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Hands-on: Audi MMI Plus Adds 3G Support to Your Ride

It's easy to be swept away by the elegant design and smooth handling of the Audi A7. However Audi is hardly a slouch on the tech front. We went hands-on with the Audi MMI Plus system, a solid mix of safety, information and entertainment in a simple user interface. We were immediately taken with the bright 8-inch display that rose gracefully from the dashboard as soon as the ignition was switched on. 

One of MMI's key features is Audi Connect, which delivers information quickly and unobtrusively thanks to its 3G network. Provided by a T-Mobile SIM card specially made for Audi, vehicles can support up to 8 devices including laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  Audi provides unlimited data for a $25-$30 monthly fee. However, Audi owners can count on getting the first six months of 3G service for free. From there, users can sign up for a two-year plan or go for a month-to-month option. Keep reading for more details and an image gallery.

In addition to the SIM card slot, there are two SDcard slots where drivers can upload up to 40GB of music if regular radio or satellite isn't enough. There's also a DVD player, to entertain any occupants in the backseat. Lifting the handrest revealed an iPad/iPod adapter for even more entertainment.

Using Google Earth we zoomed into locations or busy intersections to within 50 yards, further than any system on the market. From there, we used the voice-recognition software to search for nearby hotels. We were able to narrow the search by certain parameters including kid-friendly, pet-friendly, and price. A large knob on the command center offered fast, seamless navigation.

Another cool feature was the touchpad located in the command console next to the command knob. Depending on the console, the touchpad's function shifted from activating pre-sets to a data entry system with handwriting recognization technology. Despite our relatively sloppy penmanship, the system was able to read our entry and give a verbal confirmation for each letter, ensuring that we wouldn't have to take our eyes from the road.