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Scripting a macro with firefox imacro?

by ADRIENNE224 on Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:10 pm

Dream machine

Car entertainment is set to brighten up the long hours on the road these holidays, writes Rod Easdown. Technology has been moving fast with in-car entertainment. These days you can get a great result in a car for a surprisingly modest budget. "Sound quality is demonstrably better than it has ever been - in fact, it's often too good for a noisy car environment," Alpine's Paul Graham says. "It's not difficult now to find amplifiers and $500 in-dash CD players that are extremely accurate and speakers that are high-quality, linear and durable for under $200." And it's not just sound - vision is coming to the fore and for parents it is proving a sanity saver on long journeys. They can set the kids up with a back-seat movie and just about forget they are in the car. Once there is a screen it is relatively easy to add a television tuner and even wire in the kids' PlayStation or Xbox.

Read More: Car speakers, Best car speakers

While it is illegal to have an entertainment screen within sight of the driver while the car is moving, it is perfectly OK for back-seat passengers. Michael Stephens, at Freeway Car Audio in Malvern, says he is fitting a dozen a month, mostly to people movers. And this is just the start. Pioneer has an in-dash CD player that can store up to 200 CDs on a 10-gigabyte hard drive. Alpine has a system that calibrates itself to the acoustics of the cabin each time it is turned on. And Blaupunkt has radio tuners that digitise the radio signals to enhance the sound and filter out interference.

Voice control, which Pioneer's manager of technical support and training, John Graham, was first demonstrating five years ago, is popping up everywhere. "It started out slowly but clearly its time has come," he says. "It can operate the phone, the audio, the air-conditioning, all while the driver has both hands on the wheel." Pretty soon your car will interface with your home or office computer so a voice synthesiser can read you your e-mail on the way to work and take your dictated replies while your organiser plugs into a cradle and doubles as a satellite-navigation system. But with the holidays coming and long hours on the road looming, let's talk here and now.

For parents the pressing question is screens. And here the first law of audio is at its strongest: you get exactly what you pay for. You can get movies in the car for under $1000 if you shop around. That will buy you a 10cm, 12-volt screen that can be mounted at the end of the console to face the rear seat, driven by a 12-volt video player in the boot, where it is controlled with a remote. It is basic, you will have to stop the car at the end of each video to reload and it will do little for the cabin's aesthetics, but it works. Or you can install a boot-mounted DVD stacker, a separate television tuner and a games console and have them all feeding to a couple of screens mounted in the roof or at the rear of the front-seat head restraints.

Rear-seat passengers can then choose between games, movies or broadcast TV, listening through cordless headphones. The budget here will run into five figures. In between is a vast array of choices, and Stephens says most of his customers spend between $3000 and $10,000. If you want to do things properly think along the following lines: get an in-dash DVD player with dual programs. This means it can deliver two different audio streams at once: the movie soundtrack to those in the rear watching the movie, and the radio (or a CD if a $400 CD stacker is fitted) to those in the front. This will cost about $1800. Now get a fold-down roof screen. The advantage of this is it can fold up into the roof and will not be noticed by people checking out your parked car for valuables.

This will cost about $2000 and will probably have the hardware in it to drive infra-red cordless headphones, which cost about $200 a pair. This system totals about $4000, or $4400 if you add a CD stacker. Add about $200 for a professional installation and it will look like it has always been part of the car. If you think no one would spend that on a system for the car, think again. John Graham says when Pioneer introduced its first car DVD stacker, costing $3000, it brought in what it thought would be a year's supply and sold out in three weeks.

Paul Graham believe screens will become commonplace in cars and says the only thing holding them back is that few people know this is possible. The best in-car screens are being turned out by the in-car entertainment brands such as Kenwood, Panasonic, Alpine, Pioneer, Clarion and Blaupunkt. While in-dash screens and screens that mount on flat surfaces are available, roof screens are proving most popular, particularly those that incorporate infrared senders to drive cordless headphones and a dome light (which they frequently replace). Screens are legal in the front seat but must not show entertainment while the car is moving.

