Oct 13, 2014
Yes, smartphone accessories are big business, and we enjoy using a variety of them. Still, the ways one can expand on “regular” smartphone functionality are ever expanding, and the Automatic Smart Driving Assistant is arguably one of the better ones.
It’s small, rectangular-cuboid, infinitely portable and possessive of the pins in the connected side. Functionality-wise, the Smart Driving Assistant works as an On-Board Diagnostic port plugin; it accumulates data and presents it with the help of the companion. The ODB port is the same one that might be used by one’s mechanic, so the information collected can be valuable.
Setup is relatively easy, and involves plugging in the accessory to the car, running the app and pairing to the unit via smartphone bluetooth. The built-in tutorial helps simplify the process even further, and the app even has a scanner contained to capture the vehicle VIN. The app then creates a car profile.
After pairing is completed, the app can give an idea of how the app can be useful. The vehicle make and model is prominently displayed, and there are numerical points that are mapped to measure mileage, time, fuel costs and mileage-to-gallon rate. The app is easy to manipulate, and also easy on the eyes. There are not a whole lot of frills in the app, and the data is presented in an easy format overall.
Functionally, the unit does what it says it will do. It gives a periodic driving score which maxes out at 100 for the perfect driver; it rates metrics like highway driving, hard breaking and rapid acceleration, and creates a percentage score; it notes that the higher the score, the more one might save on cash over time. it also analyzes “check engine” codes, and monitors and acts upon crash alerts (where the unit and app react to serious impact). In the latter case scenario, the app can summon help in the event that the user is incapacitated or otherwise unable to get help him/herself. We were not able to actually test the check engine or crash detection uses (with good reason), but these advertised features — which do not require any extra subscription — feel good to have, even if they are heavily dependent on cellular coverage.
Using it in multiple vehicles is possible, but the singular profile makes it a bit harder to use one unit wih a household of drivers. It doesn’t interfere with other use of Bluetooth, though; some features might feel a bit redundant, which might make the $99 price tag a bit harder to swallow.
For an ultra-powerful, connected auto tool that can actually add to one’s life expectancy, this one is hard to sneeze at.