Plug-and-drive Bluetooth

Kinivo BTC455 Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit
Kinivo BTC455 Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit

Many new cars come with built-in Bluetooth hands-free phone support. If yours doesn’t, Kinivo offers a simple plug-in upgrade that lets you stream music, listen to navigational directions, receive phone calls and use voice commands transmitted over the cars stereo’s speakers. Your car must have an AUX input audio jack (common as of 2006), and your mobile device must be Bluetooth enabled.

The Kinivo “command center” is a little 1.5-inch-diameter disk-shaped push-button device, which contains Bluetooth electronics and a microphone, and attaches to the car’s dashboard via an included adhesive mounting pad. A 36-inch-long cable extending from the disk splits into two 13-inch-long cables — one terminating in a 3.5 mm audio plug, the other in a power adaptor (this one with a bonus built-in USB port) for the car’s 12-volt (cigarette lighter) port.

With the wires plugged into their ports and the car stereo set to AUX, the Kinivo disk will automatically go into blue-and-red LED flashing pairing mode when your car starts up. Pair your phone and you’re good to go, once you have familiarized yourself with the disk’s multiple push-button functions. These include answering and ending phone calls, activating voice commands (if available on the phone), playing and pausing music (either stored on the phone or from an online service, such as Pandora), and, if desired, pairing one additional electronic device.

Two small buttons on the side of the control disk let you skip forward or back between song tracks. Volume is adjusted using the car stereo and/or phone controls. The sound quality, as with all such devices, will depend on your speakers, your phone, and the quirks of reception and transmission. But at only about $50, the Kinivo may be a welcome alternative to headphones or other hands-free car communication options.

Kinivo BTC455 Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit is $49.99 at