By the NewRVer.com staff

High-tech has hit the road. Today’s recreation vehicles (RVs) – loaded with innovative features and cool gadgets – are attracting new generations of buyers.

Traditional amenities (fully equipped kitchens and baths, central heat/air conditioning, and queen-sized beds) are now commingled with new high-tech entertainment and communications systems, making RV travel more comfortable and convenient than ever. Consumers agree, propelling RV sales among families who desire the freedom, control and flexibility associated with RV travel in today’s modern high-tech world.

“RV manufacturers are making significant technological advances-with more to come,” confirms David J. Humphreys, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Today’s RVs are already loaded with state-of-the-art amenities and comforts designed to further enhance RV travel for families. These high-tech homes on wheels are turning road trip vacations into unforgettable experiences for adults and children alike.”

The most popular electronic gadgets found on RVs are flat-screen TVs, satellite dishes, video game systems, cellular phones, laptops and PCs, and surround-sound CD and DVD players with individual headphones, according to RVIA surveys. Other high-tech options include automatic leveling systems and closed-circuit rear-view cameras for backing up. RVs also come equipped with power window curtains/shades; touch-screens to control the RV’s environment; seats with built-in heat and massage; built-in recharging stations for two-way radios; automatic ice makers; freezers that fit in the RV’s “basement;” docking stations for portable coolers; and fold-out exterior barbecue grills.

Among other popular high-tech features in today’s RVs, according to product designers:

“Moving walls” called slideouts automatically expand the RV’s interior space for added comfort once it reaches its destination. With the touch of a button, slideouts expand the living, dining, sleeping or kitchen areas as much as three-and-a-half feet each for almost twice the floor space. Their popularity is evident; most newly manufactured fifth-wheel travel trailers (86 percent) and type A motorhomes (92 percent) contain slideouts, according to RVIA statistics.

New space-saving trash compactors, and downsized dishwashers that slide in like drawers and economically clean kitchen utensils with minimal visibility, noise and water use.

Dual-purpose appliances like combination washer-dryers and TV-VCRs, and combination microwave-convection ovens that eliminate the need for conventional ovens.

Small direct broadcast satellite antennas have replaced the mammoth dishes of yesteryear. Some models work while on the road, so RV passengers won’t miss the big game while making time.

Electronic mapping, or Global Positioning Systems (GPS), help RVers chart their course and identify their location instantly.

The Internet is another boon for RVers, who can access online maps, travel information, and weather reports while on the road. Internet access also enables RVers to stay connected via e-mail with family, friends and business associates. Today’s RVs come equipped with Web TV, and some RV bedrooms convert into mobile offices complete with computer and Internet jacks. In fact, nearly 16 percent of owners now access the Net from their RVs, and 17 percent travel with computers on board, according to RVIA.

In addition, the nation’s campgrounds increasingly offer telephone connections as part of their RV hook-up service, while some are introducing wireless modems or kiosks with high-speed Internet access. For Internet access while on the road or from campgrounds without these connections, some RVers rely on cellular communications systems. Satellite telephone systems are available for RVers outside areas covered by cellular service.

On America’s roads today are 7.2 million RVs, which include motorhomes, travel trailers, folding camping trailers and truck campers.

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