As the automotive guru at a tech site, I get a wide range of products flung across my desk from passive-aggressive coworkers, but one of the cooler gadgets to smack me in the face recently (that was a mean toss, Steve) was the Monster iMotion CarPlay 3000. Apart from the fancy-sounding name, the iMotion CarPlay 3000 serves a simple purpose: It directly connects your iPod, iPad, and iPhone to your car’s auxiliary port while at the same time charging through a 12-volt port.
Many devices do the same, but the iMotion allows you to control playback simply by waving your hand in front of the devices motion control sensors that are located at its face. And “simple” is really the key word here. Changing tracks is as easy as waving your hand in various motions to achieve a designated effect. For example: waving your hand from left to right results in the track being changed. Waving your hand in one smooth Jedi-like motion backwards causes your track to skip back. Turns out, that was the track I was looking for.
It all sounds rather straightforward and intuitive – and it is. Switching tracks soon becomes second nature and the motion detection from the device is surprisingly competent. Both the iPod and iPad I connected were able to skip back and forth through their respective libraries — one filled with about 80GB of music and the other shuffling through my Spotify playlists/Pandora tracks – with relative ease.
There are some drawbacks, though, and you astute Padawans will have no doubt already picked up on them. Generally speaking, the iMotion works great, but like a growing child, requires the right kind of nurturing environment to truly thrive. One of my test cars, a 2010 Toyota Corolla, happened to be that perfect environment. Others, like the 2013 Lexus GS 350, were not. In the Toyota, both the auxiliary and charging port are located centrally and near the center stack. For a device like the iMotion, it’s essential for these ports to be near each other, otherwise it simply won’t work. You’ll end up being able to connect the aux port and not the 12-volt, or vice versa. This isn’t a poor reflection of Monster’s design, but rather the lack of uniformity that exists from carmaker to carmaker.
The bottom line is: Depending on what type of car you have, and where your ports are located, the iMotion will either work or it won’t. So be sure to check out your car’s setup before you buy.
Another drawback of the device is its sensitivity. Waving your arms with purpose will generally get you the desired result, but for those that have a manual gearbox be prepared for some frustrating times. Here the iMotion has a tendency to pick up on your hand movements even when you don’t want it to with rather annoying results, such as track skips and music pauses. Obviously this can’t be helped, so if you’re one of the few out there that still loves shifting manually (we are a dying breed) then the Monster iMotion is not for you.
Altogether, the Monster iMotion CarPlay 3000 is a cool device and one that I would be willing to recommend even in spite of its hypersensitive motion detection and compatibility issues with some vehicles. But like many, many Monster products before it, the iMotion CarPlay300 carries with it a rather hefty price tag: $120. Of course you can find it for as little as $90 on Amazon, but being one Hamilton short of Franklin seems like a lot for what turns out to be a glorified car charger.
Still, if keeping your eyes on the road is a big concern, price doesn’t matter, you drive an automatic, and you’re looking for a novel way to control your iDevices via gesture controls, then the iMotion CarPlay 3000 just might be the device you’re looking for.