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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review of OnStar FMV

When asked if I’d like to review the OnStar FMV mirror (a nav and communication device for your car), I was dubious. Not about the device, but about my ability to even do an automotive-related review. My husband was going to be traveling out of the country for weeks (so he wouldn’t be around to help or answer any questions), and I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination, a car person. But actually that’s what convinced me to do the review in the end. Because the OnStar system is supposed to help people just like me -- and it did.

I got the mirror installed and activated (both were surprisingly easy), and took my kids on a solo road trip to Tahoe. And you know what? The mirror worked like a champ! DSC_7689LR

Here’s what I liked:

  • A Real Live Person: I could press a button from anywhere (and believe me I tried it everywhere) and a bonafide human came on the line and helped me with any problem I was having.
  • Worked Even in Nowheresville: The OnStar mirror got service on even the most remote dirt roads at the very tippy-top of mountains in Tahoe. Places where my sad little in-car GPS threw up its hands and pathetically stuttered “Uh....... not on a digitized route...?”
  • Directionally Challenged Help: The operators (who gave me a thrill each time they answered with “Hello Mrs M, how can I help you today?”) would answer any questions (where’s the nearest gas/bathroom/icecream shop/etc) in person and then send the directions to my mirror. I got clear turn-by-turn directions every step of the way. And if anything was confusing, I just pushed the button again and the operator would clear things up for me. (Yeah I was a pest.) There was no possible way I could have been typing and retyping all of those things into my car GPS while I was driving those twisty mountain roads.
  • BlueTooth You Won’t Want to Chuck out the Window: The mirror has a built-in BlueTooth connection, which never has to be charged up. (My other BlueTooth device, an ugly, unreliable box clipped to my visor, is ALWAYS running out of charge at the worst times.)
  • Emergency Response During the Unthinkable: If, god forbid, my van is in a crash and I’m not conscious, the FMV mirror can automatically alert an OnStar Advisor. She’s immediately connected into the vehicle to see if we need help. This one function alone made me rest a little easier and feel more confident when tackling those skinny mountain passes with only my kiddos in the car. I also immediately taught them how to press the emergency button if they needed any help and I couldn’t do it.
  • Stand-in for Husband: Ha, just kidding on that title, but the OnStar actually does the things my husband normally would on a road trip -- get a tow truck, or get gas if we run out, or fix a flat tire -- basically fix any roadside snafu. And the cost is covered in your subscription. For someone whose husband travels all the dang time, this is so valuable.

The Particulars:

The OnStar FMV mirror is available in a bunch of retail stores now (Fry’s and Best Buy near me) for $300 and can be installed for about $100 on almost any vehicle. You buy a yearly subscription to either Directions & Connections (navigation plus emergency and roadside assistance) for $300 a year or Safe & Sound (emergency and roadside assistance) for $200 a year and then you’ve got a live person there with you wherever you drive. To find out more, visit the official OnStar site or your local Best Buy or Fry’s store. You can also check out the other bloggers' OnStar reviews and enter to win $100 by visiting the BlogHer Prizes and Promotions section.

Disclosure: I received an FMV mirror and trial service from OnStar in order to complete this review and I was compensated by BlogHer for writing this review. All opinions are my own.


Catherine said...

What great peace of mind this little tool offers. I have a few friends who are OnStar responders as there is a large OnStar phone centre here. Wonder if you chatted with any of them? Did any happen to sound like they spoke French? :o)

Annie said...

What a helpful review. I would never have considered one of these before but now I think it sounds really, really good. On Star should be thrilled they asked you to test it. I am now considering getting one for my new driver daughter!

backcountrybelle said...

Sounds like a great tool to keep us on the road safely, especially when our husbands aren't with us! I really like it.

Donna said...

I never knew anything like this existed. I couldn't survive without my GPS but you're right about how difficult it is to type into that danged thing while driving and it loses it's signal at the very worst times. I'm updated my Christmas list right now.


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Sis said...

wow I had no idea it could do so many things!