Theoretically, we shouldn't drive while playing with gadgets. But at stop lights and while we're waiting for roadtrip passengers to finish buying cornchips at the gas station quickmart, well, OK.
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Scrolling LED Message Sign With Remote: There's so much to say to your fellow drivers on the road that the finger, two signal directions, high beams and horns don't cover. Can you really put a price on the ability to articulate "YOU DRIVE LIKE SHIT", "PLEASE SIGNAL", "DO NOT TAILGATE" and "PLEASE LEAVE THE FAST LANE IF YOU ARE DRIVING 50MPH". $40 [Thinkgeek]
Valentine One Radar Detector: It's still the best radar detector. With sensors forward and aft and an increasing frequency of beeps correlating to strength of signal, you can tell if smokey was passing you on the highway, is creeping up from behind or is sitting dead forward in a speed trap. $400 [ValentineOne]
MiFi Wi-Fi 3G Wireless Router: Car internet was but a dream. Then people started cludging together routers and 3G cards, and it was a little bit more of a nightmare. The little MiFi runs on Verizon's reliable 3G network, supports a few clients and has more than enough Wi-Fi range for your car (or a giant RV). Since it fits in the palm of your hand, stashing it under a seat or in a glovebox is easy. We don't recommend hard wiring these things, either, since they run off batteries for awhile, too. $100 with two year $60 contract [Mifi on Giz]
Duracell Powerpack 450 Talking Portable Power Unit: This portable battery has enough 110v power to run a laptop for 8 hours, jump start a car and inflate tires with its built in air compressor. It also has built in voice prompts to walk you through the process of jump starting, in case you or your loved ones don't remember if its black before red or the other way around. $120 Bonus: Black and Decker's 200-watt inverter turns your 12v cigarette adapter into a 110volt plug for $35. [Duracell Powerpack on Giz]
Wagan Ergo Comfort Rest Heated Massage Car Seat Cushion: The good doctor has made this 12v car seat cover that heats and massages. Knowing the power output a 12v plus is capable of, I'm doubtful this thing will do anything but get warm and vibrate a little bit. But if you need a car cover, a few degrees and some artificially induced butt modulation never made a long car ride any worse. And for $33, it's not such a big risk. [Amazon]
Wavebox Car Microwave/cooler: I don't think this is a good idea. I just think it's kind of cool to be able to make popcorn while you drive. I mean, with the proper in-dash DVD system, I'm halfway to feeling better that drive-in movie theaters are dead. Halfway. I wouldn't rank this a do not buy, but I wouldn't want you to ignore the 1.5 star Amazon rating, either. $300 [Wavebox on Giz, Amazon]
DON'T BUY My Pee Pee Bottle: A nalgene-style bottle for peeing in on road trips. Bad idea. Just pull over — you're not on the Cannonball Run nor are you some trucker late for his interstate Ikea drop off. Just pull over! [Jalopnik]
DON'T BUY Top of the Line Garmin GPS: The Nuvi 1690 is great. It has wireless search and traffic, lane suggestion and a Bluetooth speakerphone with dialing for your cellphone. It's also $500 and is a total waste of money. Smartphones are going to replace these sorts of connected GPS. One day. For now, a good touchscreen GPS should be bought from Garmin by checking prices to see what's on sale for a little over $100. Like this Nuvi 260W that is on sale for $117. For GPS apps, we recommend the free and built-in Google Maps Navigation program on Android, and Motion X GPS for the iPhone, which is a great value at $25 per year. (But not a very visceral good gift, as an app, especially since there are subscription fees after awhile.)
Don't forget to recommend your own favorite Car Gadget in comments-include pics and pricing if possible.
All Giz Wants is our annual round-up of favorite gift ideas, including amazing attainable objects and a few far-out fantasies. We'll be popping guides catered to different interests several times per day for the next week, so keep checking back.