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  1. Hardware Review: Portal Media Bluetooth TPMS module

    by , 06-16-2014 at 11:31 AM

    What is it?

    The Portal Media Bluetooth TPMS module lets you monitor tire pressure wirelessly via Bluetooth.

    The Verdict:

    Portal Media's Bluetooth TPMS improves on the last generation of devices by allowing wireless communication via Bluetooth. The module is sleeker and reception appears improved. Once the kinks are worked out of the Android app, the Bluetooth TPMS module will be an awesome addition to any compatible car.


    Quite a few years ago at mp3Car's first national car PC meet, I was lucky enough to win a prize for having as many as 19 USB devices connected to my car PC. The prize received was USB number 20, a car PC connected tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) from Portal Media. Many years and several dead sensor batteries later, the device had served me well, but it was time for an upgrade. Luckily, the guys at Portal Media have been busy at work improving on their existing technology. For years it's seemed that the Bluetooth variant of their TPMS devices was simply an idea in our mp3Car forum, but the time has arrived, and the device really exists. I've been privileged to spend the last few weeks testing this new device out and getting to see if the wireless abilities actually improved the experience.

    Let's get the obvious information out of the way first. The tire sensors required for the Bluetooth TPMS device must be professionally installed, so be sure to account for the cost of installation when considering this purchase. My cost was roughly $30/tire, but yours can vary. Also, as if this review, there is no Apple or Windows application that will work with the Bluetooth TPMS module. It's unknown whether this will be created by Portal Media in the near future, but as the mp3Car community is founded on the idea of tinkering and fitting square pegs in round holes, I'm sure solutions will exist shortly. Once the sensors are installed in the tires, the rest of the process of setting the system up is a breeze. The TPMS module is smaller and sleeker this time around, so it's easy to plug into any available 12v source and slide in a glove box or other compartment. It's recommended to install the device in a centralized location in relation to the tire sensors, but I've had far more success with reception despite installation location in comparison to the USB unit. Once the device is mounted and powered, the Android application will need to be downloaded from the Play Store. Once the app is installed, its time to begin the process of synchronizing the tire sensors to the Bluetooth module. Check out the video below on the steps required here.

    The Android application for the Bluetooth TPMS is very easy to use. The user interface is very simple, and once the sensors are learned, it will quickly and accurately report sensor information. In the app settings, there are a large number of variables which control sensor alert notifications and display preferences. The app is not without faults though. I have the application installed on three of my Android devices; A Samsung tablet with QHD resolution, a Samsung smartphone with HD resolution, and the ODROID X-2 Android low resolution head unit. Each instance gives me a different take on the app. The smartphone displays the perfect scaling of text, buttons, and images. On the tablet, the buttons are very small and often a chore to press, and the vehicle image and text does not scale to make use of the added real estate. The ODROID's low resolution allows for the buttons and images to display correctly, but the text is too large for the bubble window it's presented in. Portal Media has acknowledged some of the drawbacks of the app, and is aggressively working to correct the issues.

    Ultimately, the experience of being free of the installed car PC screen when dealing with my tire pressure is a much needed improvement. Rather than having to run back and forth between tires and the monitor to check pressure levels, I can take my tablet with me to each tire. I'll still receive alert notifications through my Android car PC, but the flexibility to use an additional screen when I choose is awesome.

    The Positive:

    Module has a sleeker and smaller profile
    Tire sensor reception seems improved
    Android ability allows for cross-device usage
    Easy learning and setup process

    The Negative:

    No current iPod or Windows support
    Android app is functional, but will need work

    The Verdict:

    Portal Media's Bluetooth TPMS improves on the last generation of devices by allowing wireless communication via Bluetooth. The module is sleeker and reception appears improved. Once the kinks are worked out of the Android app, the Bluetooth TPMS module will be an awesome addition to any compatible car.

  2. Introducing Mimics. The ultimate iPhone-in-your-car experience

    by , 05-19-2011 at 03:53 PM

    Mimics Dash allows you to operate an iPhone via a touch screen monitor installed in your vehicle. After installing Mimics Dash, simply plug your iPhone in each time you enter your vehicle and enjoy the convenience of all of your iPhone's apps, music, phone, and navigation features on a safe, easy-to-use touch screen monitor. By bridging the gap between your iPhone and your car, Mimics becomes the ultimate in-car entertainment system.

    Here's how it works: The touch interface is interpreted by the module and transmitted via Bluetooth to your iPhone. Genius! Now you can control your phone from the monitor! The Module draws power from the Lilliput monitor, and video is supplied to the monitor via the Apple HDMI dock connector (optional). Audio is supplied to your aftermarket amplifier* via the 3.5mm jack on your iPhone (optional). Choose the Mimics Cable Option and we'll give you all of the necessary cables needed to get video and audio out from your phone and be able to charge while driving.

    Made specifically for your vehicle, Mimics Dash is engineered to be an easy install (or have your local car stereo shop do it for you):
    1. Remove your existing dash panel
    2. Install the Mimics Dash
    3. Install an aftermarket amplifier* of your choice
    4. Connect the Mimics Cable kit and you're ready to go

    Pre Order NOW
    Everything you wanted to know about Mimics
    Talk about Mimics in our forums


    Updated 05-22-2011 at 01:47 AM by optikalefx

    Products and Technology
  3. The making of the Apple ,mac'ed out, Hyundai Genesis

    by , 11-05-2008 at 11:48 AM

    mp3car interviews Steven from Lux designs, the creator and fabricator behind the Hyundai genesis Mac car computer setup. Talk about this on our forums

    Updated 09-17-2009 at 04:20 PM by ecog

    Technology Events