The 21st Century Driver

Despite what Nick Cage advocates, you should never drive angry. Unfortunately, being a wheelman in this day and age affords a man many opportunities to get the blood bubbling with rage. Classics like being cut off are practically de rigueur on any modern urban commute; and, certainly, SUVs swerving while their drivers load a Blu-ray for their kids in the backseat is a problem the pioneers of the automobile couldn’t have foreseen. While plenty are using technology for the powers of stupidity, others are applying hi-tech tools to turn their automobiles into oases of tranquillity. Here, four gadgets for the 21st century driver sure to help ease the tension.

Coffee Cup Power Inverter ($35)
This coffee cup replica from ThinkGeek fits inside any cup holder and will convert your DC power outlet — cigarette lighter plug-in, as many know it — into two 120-watt standard household sockets. From this single power source, you can charge your laptop and run a GPS unit, as well as power your iPod (off the cup’s USB outlet). On the off chance you max out thee 400-watt capabilities, the cup also has overload protection.

GoPoint App (“Free”)
Ever wonder if your mechanic is using that “check engine” light to make up a bunch of stuff and cash in on your suffering? The free GoPoint app can turn your iPad or iPhone into a powerful diagnostic tool. Sounds too good to be true? There is one hitch: You’ll need a GoPoint cable or wireless adapter ($100) to connect the device to your vehicle’s computer; not cheap, but consider that auto repair shops use similar systems that cost thousands of dollars. Once connected to the On-Board Diagnostics port, the app can tell you exactly what the manufacturer’s specific Diagnostic Trouble Code means in layman’s terms (ex: “check engine — P1693” is a Toyota-specific code meaning there’s a problem with the oil control valve).

GoPro HD Motorsports HERO Camera ($300)
Instead of being that jerk who slows down to take pictures of the wildlife (and put everyone’s life in danger at the same time), attach the GoPro Hero Motorsports edition camera, using the included suction mounts, to the inside of your windshield (or if you really want to go full-Knight Rider, you can mount the waterproof camera to your car’s body). You can record sections of your journey by activating the stunning 11-mega-pixel still or 1080p video camera with the optional Wi-Fi remote, or simply record the entire six-hour trip through the mountains on a massive 32GB SD memory card, and edit later.

In-Car Jumpstarter ($20)
From Wagan, the In-Car Jumpstarter works by connecting the dead automobile to the battery of a Good Samaritan’s ride via the cars’ DC outlets (again, cigarette lighters plug-ins — see “Coffee Cup Power Inverter,” above). The extra-long 18-foot cord will certainly be handy in situations when the dead car is parked in a spot that makes standard boosting difficult if not impossible, or when it’s just too damn cold to be outside fiddling with jumper cables and batteries.

Any nifty automotive gadgets/accessories you’d like to see on this list? Let us know in the Comments.

Image courtesy of x-ray delta one.

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