Car Toys Blog

Car Toys Home | Car Toys Blog Home

Connected Car 101

If there is one thing we know about car electronics it’s…well…everything. Only Car Toys has the experts with the knowledge about how to connect any smartphone to any car. Do you need to hear the latest traffic updates? We know the answer. Would you like to listen to endless music from iHeartRadio and Pandora? We know how to do that too.

So when it comes to connecting your car, what are your options? Let’s break it down, level by level.

 

Bluetooth

Bluetooth lets devices communicate wirelessly with each other and allows you to take calls and stream audio from services like Pandora, for example.  By integrating wireless functionality into your car’s stereo it becomes easy to manage calls and music without ever needing to pick up your phone.

 

Plug In

Plug your phone directly into your deck through USB or an auxiliary audio cable to get immediate connection. This is one of the cheapest and most automatically intuitive solutions if your car is already configured to accept a cable connection. And if you aren’t already outfitted, Car Toys has everything you need to get set up!

 

Try App Remote

If you are looking for a simple, familiar way to connect to your car, use Sony’s app remote, which turns your car into a secondary display for your phone. With the Sony app remote your smartphone’s touchscreen acts as the remote control for your system, enabling you to enjoy all the capabilities of a full-featured car stereo without the complexity.

 

Utilize MirrorLink

MirrorLink offers seamless connectivity between your smartphone and your receiver. It is super easy to use as all apps, content and controls are mirrored straight from your phone to the console.

 

Connect with WiFi

WiFi units like the Kenwood DNN991HD enable you to connect directly to the internet as well as use pre-installed apps such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, email and many more. You can even stream video! This unit also allows you to share content with other wireless devices like a tablet for seamless entertainment on the road.

 

Why do these options rock?

Being connected means that all of your devices automatically become easier to use! This makes driving safer through hands-free calling, messaging, mapping, and listening. Everything is easier when you are connected.

 

We have so much to show you! Come to your local Car Toys to check out the Connected Car Room and ask one of our experts to show you all of the exciting possibilities for your car.

Alpine’s MRX-M55 and MRV-M500

Choices, choices… At Car Toys, we have a lot of options. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Which is great, because that means we’ll probably have exactly what you need to really bump up your car audio system. But it does mean that you’ll have some options to weigh. And that’s where our experts come in. When you have decisions to make, they’re here with the answers. This time, we went to them with two great products and asked, which should I buy?

The Alpine MRX-M55 X-Power Series Mono Power Digital Amplifier

OR

The Alpine MRV-M500 Mono Digital Amplifiier

So here’s their take. Alpine makes it a little easier to get great bass amplification in your vehicle. Two products, the MRX-M55 and the MRV-M500, are both compact powerhouses, making it extremely simple to get a lot of sound out of a very small device. Both amps have less than a 9” by 9” footprint and are about 2” tall, ensuring that they can fit in almost any space.

MRX-M55

So how do these two amps compare? The Alpine MRV-M55 uses the very latest digital technology to produce incredible power and big bass by making use of subsonic filters. This digital amp puts out up to 550 watts RMS and utilizes a power-saving system to keep the music playing even after running for a long time. It is truly state-of-the-art.

MRV-M500

If you are looking for a product that offers many similar capabilities to the MRX-M55 digital amp, but at the price of a standard, check out the MRV-M500. This amp uses a low-pass filter to put you in command of the frequencies that reach your sub, while simultaneously boosting bass. Control the volume of your amp from the front seat or use a remote bass controller to manage your sound.

So, two great products, just a little difference in capabilities and price. If you hurry, though, the MRX-M55 is actually on sale… just FYI…

 

9 songs to add to your patriotic playlist

The Fourth of July is a summer highlight for everyone across the United States. Here are our top nine song suggestions to help you rev up your patriotic pride and celebrate this upcoming Independence Day. Add these to you BBQ, Fireworks, and driving around town playlist!

 

1. Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen

This 1984 hit is classic listening material for any Fourth of July party, barbeque, or night out.  Connect to the nitty gritty roots of your heritage and be heard!

