact when the phone drops or during other phone-related accidents.
It also has a rubber back that protects your phone’s protruding lenses when placed on a flat surface, and port covers that prevent dust and dirt from clogging your phone’s ports and jacks.
The Otterbox Defender isn’t the type of phone case you’d want to show off, and it’s very bulky, but it’s a winner when it comes to ultimate drop protection. It’s compatible with most major Samsung and Android smartphones, and comes in colors such as Aqua Mint, Mountain Range Green, Cowabunga Blue, Gunmetal Grey, Rosmarine, and Plum Haze.
Caseology’s Vault Series phone protection cases offer a solid level of protection and a comfortable secure grip thanks to its flexible, slightly textured, single-piece TPU cover with brushed metal design and carbon fiber detail.
It also has a rugged design with shock absorbing features, raised front lip protection, precise cutouts, and responsive button covers with crisp tactile feedback. It still allows for wireless charging pass-through and is compatible with various Android phones including Samsung and Google Pixel.
Spigen offers various options from rugged cases with dual-layer protection to slim polycarbonate shells. This rugged case is one of the best with impressive protection in a light and thin case, with some stylish detail from the carbon fiber elements.
It has cases available for many mid-ranger and most flagship Android phones including devices from Samsung, Google, OnePlus, LG, and Xiaomi among others, and they’re reasonably priced too. Plus, the cases are designed with the original patent design by Spigen, with perfect cutouts that make it less bulky, and an exact fit for your phone model.
The case has a flexible TPU shell made with durable material, shock-absorption provided with military-grade Air Cushion Technology, and is fingerprint resistant. It’s easy to install, designed for easy grip, and its raised lip on the front protects your screen from shattering or getting scratches in the event of a face-first drop.
Spigen has also designed the case with tactile buttons for easy operation of volume controls, and it allows for wireless charging.
This is another popular rugged phone case for Android, though it’s bulkier than your average slim-line case, but with robust protection. It’s slim, durable, and a lighter-duty line compared to other cases from the manufacturer.
It’s pocket-friendly with solid protection for its weight and size, and you can select from a wide range of colors such as black, Gradient Energy, Tonic Violet, Aspen Gleam, You Ashed 4 It, Transparent, Purple, Red, Yellow, and more.Protect And Upgrade Your Phone
A durable, protective phone case is an essential accessory especially for people whose lives are busy and fast-paced or those with kids around them. Not only does it reduce the risk of breaking or shattering screens in case of accidental drops, but it also acts as a fashion statement and in some cases a wallet to keep your cash or credit cards handy.
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