In recent years we have been lucky enough to benefit from some amazing developments in the world of technology, not least in the way we communicate with each other. There is no doubt that most people will now carry a smartphone as a matter of course, and these are the mainstay of not only keeping in touch with each other, but also in accessing the internet and the information that is available there. With so many different systems in use it can be difficult to know which to pay attention to, yet there is no doubt whatsoever that Bluetooth has been one of the most important of all.
Bluetooth has many potential uses, yet we reckon you have barely touched the surface of what it is capable of doing. For example: in your car, you want to remain in touch – or perhaps play music via MP3 or one of the many other methods available – but we all know that using a hand-held set is dangerous, let alone illegal! Bluetooth allows you to keep up to speed with things without the need to touch your handset, and that’s why we are interested in talking to you about Bluetooth car kits, which are rapidly becoming a must-have accessory.
Of course, if you are lucky enough to own a new car, you probably have a Bluetooth system in place, as well as a neat and usable communications and navigation centre. What a Bluetooth kit will allow you to do is replicate this in your not so new car, and with excellent results. So, what can a Bluetooth car kit help you with, and why do we think you need one? It’s all about being in touch and able to use your systems properly, so before we go on to review 10 of the best on the market, let’s have a look at what they can do, and how you might benefit from one.
How It Works
First, a Bluetooth car kit is not just about Bluetooth; it can also be about using a variety of cards and storage devices to play music or other content. Those we have selected here range from the very simple to the more complex models on the market, and some you will find are very capable and versatile indeed, with the ability to help you with a wide variety of functions.
They are also small and compact – and as you will also see, not necessarily expensive – and some of the best models are remarkably simple to use, to the extent you may wonder how you managed without one. Bluetooth is usually associated with mobile phones, but can also be used in conjunction with tablets, laptops and any other devices that are enabled, and while it was devised as a file and content sharing mode, it has become much more usable than that in recent years.
One area where Bluetooth car kits make sense is that they allow you to answer calls on your mobile without having to touch the handset or the kit; they do this very neatly and simply, so if you are on the move and need to keep in touch with work or family, then one of these cheap and easy to install and use devices can be of major benefit.
So, you now know you need one: which one makes the most sense for you? We took a look at ten very usable and affordable Bluetooth car kits so we can hopefully point you in the right direction: let’s have a look at them now, and then give you an idea of which we reckon is best for you.
The Top 10
In reviewing the top 10 Bluetooth car kits, we have assumed you understand the commonly used terminology in these systems, so let’s get started.
1: VicTsing FM Transmitter
First on our list is this model from VicTsing, who offer a wide range of in-car entertainment and other communications gadgets and devices. This one is a Bluetooth kit with an FM transmitter, and serves a variety of purposes as such. First, it is compact and simple – most of these plug into your car’s onboard 12v supply – and is very quick to set up. However, it is the variety of interesting and useful functions that this one offers that makes it of interest, especially when used with your smartphone.
You can take calls by Bluetooth, automatically and safely; you can stream music from your phone or compatible MP3 (or one of many other formats) player; you can send music using a TF storage device or a direct cable; and your transmitter will automatically pair with enabled and permitted Bluetooth devices, and switch off when you power down. It also displays battery power, and can be used via one of two USB ports for charging a phone or other device. We reckon that all of this for not much more than £15 is pretty good value.
Pros: neat design, many features, automatic call handling, price
Cons: we can’t see any – it’s pretty good
2: Aigital Bluetooth Speakerphone
The advantage of being able to answer your calls when on the move in the car is not one to be taken lightly. We are all sensible enough to know that using a phone while driving can be dangerous, and that’s why we should welcome little devices such as this one, which is essentially an add-on speakerphone for your mobile. It’s neat, tidy and clever, and is compact enough that it can even clip to your sun visor so will remain out of the way.
It offers a noise reduction facility for clear sound, is entirely automatic and will pair when you switch on, and comes with all the cables and charging kit you need to get going. It can even be used with two phones at once, and is compatible with iPhone and Android devices. Fully charged, it can handle up to 20 hours of talk time, which is also pretty impressive from something so compact and affordable – you can buy one for less than £20.
