As if iPhone owners needed another feather in their pretentious cap (we say as we gaze forlornly at our Blackberry and a 2-year binding contract).
Dubbed the Viper SmartStart, the newest iPhone application developed by Directed Electronics allows drivers to remotely control every SmartStart-equipped vehicle in their household via their cell phone. At first blush it may seem that the application provides very little beyond the functions of a traditional key fob, and that’s true – to a certain degree. Since this is software its basic capabilities will not be any more or less impressive than what your vehicle has already been equipped with, the only difference is the amount of distance allowed between you and the vehicle before the controls are rendered useless. With a key fob you’re basically good until about 100 unobstructed feet, 30 feet with considerable obstacles, but with the Viper SmartStart the cellular network allows you to access your vehicles controls from literally anywhere you have a signal.
Of course, the luxury of being able to impress the hell out of your friends usually comes with a steep price tag and the Viper SmartStart is no exception. For owners of vehicles that have already been equipped with the SmartStart module, the program can be had for a mere $299, but for owners not so fortunate the entire system comes with a $499 price tag.
Bottom line: there are some members of our staff with 13-year-old European cars whose key fobs haven’t worked since the Clinton Administration, so it’s difficult to feel sympathetic to drivers with functioning remotes who feel encumbered by the fact that they can’t lock their car without getting up from the La-Z-Boy and walking all the way over to the window…but that’s neither here nor there. If you’ve got a cool five hundo to blow, go for it.