I don’t know about you, but I’m…shall we say…a bit of an aggressive driver. Sometimes. My last car was a Pontiac Grand Prix GT in “arrest me” red, which didn’t remotely help with my penchant for speed on the interstate. I’m sure you all have had one or two experiences with rude gestures or people yelling at you (or you doing the gesturing and yelling). We’ve all had our moments of indiscretion in our early years of driving, no?
Merconnet understands that sometimes, you just need to tell someone they’re an idiot and shouldn’t be allowed to share the road with highly skilled drivers such as yourself. Now, instead of flipping someone off or brake-checking them, you can use this handy wireless LED sign to communicate your reactions. What a novel idea!
The Merconnet Car Message Sign is a wireless gadget that attaches to your car’s rear window with a relatively strong suction cup. A wireless remote controller is used to display different predefined emoticons and messages on the sign.
What’s in the box
- LED car sign with attached suction cup
- Wireless remote control with removable suction cup
- A23 12V alkaline battery for remote
The sign requires four AA batteries, which are not included. The remote comes with an A23 battery preinstalled – this is kind of annoying, if you ask me, since this is a more specialized battery size and tends to cost more – a single Energizer-branded one on Amazon is nearly $4.
The sign itself is pretty large. Attached to it is a curved metal bracket with a permanently-attached suction cup that can slide up and down. The bracket is curved in order to allow the sign to easily hang from a sloped rear car window.
The remote has a removable metal bracket with an attached suction cup. This allows you to either mount the remote on your windshield or have it loose somewhere near you – in a cup holder, map pocket, etc. The remote has four buttons (for each of the sign’s displays) and a red LED that blinks when one of the buttons is pushed.
This particular emoticon sign has four different displays – a smile, a frown, a “neutral” expression, and a “thanks” message. Each display flashes between a couple different images.
The smile and frown are pretty easy to see:
The eyes blink three times before the sign shuts off. As you can see from the first picture (before my camera auto-adjusted the exposure and white balance), the LEDs are very bright – I was looking right at this thing at close proximity when I first turned it on, and it was pretty blinding. It’s definitely meant to be visible from a small distance – like the car behind you.
The “neutral” face is similar, although I’m not entirely sure how useful the expression is when trying to communicate with other drivers on the road. The fourth display is supposed to say “Thanks”, but is limited to three letters because of the size of the device. However, I would have expected it to say “THX” – instead, it says “THS”, which I think could be pretty unclear to people…that’s not a common abbreviation for “thanks” or “thank you”.
This gadget is pretty straightforward, and it works as expected. However, I was pretty disappointed to discover that the included A23 battery was drained very quickly. I received this toy from Julie and went to review it about six days later, and the battery was already completely dead. Fortunately, my wireless doorbell uses the same battery, or else I would have had to go buy a new one just to be able to take these pictures! That’s pretty bad battery life, especially considering the extra expense for the battery. I would have preferred to see the remote have a nonremovable Li-Ion battery with a USB cigarette (DC) charger.
The sign is pretty bulky, too – I’m not sure I’d want to leave it blocking part of my rear window, especially on my current car – it’s a 2005 Hyundai Tuscon, and the rear window is considerably smaller than my Grand Prix. I wouldn’t want to cut down on the visibility at all, for sure. Not only that, but I’m not certain that this kind of toy is very useful for someone like me. The majority of my driving is on interstates at high speeds – I don’t think people would stick around you long enough to see your sign-reaction, unless you were in a traffic jam. I could see how it might be cool to use for city driving, but even then the bright sign might confuse some drivers.
All in all, it’s an interesting concept, but at $39.99, I’m not sure it’s something I’d ever consider actually buying, even as a joke gift.