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Friday, June 04, 2010

Onstar Vs. Sync

A friend of mine was looking for a luxury car, and was wondering about the differences between Onstar (Cadillac) and Sync (Lincoln).  

There is a major difference in how these two systems work.

Onstar is a concierge service--when you press the little blue button, you initiate a voice call to a data center where someone will offer to help you.  Likewise, when something goes wrong, they can call you and ask if you are OK.  Onstar has a subscription fee.

Sync is a speech recognition system.  You don't talk to a human, you talk to a Microsoft box which integrates some functions of the car with some functions of your cell phone.   Sync does not have a fee.

Onstar advantages: the phone is built into the car, so it is always on, you can talk to a real person, Onstar can do things like unlock your doors or stop your car remotely if it is stolen.  

Onstar disadvantages: it has a subscription fee.  

Sync advantages: it is free.  It has a nice interface for iPod control, will read text messages to you, get news and weather updates, etc.  Sync will have apps that users can download and run, and there will be more of them over time.  

Sync disadvantages: If you don't have your phone with you or your phone is damaged, Sync can't help you as much.  Sync can't do things like immobilize your car or unlock your doors.  Some phones or devices aren't fully supported, depending on how they implement bluetooth and other details.

Both systems offer 911 functionality, Onstar through a concierge and Sync through an automated dial-out using your phone.


Aleina said...

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simmonmt said...

Data center? Did you mean call center? Data centers are usually only inhabited by machines (and the handful of humans who care for them)

DSmith said...

One other big difference: OnStar is has both a better cellular antenna than your cellphone, and a much stronger transmitter than is permitted in handsets. In practical terms, OnStar will maintain communication in the boonies long after your handset has gone "No Service". If you end up needing emergency response, this could be a life-or-death difference. It all depends on how and where you drive.

Anonymous said...

If you have a Ford vehicle, you don't need remote unlocking as you can have a keypad right on your door to do that (and you don't need a subscription for IT either!)

jslightb said...

The previous comments are great - it's good to see a chat board with useful posts. I've looked at the differences between the 2 systems I it may come down to you driving preferences & location. OnStar is great if you perfer to talk, hands free, to get help or assistance. There's not much you need to do besides press a button and the attendant will try to help with your needs.

Sync is more manually-interactive. you speak your commands to the car's computer or press buttons on a menu display on the dash. The voice recognition done not always understand your commands so talking while eating (and driving) is tricky. However, there is a voice trainer you can use to teac the car to "know" your voice.

I prefer Sync. I like having buttons to push and I like the ability to upgrade the car's computer software to new versions (I'm a Techie). I never needed my car to be stopped by someone else. I also like the free part too.