From connected dashboards to built-in auto pilot, today's cars are fitted with some of the most advanced tech we've seen. But not everyone can afford to splurge on a brand-new automobile, so we've listed our favorite gadgets and devices that can help turn your current clunker into a high-tech ride — as well as a few non-commuting related gifts that the car lover in your life is sure to appreciate.
This is not the most glamorous in-car tech, but when you're behind the steering wheel, nothing is handier than a mobile-phone holder. We like the Mpow's offering because it's sturdy yet inexpensive, mounts to your windshield securely with strong suction, and works universally with all devices big and small, from the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 to the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 9.
Phones are getting bigger all the time — just look at the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max. That's why it pays to have a car mount that is specially designed to accommodate heavier handsets with wider footprints, like iOttie's new iTap 2 solutions. They're available in dashboard, windshield, vent and CD slot variants and incorporate easily-removable magnetic plates to ensure nothing slides about or takes a tumble during an impromptu stop or a bout of aggressive cornering.
Let's face it: Incidents on the road are, to a certain extent, unavoidable. And when somebody rolls into you at a traffic light or sideswipes your car while it's parked on the street, you're going to wish you had some sort of evidence. Fortunately, Aukey makes an inexpensive, yet reliable dash cam that discreetly sits behind your rearview mirror, easily adheres to your windshield and even has an emergency recording mode triggered by motion.
While an increasing number of cars are rolling off the production line with backup cameras installed, it's still a rarity in older models. Enter eRapta's modestly priced ERT01. This camera offers high-definition optics and grid lines for a clear view of what's behind your vehicle, as well as adjustability to suit all body styles. With IP69 waterproofing, you can expect this camera to stand up to inclement weather, too. Just be advised that you'll need to buy a display, sold separately, to see what the camera is recording.
The Autel AutoLink connects to your car's OBD-II port to provide you with vehicle diagnostics and tons of performance stats. The data can be used to identify and fix intermittent problems, like whatever's causing your engine light to turn on. It's an invaluable tool for the DIY car mechanic who's looking to save money.
Commuters love to multitask whenever possible. And if you consider yourself a coffee lover, it's hard to imagine a better way to get more out of your morning drive than with Handpresso's Auto Hybrid espresso maker. This compact contraption sits in your cup holder and draws power from the electrical port in your car to brew a piping-hot, fresh cup of espresso in minutes. It's convenient, because you can use pods like those you see in the supermarket or, better yet, up your game with some fresh-ground coffee.
It's 2018 — everyone should have the ability to stream tunes to their car stereos. With Mpow's auxiliary Bluetooth adapter, you can do exactly that. This dongle plugs in to your car's 3.5mm port and can connect to two devices simultaneously, so passengers can share DJ duties. It also boasts excellent battery life, delivering 11 hours of playback on a full 45-minute charge.