After months of delay because of technical testing, Microsoft Corp. and Clarion Corp. last week finally launched the Auto PC, a voice-controlled device that integrates computing processes with a car stereo.
Built to fit into a standard radio slot in the dashboard, the Auto PC allows drivers to control a digital radio, a CD player, a cellular phone and a navigation system. It also taps into voice synthesis to read incoming e-mail, traffic reports and a person's personal phone directory.
The Auto PC also lets users swap data with any infrared-capable computer device, such as hand-held organizers including the Palm Pilot.
The $1,299 machine, based on Intel Corp.'s microprocessors and Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, was unveiled in January. Billed as a way to help motorists travel more efficiently and safely, the device was also an opportunity for Microsoft and Intel to move into new markets for non-PC computing devices.