Sterling had a Hummer H2 at the show outfitted with the company's mobile ISP system and we gotta admit, it was pretty cool. A large LCD television in the back of the H2 was showing streaming video from Sterling's Slingbox back home. Granted, the quality is not something you'd want on the 102" LCD we saw at CES, but for something beamed to a satellite, then back to Earth to Sterling's house, crammed through the cellular network, through a cell tower then into the Autonet system, it wasn't unwatchable. He went on to demonstrate streaming Internet radio and said he could also access his iTunes library at his house from the road, making all those in-dash hard-drives look old school.
We weren't able to check out how well the system works while rolling, but Sterling claims the Autonet box will eliminate any gaps in service while traveling and smooth out transitions from one cell tower to the next.
Any wi-fi able device will be able to take advantage of the mobile ISP which will be hugely useful to business travellers and a great entertainment option for casual travellers. Expect to see the device on Avis rental cars this year in 10 major cities for an extra charge. Sterling tells us consumers should be able to pick an Autonet up for their own cars in August for about $399 and $49 a month for service. Hopefully we can get our hands on one soon to let you know how it works in RL.
And, yes, it is potentially another in-car distraction for drivers. But imagine being able to park your car outside your cheap-ass hotel that doesn't have wireless access and surf the net? Or give the kids their X-Box in the back seat to continue their online conquests?