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How to Create a Home Away From Home in Your Vehicle

For as many electronic devices that you have in your home, your car, truck and SUV seem to have almost as many. The days of the simple car stereo are long gone, replaced by vehicles that have DVD and video players, backup cameras, GPS devices and power outlets. Short of actually driving the vehicle for you, there are many devices that make your travels much more enjoyable both for the driver and passengers.

In-dash Stereos

These days, every car comes with a manufacturer-supplied in-dash car stereo, and these are often very good, delivering decent sound and featuring some of the latest advances in technology. In fact, many car manufacturers have deals arranged with the top names in the car stereo industry to install name-brand stereos into their vehicles. However, a factory-installed car stereo often does not have everything that the user wants, and upgrading the system to deliver deeper, richer and fuller sound is easier than it may seem.

The first consideration is the stereo itself. If your current stereo only has a CD player or if it s a vintage vehicle a cassette or 8-track player, you'll want to upgrade to one that has MP3 playback capability so you can take your favorite songs from your computer to the car with ease. There are also stereos that connect via Bluetooth with your smartphone or, if you are still turning knobs or pushing buttons to find you radio stations and song selections, it may be time to upgrade to a car stereo with a touchscreen display. If you are only getting your local radio stations and you have heard the same songs so much you hear them in your sleep, then upgrading to a stereo with satellite radio is the right choice.

Stereo Components

Often when replacing a car stereo, it is a good idea to replace the existing car speakers as well. In some cases, the stereo and speakers come as part of a package which both saves you money and ensures that you have everything you need for a stereo installation in one box. You can purchase all-in-one speakers, known as full-range speakers, or you can purchase component speakers, which means you purchase the tweeters and woofers separately. There are many factors to consider when selecting car stereo speakers, including the size of the speakers, their sensitivity (which determines how much power is needed to achieve a certain volume level), their quality and power handling ability (lower-grade speakers sometimes cannot handle the power the stereo puts out, creating distorted sounds).

Another key component to many car stereo systems is the subwoofer. If you love the heart-pounding sounds of deep bass, a subwoofer is a necessity. The subwoofer for your vehicle is like one that works with your home stereo system, only a little smaller. They are generally the same cube shape, so it is necessary to find the proper placement in your vehicle, often in a trunk or hatch area.

DVDs and Video Players

Many vehicles, especially vans and SUVs, feature DVD and video players that have screens that fit on the driver and front passenger seat headrests. These allow your passengers in the back seat to watch videos while you are driving. This has proved to be a boon for families who like to take road trips with their children. A typical screen for these devices is 7 inches, although some run 9 inches or more. The screens work in conjunction with your stereo system, and many of them come with headphone jacks to allow passengers to listen to their videos at their desired levels. There are also DVD players that work for the front seat occupants, with a flip-down screen that attaches to the roof of the vehicle. GPS systems can be connected to these to assist drivers in their travels.

Backup Cameras and In-dash Cameras

Another component that works with video display screens are backup cameras. These devices have a small camera that in placed at the rear of the vehicle, then transmit radio signals to a display screen that the driver can see easily to help with backing up and virtually eliminate blind spots while driving.

Originally a law enforcement device, in-dash cameras are found on personal vehicles as well. These cameras have many purposes, with several uses related to accidents and insurance verification. They are also great ways to document sights seen while driving or recording suspicious activity around your vehicle. Many of these devices attach to your vehicle via suction cups that stick to the windshield or wherever you decide to place the camera.

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