 

2. Happy – Pharrell Williams

“It might seem crazy what I’m about to say. Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break…” This summertime hit is the perfect song to get you and your friends in the mood for some American celebration.

 

3. Rock & Roll Band – Boston

This famous rock song is about Boston’s underdog-esque “rise from a bar band” story. For a nation that claims to support the little guy, this is a great song to play on Independence Day.

 

4. Into the Wild – LP

‘Into the Wild’ is a relatively recent American indie rock song, best known for being featured in a Citibank commercial. If any song can feel free, this is certainly one of them.

 

5. Sing – Ed Sheeran

‘Sing’ is a distinct departure from Ed Sheeran’s usual folk rock sound and was directly inspired by Justin Timberlake. Similarly, if you like Michael Jackson’s ‘Billy Jean,’ there is a good chance that this is right down your alley. Pop these rapid-fire rhymes into your new car stereo and find some good old-fashioned American adventure.

Oh! And ignore the fact that he’s British. We don’t talk about that on Independence Day.

 

6. The Stars and Stripes Forever – John Philip Sousa

Sometimes all you need to get in the mood is a little enthusiastic marching music. John Philip Sousa knows what’s up.

 

7. My Town – Montgomery Gentry

Country is widely considered to be the music in the heart and soul of America. This particular country song by Montgomery Gentry peaked on the U.S. country chart at #5 and on the Billboard Hot 100 at #40. Why not share it with YOUR town?

 

8. Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

Sure, it’s American Independence Day, but who says the Scots can’t get in on the fun? Scottish recording artist Calvin Harris released ‘Feel So Close’ back in 2011, but it remains a powerful party song.

 

9. On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons

American alternative rock band Imagine Dragons should be everyone’s life theme song. As the song says “I’ve had the highest mountains, I’ve had the deepest rivers, you can have it all but not till you prove it…I’m on top of the world.” So let’s celebrate!

3 reasons to get your car detailed

 

Car Toys Detailing

Car Toys Detailing

Our cars go everywhere with us, through the mud, the grime of the daily commute, picking up grass-stained kids from soccer, the hasty scarffing down of a breakfast burrito…  Life can be messy, and it takes its toll on all of us, but at least you get to shower every day (we hope). Doesn’t your car, your faithful companion in all transportation needs, deserve that same luxury?

 

We think yes, and here are 3 reasons why.

1) Improve the longevity and re-sale value of your car.

Sun, dirt, smog, acid rain, brake dust, insects, bird droppings – these are just a few of the daily abusers your car puts up with. Taking proper care of your vehicle will help extend its longevity and increase its re-sale value.

2) Time is money. 

Sure, there are some detailing projects that you could do yourself, but to do it right, would take a good 8-10 hours of solid work. Your time is worth too much for that. Leave it to the professionals with the tools to do it right.

3) Feel like you bought a new car, without the added loan.

Remember that wonderful “new car” feeling? Getting your car professionally detailed will bring you right back there, without having to dip into your kid’s college fund.

 

Did we convince you?

Give us a call and schedule your detailing appointment today

How to think about less things: Automating life with IFTTT

There are a ton of apps out there to make your life easier, and one of the most interesting and flexible is IFTTT. It’s been around for quite a while now, and you may have already tried playing around with it. Using IFTTT (rhymes with “gift,” so we’re told) you can pair up triggers from any of 69 different “channels,” such as text messaging, weather apps, Twitter, Craigslist, Google drive, etc. to effectively automate simple tasks that will add to the overall quality of your life without you having to think about it. They are constantly adding new channels, which means the capabilities are always increasing. Here are a few of our favorite “recipes.”

Text roommate when I enter a grocery store

Or maybe install this on their phone so that you can tell them when you need more bacon. Always more bacon.

 

Be notified if it’s raining tomorrow

It would be awesome to know that you should plan on packing rain pants for your morning bike ride to work.

