It's a wild, wild world we're living in. These days, cars don't just get you places -- they offer a place for your gadgets to feel cradled. Toyota recently announced that the 2013 Avalon Limited would have a wireless Qi charging station in the console, and now BMW is going a step above on its own with built-in LTE technology. Automotive 3G hotspots have been around, but they've been wildly expensive and pretty tough to find in terms of factory integration. But BMW's new Car Hotspot LTE will be able to snap right into the console of BMW Connected automobiles.
All that is required apart from the BMW Car Hotspot LTE is an LTE-capable SIM card, which is simply inserted into the hotspot. It can then shoot 3G or 4G signals to up to eight Wi-Fi devices, and pairing can happen via a PIN or NFC chip. Here's a bit more according to BMW:
The BMW Car Hotspot LTE accessory is designed for optimal operation in any vehicle of the BMW Group equipped with a telephone docking station. The docking station provides the power supply and ensures optimal reception. When placed in the BMW docking station, the BMW Car Hotspot LTE connects to the internet using the vehicle aerial. This means that reception cannot be impaired for example by tinted windows, while also preventing radiation inside the vehicle. But it is also possible to use the BMW LTE Hotspot even without a docking station. In this case, using an optionally available adapter and mini-USB cable, the power is provided by plugging the BMW Car Hotspot LTE into the cigarette lighter. This means the hotspot can be used in any vehicle.
A built-in battery pack means that the BMW Car Hotspot LTE can even be used outside the vehicle. Away from an external power supply – for example on a picnic or inside a holiday apartment – the hotspot can provide internet access for about an hour. The built-in battery can then be recharged in about 30 minutes, either at a power socket or at the docking station. Needless to say, the device can also be operated during charging.
In order to minimize radiation both in and outside the vehicle, the BMW Car Hotspot LTE offers a choice of reception range. The factory-preset range of about three metres is optimised for use inside a vehicle, but if necessary a ten-meter range can be selected, ensuring an optimal WLAN connection both inside and outside the vehicle.
There's no pricing at the moment, but it should become available shortly to drivers in Europe. The roads just got a lot friendlier.