Tailgating Tech

Essential technology for your next tailgating event

Tailgating before a game or concert is a serious affair, one that can easily outshine the event itself. Whether you're tailgating before an event or tailgating is the event, you've got to come prepared. There's certainly no shortage of tailgating accessories: decorations, invitations, team flags, comfy seats, canopies, hitch-mount grills, and even specialty trailers that open up to a full bar. But before you go splurging on items like a motorized ride-on cooler, be sure you have the electronics covered. Here are five tips for making your tailgating party come alive:

Make Some Noise: Music is an essential part of any party, even if that party is on a crowded blacktop. Satellite radio is perfect for both party tunes and coverage of the game. You can add satellite radio to your vehicle using a portable receiver or built into a new aftermarket car stereo. If you really want to bring the noise, an aftermarket audio system installed in your vehicle will let you play DJ for the fans around you and several rows away. A multimedia receiver, high-power amplifiers and separate speakers and subwoofer enclosure will keep you rockin' on the way to the game and all the way through it.

Stay Tuned: Whether you're tailgating before heading into the stadium, or watching the game from Lot A, you'll definitely want to catch the coverage on TV. Rear seat entertainment systems are perfect for tailgating, as well as keeping your passengers entertained during the off season. Professional installers can mount video monitors just about anywhere, like the rear seat headrests, hatch or tailgate of your vehicle. So you have a screen, but what about a signal? A mobile satellite dish, like those from KVH Industries, permanently mounts to the roof of your vehicle to allow you to receive satellite TV programming wherever you go (even as you drive) with no hassle. You could also connect your car's video monitors to a portable in-car HDTV tuner, like those from SAVV Mobile Multimedia, to intercept the free HDTV broadcasts from your local stations.

Create Your Own Press Box: When you and your friends are tailgating, you want to be connected to the action. A 3G mobile broadband card for your laptop will let you get scores, keep up with fantasy leagues and check your spot in the office pool. If you're tailgating with multiple techies, you'll definitely want a mobile hotspot, like Novatel's MiFi mobile broadband router, available from both Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Powered by a built-in rechargeable battery pack or a car adapter, it serves as a mobile hotspot for up to five WiFi-enabled devices simultaneously. That means that smartphones, MP3 players, laptops and other WiFi devices can connect and share a single high-speed broadband connection, even in the stadium lot.

Make a Power Play: Without power, many of your tailgating electronics won't work. Your car's 12-Volt accessory outlet can power most portable electronics, but what if you need household-style AC plugs? A DC-to-AC power inverter plugs into your car's 12-Volt outlet and in return gives you an AC plug for powering a TV or other electronics. If you are powering multiple devices, consider a stand alone power source like Duracell's Powerpack. Unlike loud generators, the Powerpack uses a high-capacity internal battery to silently supply several outlets up to 600 Watts of AC power. It can also be used to jump-start your vehicle should your gear drain the battery.

Play a Strong Defense: A vehicle security system keeps your vehicle and its contents safe. Since the "security" systems that come from the factory on most cars are little more than a keyless entry feature, a professionally installed security system is a must. Aftermarket security can help to keep all those tailgating electronics (and even your gas-powered ride-on cooler) safe and secure while you're inside enjoying the event. Look for a system that includes door sensors, glass breakage sensors, motion and proximity sensors, ignition kill and remote paging that will call you if the alarm is activated. A professional installer can also customize the system for your specific vehicle, such as securing a covered pick-up truck bed, camper or tailgating trailer.

Let's get ready to rumble! Before your next tailgating event, make sure you have the essential electronics to keep your parking-lot party going before, during and after the big event. Visit your local automotive electronics retailer or use the installer locator on the main In-Vehicle Electronics page to find a retailer near you.