Pros: great speaker, pairs automatically, long use time, very compact, cheap
Cons: no digital display, limited compared to some of these
3: Anker SoundSync Drive
This clever take on the theme is a very neat little device, but make sure you know if your car has a 3.5mm jack plug, as it will only work with one of those. However, what it does do is pretty clever: first, it is compatible with just about every operating system so whether you have an iPhone or Android you will be OK. Then, like many of these, it cleverly uses the car’s stereo speaker system to transfer the sound, with its own microphone for replying.
It has a single button control that accesses just about every function on your phone – including, interestingly, Siri and many other such features – and is compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 devices. It has automatic on and off functions, pairs automatically, works with just about every device, and is very compact so will not take up much space. At not much more than a tenner it’s good value, and a great little design.
Pros: all the features, automatic, good sound, fully compatible
Cons: limited connectivity
4: Tecevo Bluetooth 4.0
As we go through this review you will find that there are many similarities between the different models, so much so that you might find you read the same thing again and again! For example, this one is a Bluetooth 4.0 device, it is a very neat and compact design, works from a 3.5mm aux plug, and offers full connectivity with all operating systems. It’s great for making and taking calls without touching your phone, and will sit neatly out of the way so you won’t notice it.
It has a magnetic base unit so you can mount it without damage to your vehicle anywhere there is a suitable metal surface, and you will find it pairs every time with the accepted devices. This one has two USB ports, and you get an adapter for your on-board 12-volt supply or cigarette lighter. There’s not much more to add as you know the score by now, but suffice to say it does what you want it to, and at a no-frills price of around £13 you cannot complain.
Pros: simple design, easy to use, magnetic mounting, fully compatible
Cons: there are others with more features, but not at this price
5: Avantree Bluetooth Kit
So far, we have reviewed devices that, all in all, look very much the same; each has been very compact and designed to tuck out of the way, but this model is something a little different. It looks more like a small, conventional radio and is very neat, and it offers some interesting features. While you get all the usual connectivity, what we do like about this one is that it has a motion sensor. This means it will automatically pair with your phone – in a matter of a few seconds – when you open the door, so you are ready to go.
It has impressive sound quality as it features a noise-reduction system, and is designed to fit to the sun visor for easy use, plus you get more than 20 hours of talk time from a full charge, and it comes with all the bits and pieces you need to charge it and to keep it charged when necessary, so is great for those long journeys. The down side? Compared to those we have reviewed so far it is pricy at around £25, but that’s still not a lot of money for such a useful piece of kit.
Pros: neat design, auto features, mobility sensor, long battery life
Cons: none, unless the price puts you off
6: Craicr Bluetooth FM Transmitter
This Bluetooth kit from Criacr comes with an FM transmitter, and serves a variety of purposes as such. First, it is compact and simple – most of these plug into your car’s onboard 12v supply – and is very quick to set up. However, it is the variety of interesting and useful functions that this one offers that makes it of interest, especially when used with your smartphone.
You can take calls by Bluetooth, automatically and safely; you can stream music from your phone or compatible MP3 (or one of many other formats) player; you can send music using a TF storage device or a direct cable; and your transmitter will automatically pair with enabled and permitted Bluetooth devices, and switch off when you power down. It also displays battery power, and can be used via one of two USB ports for charging a phone or other device. We reckon that all of this for not much more than £10 is very good value.
Pros: neat design, many features, automatic call handling, price
Cons: None at the price!
7: ToHayie Bluetooth Car Kit
If you like your gadgets to look the part, this model may be of great interest to you. It features a very neat 1.4in LED screen that can display the numbers and names of incoming calls – or the titles of artists and tracks that you are playing – so is a cut above some of the others when it comes to being an attractive and practical design. Yet, it is still small enough to clip on your visor, so is the perfect choice for when you need to keep an eye on who is calling and when.
It is compatible with just about every operating system, supports TF card storage, and has a clever noise-reduction system that sends excellent sound every time to your car speakers. We do like the fact it also has a fully functioning remote control, so anyone in the car can select the music or channel they want, and is also a full-function FM receiver. At a shade less than £16 we really think this one is well worth a look.