It is perfectly legal, however, to have satellite-navigation mapping on display. For those moving into a new city this is a godsend, not only showing the way, but also giving a surprisingly accurate arrival time. After-market systems with full mapping are available from about $3500. Systems that display only arrowed directions on a small, monochrome screen start from about $2500. Innovation has been swift with in-car entertainment because people are spending so much time on the road and want quality entertainment. Around about now you may be asking an entirely valid question: if such good results are possible, why is it most car stereos sound so crook? This is because car makers make cars, not stereos, and those they fit to their cars have usually been chosen on the basis of cost.
See Also: best car speakers, best car speaker brands
Often the deck itself is of reasonable quality; car manufacturers save money by using cheap speakers. Dial in some bass and turn the volume up and these will drop their bundle very quickly. Car cabins are a hostile environment for sound and vision. As well as having lots of hard surfaces, such as glass, steel and plastic, which reflect and brighten sound harshly, there are also lots of soft surfaces including upholstery, rubber, carpeting and indeed people, which soak up the sound. In a closed environment this small it does not take much to change the acoustics - even tossing a blanket over the rear seat can alter the way sound disperses.

Then there is the positioning of the speakers. Short of sitting on the hand brake, you are never going to be mid-way between the speakers in the "sweet spot" - one of the reasons audiophiles say great sound quality is not possible in a car. They are well behind the technology. One of the spin-offs of digital music is digital signal processing (DSP), and this has brought a raft of benefits. One of the big ones is electronic time alignment. This delays selected signals by a few milliseconds so that if you happen to be sitting with the right speaker at your knee and the left on the other side of the cabin, the right signal can be delayed so it will reach your ears at exactly the same time as the left signal, which has further to travel.

This gives a far more accurate stereo image than playing around with a balance control. Usually the selector will let you choose between settings for the driver only, the driver and a front-seat passenger, or for a car full of people. The next step is adding equalisation to allow you to tailor the sound to the acoustics of the cabin. Equalisation allows weaker areas of the audible sound spectrum to be beefed up and hot spots to be reduced. It has been used in cars for so many years that decks that automatically do their own equalisation are available. Blaupunkt has just launched some clever radio technology, called Digiceiver, in its Orlando and Miami CD72 models, that digitises radio signals and uses DSP technology to enhance them, strengthening weak signals and removing much of the interference.
It is the first time anyone has been able to digitise an analogue radio signal and it works on AM and FM. Paul Graham believes car audio is getting so good that he can see the time coming when the car will be the last refuge - the place where people can listen to quality audio without any hassles. And maybe catch a movie. SPEAKING OF SOUND The quickest and cheapest way to improve your car's audio is to build on the factory system already fitted. But most people make a fundamental error right at the start: they replace the deck. What should be thrown away are the factory-fitted speakers. Car makers fit the cheapest speakers they can. Replace them with quality units that cost anything from $100 to $150 a pair and you will immediately hear a breathtaking improvement. Only then should you think about changing the deck.

You may also want to consider adding a little extra power with an external amplifier, and perhaps adding a subwoofer. Subwoofers are not all about pumping out doof-doofs in traffic. A sub that is nicely tuned will counteract all the subsonics of a car, making the music far more even and adding great presence. The best subwoofer installations are the ones you cannot hear - what you do hear is crystal-clear music. MEMORY STICKS For the future of in-car entertainment look no further than Pioneer's $4999 DEHP900HDD single-CD player. It is a standard-sized deck equipped with a 10-gigabyte hard drive that can store up to 200CDs and automatically title them and make a track listing. To store a CD in its memory all you do is touch the record button and play it. The CD is then available in the car until you erase it.
Read more: Best car speakers, best car speakers in the world

The player is Memory Stick-compatible, a hint to the likely direction of audio in years to come. Increasing components will be linked by memory cards, using them as databases for music. The memory capacity is expected to be measured in gigabytes in the near future. Seven photos: Clockwise from top left (this page) Pioneer AVR-W6100, Alpine roof screen and Blaupunkt Miami CD72; From Alpine, BMWX5 Interior (top) and Maybach DVA5205 (below).
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