 

Unsilence the cell

I have a habit of forgetting to turn my ringer back on after work and then missing a ton of calls. It would be great to actually know when and where my friends are meeting for dinner…

 

Download new Facebook photos you’re tagged in to Dropbox

Get all the photos of you from friends’ weddings and summer parties downloaded directly to your dropbox. No more “hey, can you email that to everyone?”

 

If I star an email in gmail, create a reminder that I need to take care of it

Ever read an email and think, “oh sure, I’ll take care of that later” and then go on your merry way?  Hopefully it wasn’t important or anything…

 

Simply put, the possibilities are endless! Try a few out and let us know what your favorite recipes are.

PCMag has listed 101 of their favorites here: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2424077,00.asp 

Which phone is right for you? Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 comparison

GS5 vs HTC One M8

The Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 are currently the two best Android phones on the market. Honestly, they’re both great. But, if you’re like me, your phone is a huge part of your life and you need a phone that fits your lifestyle. The BEST choice for you then, really depends on what you’re looking for.

If you’re a person who lives through photos, takes a lot of pictures (eh hem, selfies), uses your phone as your primary camera, and want to share these photos with your friends and family, you would likely benefit most from the features of the HTC M8.

If you’re a super active individual, living an on-the-go lifestyle, you benefit more from health monitoring features and the dust and water resistance of the Galaxy S5.

If you’re not totally sure, we broke it down for you.

After having spent some time with each of these very impressive phones, we did see some notable differences. To make it easy, we’ve identified a winner in each category for you.

Design:
Winner = HTC One M8
The case comes in metal (to Galaxy’s plastic) which in testing was slightly more durable in drop tests.

Screen Quality:
Winner = Samsung Galaxy S5
While both look amazing, Galaxy’s deeper blacks and slightly richer colors beat out HTC’s LCD display.

Speaker:
Winner = HTC One M8
Galaxy had your typical single-output speaker compared to HTC’s BoomSound. The two front-facing speakers provide rich, crystal-clear sound even at high volumes. While seemingly small, this made a notable difference when we’d rewatch videos we took and stream content, making it the clear winner for everyday use.

Software:
Winner = Galaxy S5
While both phones had the same feel as their predecessor, we preferred the look and feel of Galaxy’s TouchWiz software to HTC’s “less is more approach” with Sense 6.

Camera:
Winner: HTC One M8
Instead of increasing the number of megapixels inside the camera of their devices, HTC doubled the size of their megapixels to allow for more light to enter the lens.  These Ultrapixels create a sharper, more defined picture even at night.

Battery Life:
Winner = Samsung Galaxy S5
While technically the Galaxy has only ~10% more battery than the HTC, it was a notable difference in our testing.

CPU, RAM, Storage, Screensize:
Tie
Both were very similar when it came to these categories.

So which one is tops? We leaned a bit towards the Galaxy S5 but, as you can see from the above comments and the below specs, each of the phones has a few unique features they bring to the table (Design, Sound, Camera, etc.). For some of these features, you’ll know which phone you’d prefer just by reading about them, but for others (like the software or camera) we’d suggest you come in and play around with before making your final decision. You can also head over to our Facebook page for a fun quiz that will tell you which phone fits your personality!

HTC One M8

Samsung Galaxy S5

Size

5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches; 6.3 oz.

5.5 x 2.9 x 0.31 inches; 5 oz.

Screen

5 inches; 1,920×1,080; 441ppi

5.1 inches; 1,920×1,080 pixels; 431ppi

OS

Android 4.4; Sense 6.0 UI

Android 4.4; TouchWiz UI

Processor

2.3GHz quad-core; Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

2.5GHz quad-core; Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

Rear camera and recording

4-’Ultrapixel’; 1080p HD

16-megapixel; 4K HD (1080p HD default)

Front-facing camera

5-megapixel; 1080p HD video

2-megapixel; 1080p HD video

Capacity

16GB, 32GB

16GB, 32GB

RAM

2GB

2GB

Expandable storage

Up to 128GB

Up to 128GB