Pros: neat screen, all the functions, FM receiver, noise reduction, fully compatible
Cons: none, it’s great!
8: iiTrust Car Kit Adapter
As you would expect, this one does pretty much everything the rest of these do – in fact, a little more as not all offer FM reception – and is similarly neat and tidy in design, as well as being clever and compatible with a variety of operating systems and devices. The FM coverage is comprehensive and the sound quality good – it uses your cars speakers as is the norm – and it is a neat little device that looks good and takes up very little in the way of space.
It remembers your preferences, logs in quickly and automatically, offers fully hands-free calling and is magnetic, plus it has echo-cancellation, and the sound quality is pretty good all-round. It comes with USB ports for charging a variety of other devices, and is easy to use with simple functions. All in all, this is a very nice little Bluetooth kit that will suit anyone looking for connectivity or, at a price of around £12, would make an excellent gift.
Pros: compact, fully functioning, FM, great sound, price
Cons: No LCD screen, but neither have many of the others
9: Supertooth Bluetooth
This is a very nicely designed model that clips to your visor, and that offers all of the usual functions and features you want in one of these. While you get all the usual connectivity, what we do like about this one is that it has a motion sensor. This means it will automatically pair with your phone – in a matter of a few seconds – when you open the door, so you are ready to go. It also means that if your phone is nearby when at home, it may also connect and switch on, so you need to be careful.
It has impressive sound quality as it features a noise-reduction system, and is designed to fit to the sun visor for easy use, plus you get more than 20 hours of talk time from a full charge, and it comes with all the bits and pieces you need to charge it and to keep it charged when necessary, so is great for those long journeys. The only problem could be the price: at £28 it is more than twice that of some on this list.
Pros: neat design, auto features, mobility sensor, long battery life
Cons: Just the price
10: Parrot CK3100 Advanced
Our final choice is this one; it’s from Parrot, who offer a wide variety of in-car kits and audio devices, and it is clearly a very high-quality device. It has all the usual features, with a decent-sized LCD display that shows you everything that is going on at a given time, and it offers strong signal sensing and also great sound quality. It supports full voice dialling, is easy to use and has simple controls, and can be used with the car’s speakers to make calls and such without using the handset.
There is, however, a problem. While we acknowledge that this is a quality item, it is by no means a budget device. Parrot is a great brand, and has a strong reputation, and there are design elements of this one that make it sturdier and clearly durable than others, but we are amazed that it comes at almost £100. That is considerably more than even the most expensive of the rest on this list, and we are finding it hard to see the advantage.
Pros: quality, neat design, very capable
Cons: it’s very expensive
So, that’s our ten best Bluetooth car kits for you. Now, before we go on to give you our verdict, let’s consider a few of the features you need to look for.
Here we go!
Hands-free – the purpose of one of these is, primarily, to be able to make and take hands-free calls. Each of our featured models has that function, so you’re on safe ground.
Compatibility – check that the model you buy is not only compatible with the handset you use, but also with any other features you might want to utilise, and that it is an up to date Bluetooth version.
FM – do you want radio reception? If so, you need one with an FM receiver, so check the specifications in advance.
Sound – making and taking calls on the move is clearly important to you, so you need a level of sound quality that is acceptable. Check for noise and echo-reduction, as this also applies to music.
Charging – you need one that charges quickly and easily when on the move and that, when charged, provides a sensible length of talk time. A few of these offer more than 20 hours, so if long journeys are your thing, they may be the ones for you.
That’s a few of the features you need to consider, so which is the one for you? Let’s have a look.
In all honesty, it’s difficult to recommend the final one on our list – the Parrot model – because it is several times more expensive than a number of models that do the same thing. For us, the stand-out device here is the ToHayie model, at number 7, as it does everything you need from a Bluetooth car kit, look great and offers excellent functions, and you get a few quid in change from £20.
There are others here, too, that fit the bill, and many at excellent prices, so have a read through and see what you think, and get yourself a device that will make your life easier when on the move.