Monday, August 15, 2011

OnStar FMV Review

I live in a rural area.  Our first grocery store in our “town” (I’m not sure it’s even called that…) is currently being built.    We do most of our errand-running seven miles down the highway in the next town over.  For anything else, we drive about 30 miles to the  Big City.   We make that drive to the Big City at least once a week.  It’s only 30 miles, but the majority of those 30 miles are surrounded by a huge lake on one side and an even bigger mountain range on the other.   In the winter there are frequently complete white-out conditions.  I’ve gone off the road once due to black ice in the middle of a sunny, clear day.  We’ve witnessed more accidents than I’d care to remember on the way to and from the Big City.
I get lost frequently.  I’m actually quite good at figuring out my compass points, but using those to actually navigate me through city streets and highways, not so much.  I can tell you I’m facing west, but how to actually get to a destination on the west side?  Major issues there.  I’ve made 20 minute drives into two-hour epic journeys more times than I’d care to admit.
My co-pilots on nearly any and all errand-running and trips are my three beautiful children.
Well, three and a half.  IMG_5983I have a lot to think about, a lot to be concerned over.  I do what I can to keep us all safe, but there are some things out of my control.
When presented with the opportunity to use and review the new OnStar FMV, I jumped at the chance. The idea of having an immediate, direct contact when needed with a real person was my main motivation.   With OnStar, you’re never really alone.  Having a non-GM minivan, OnStar has never been an option for us before.  But with the new FMV Mirror, pretty much any vehicle can now be equipped with very little effort, other than purchasing the thing, subscribing to the service, and getting it all set up.
The OnStar FMV is actually a replacement for your regular old review mirror.  It’s no more intrusive than that, plus a fun little “bug” microphone.  IMG_5971The installation for the mirror was super quick and easy.  I found a place, fairly close in the Big City, to install it, took it in, 1.5 hours later, they called me back to pick up my car with it’s fancy-schmancy new OnStar mirror and I was good to go.  That’s it. 

After picking up my car for the first time, before even leaving the parking lot of the audio center that did the installation, I decided to try out the services.  I pushed the iconic blue button.  A few rings and a friendly voice greeted me and asked what she could do to help me.  I felt kind of lame, since I really was just playing with it.  So I told her that.  She laughed and said, “Well, it looks like everything in your car is running great.  You’re located at______.  Is there anything else you need?”  And then, I’ll admit, I felt a little weird.  I mean what else did she know about me?  But really, it was also super cool! 

A few days later we decided to try out the turn-by-turn navigation features.  Blue button pushed, Friendly Voice asking what they could do for me.  My boys thought it was officially The Coolest Thing Ever.  The whole conversation I had with the OnStar advisor my kids were giggling and “wowing” in the background.  I told her where I wanted to go, she already knew where I was, she confirmed my desired destination and the directions were sent directly to my OnStar.  From there out, an automated voice navigated us through to the end.

My husband has a GPS unit.  It’s pretty cool and I thought I’d miss not having the screen to show me where I was going.  I did miss not being able to see as I was hearing, but I actually liked having just the voice, too.  I didn’t have to divert my attention to a screen.  The voice repeated the directions every few moments as we got closer to the next turn, so that I wouldn’t miss anything due to kids being kids in the back of the van.  And we got to our destination without a glitch.
Another thing I really liked that the GPS doesn’t have is a real human to help me figure out where I want to go to begin with.  I really stink at spelling.  No, really, it’s bad news.  Having to type out on a little screen my interpretation of the spelling of anywhere is pretty much a total challenge.  And there is no way I could do it while driving, at least not safely.  With the OnStar, I just push the button, get a live person to discuss things with, then we’re good to go.  As a person who starts hitting the “0” as soon as an automated system comes on when calling a service center, I love, LOVE getting directly through to a real person every time I hit that magical blue button. 
We’re going on a big, multi-state road trip in a little over a month.  I can’t wait to use the OnStar.  We’re going somewhere neither my husband nor I am familiar with at all.  Having the security of OnStar with it’s always-there and always-friendly advisors is a huge comfort in planning that trip.  And hopefully we’ll not have a need for it at all, but the security of knowing the emergency services are also just a button-press away is even more of a comfort. 

So far, my only issue with the OnStar FMV is also one of the biggest perks: the ease of use.  It’s just a push of a button.  We’ve had multiple talks with the kids about how they are to never, ever, ever push any of the buttons on the new mirror.  Not that my kids are really ever in the car alone, but still.  It’s just *right* there, so easy to use, so very enticing for tiny hands to play with.  So far we’ve had no issues, but I do worry that in the near future my three-year old will have his own private conversation with an OnStar advisor.  So to that advisor, I apologize in advance. 

When I think about OnStar, I’ve decided it’s kind of like insurance.   It provides peace of mind and eliminates many of the “what-ifs” in traveling with the Roadside Assistance, Emergency Response, Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Assistance.  But better than insurance, you don’t have to have anything bad happen to use the other features.  The Turn-by-Turn Navigation and the Hands-Free Calling are already becoming quick favorites around here, and I can see us using them regularly. 

With OnStar always on and always ready to go, I know my children and I are that much safer while traveling.  The next time I’m looking for a new address, I’m totally pushing that Blue Button before even starting out, to avoid my usual creative detours and navigating.  Having OnStar FMV along for the ride, our 30 minute trips to the Big City seem less lonely and desolate.  It’s nice to have one less thing to worry about with a van full of small children, who hopefully will keep their curious fingers away from that tempting blue button!
Visit the Facebook page to learn even more and to read what others are saying about the FMV Mirror.  And check out other bloggers’ reviews of On Star FMV by visiting the Prizes and Promotions section. What will you use OnStar for?


Reno said...

Fun! (You know I like these toys.) It almost makes me wish I went more places than just over the bridge to Hurricane.

Sew Much Ado said...

Yay for FMV! I agree with everything you said :). I've actually considered pressing the button before just to get the advisor to talk to my kids, do you think that's included? :)

cath said...

I had On Star in a car I bought years ago. When I found out that anyone can have On Star now, I thought to myself "FINALLY". It really is the coolest thing, and the security it gives you while driving is amazing. Glad you and your little ones are safe and sound with the extra security on board. And have FUN on your trip... :D

Aleah'sMommy said...

As an OnStar advisor I really love seeing the positive commentary from everyone. It really makes me even more proud to be an advisor & work in one of the OnStar call centers. Have fun on your next road trip & who knows...maybe you will get me one time you call in :) To Swe Much Ado: yes talking to the kids is included. I have spoken with several kids of varying ages that give the address for the adult in the car, or they want to ask if I'm really a real person, or anything else they can think of to ask. Its really cute to hear the excitement in a childs voice when we acknowledge that they are in the car & we can hear them too.


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