"miRoamer's development with Blaupunkt is the first seamless
Internet radio solution," said miRoamer founder and CEO George
Parthimos. "With the simple push of a button, users can access
AM/FM stations or Internet radio's thousands of music, entertainment, news and talk stations from around the world, all from the same car stereo."
MiRoamer dipped its toe in these waters last year, but the requisite hardware deals apparently didn't materialize. Now that Blaupunkt and miRoamer have formed a partnership, we could see in-car internet radio enter the mainstream.
"The first model will connect to a 3G/HSDPA/HSPA device via Bluetooth for Internet connectivity," explained miRoamer spokesman Ryan Greives. "When connecting to the Internet via an external device (such as an iPhone), the customer's existing mobile service provider is the default network," adding, "various models are in the pipeline which may have an internal modem."
With the radio connected to a smartphone on an unlimited data plan, these prototypes (the New Jersey 600i, pictured above, and the Hamburg
600i, below) will provide in-dash navigation of tens of thousands of miRoamer stations, already available via computer and available for access by car starting on January 1, 2009. Beyond that, the availability (and pricing) of Blaupunkt's internet car radios are unclear at this point, although Grieves confirmed that they will be available on original equipment in new cars, although surely the dedicated gadget head could find a way to get one installed.
miRoamer's claim that this is the first internet radio for the car seems a bit dubious on the surface. Indeed, although they are not elegant in-dash solutions, imeem, Pandora, SeeqPod, YouTube and other music services have been available on connected portables like the Apple iPhone and Windows Mobile for months. In addition, Autonet â€“ another CES exhibitor this year â€“ has offered in-car internet since last year that could potentially be used for music streaming from any number of providers. And, of course, satellite laptops can stream music to car stereos.
But miRoamer and Blaupunkt's prototypes appear to be the first models to offer in-dash internet radio. "Today, users want to jump in their car and go — no pulling out third-party devices or plugging in cords to access their music and information," according to Parthimos.
These stereos also offer phone, address book and navigation via
Bluetooth, but internet radio is the main attraction with the ability connect to tens of thousands of miRoamer stations as well as any other online playlist or MP3.
If you're diligent enough, you could post playlist files pointing to various MP3s on the internet, on a free blog site or anywhere else, since they don't occupy much disk space, since they just link to remote files. Then, you could bookmark those playlists on the Blaupunkt radio to access it all from the road. Another plus is that you can customize favorites, search options and more through your computer at miRoamer.com and access them later through the radio.