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Consumer Reports: Latest in Bluetooth Car Kits

By Consumer Reports
|  Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013  |  Updated 2:30 PM CDT
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Bluetooth kits let you talk hands-free while driving, a safer option. Consumer Reports checked out a few to see how easy they are to install, or not, and whether the voice quality is any good.

Deanna Dewberry, Consumer Reports

Bluetooth kits let you talk hands-free while driving, a safer option. Consumer Reports checked out a few to see how easy they are to install, or not, and whether the voice quality is any good.

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Most cars now come with Bluetooth technology built in so that you can talk hands-free. Though talking while driving is not ideal, sometimes it can’t be avoided. Now there are lots of Bluetooth devices made for older cars. Consumer Reports just checked out four inexpensive ones that cost $60 or less. There were some pluses and minuses.

The GoGroove FlexSmart X2 proved easy to install because it’s wireless. But the audio quality wasn’t great. There was a lot of background noise.

On the other hand, kits such as the Belkin CarAudio Connect sounded really good because they plug directly in. A plus: You can talk or play music from your phone through the car’s speakers. But that one won’t work unless you have an auxiliary jack. It does have very good audio quality, but you’re also, of course, going to have a bunch of wires in the car, and you do need to semi-permanently mount it.

The easiest to install are self-contained devices that clip on the visor and have no wires. You could hear calls clearly with two—the Jabra Journey and Motorola Roadster 2. And you can play music through your car’s audio system with the Motorola kit.

When shopping for a Bluetooth car kit, you want to check that it’s compatible with your phone as well as your vehicle. For instance, with the Belkin Kit Consumer Reports looked at, your car has to have an auxiliary jack. Not all do. And it pays to shop around because prices vary widely.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

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