Hands-free laws. They’re becoming increasingly popular. I live on the east coast and although my state currently does not require you to use a hands-free device, the bordering states do require hands-free devices and they aggressively enforce their hands-free laws. I just checked online and currently 14 states (plus Washington, DC) require hands-free devices. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before more states enact such laws.
I have been using a Bluetooth speakerphone for over a year. It makes it very convenient to make calls while driving the roads of Northern Virginia, especially when stuck in our infamous traffic. Since I have a Moto X, it also makes it easier to give commands to the phone and to hear the responses. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, is that the speaker is soft and difficult to hear.
Well, our friends at Kinivo came to the rescue and sent me their BTC455 Bluetooth hands-free car kit. I’ve been testing the BTC455 for a few weeks. I wanted to wait until I went on a few road trips to really give it a workout.
The BTC455 has a main unit that controls all functions. There’s a multifunction button on the face of the unit and a rocker on the top. The rocker is used for going back to a previous song or advancing to the next song when listening to music. The multifunction button does several things, depending on what your phone is doing. The multifunction button can put the BTC455 in pairing mode, or start/pause music. It can also reject an incoming call or answer an incoming call. It can redial the last number dialed and also hang up at the end of your conversation.
The BTC455 has an adhesive disc for mounting. My advice would be to select your mounting spot carefully. Once you mount it, it isn’t going anywhere. I haven’t had the desire to try to remove it.
The BTC455 does have to get power from somewhere, so unfortunately, it isn’t completely wireless. There is a cord to plug into your accessory port (us old-timers call that the cigarette lighter). There is a USB pass-through to allow you to plug in a USB charging cable for charging your phone. The cable then splits off and there’s a 3.5” audio adapter that you plug into your car’s auxiliary input. Luckily my car has one. Not all cars do. If your car does not have an AUX IN for the stereo, you will need to purchase a speaker for the BTC455 to plug into. I had to tape all the wires up under the dashboard so that they would stay out of my way. The microphone for the BTC455 is located on the main device.
Setting up the BTC455 and pairing was very simple. Once I was paired, I was ready to go. I should also point out that this device has Multipoint (can pair with more than one device), but I don’t have a second Bluetooth device to test out this feature.
I went for a long drive and made some phone calls. The person I was speaking to didn’t even know I was speaking to him on a Bluetooth device until I told him. I really enjoyed listening to the call in full-stereo as opposed to the single speaker of my other BT system. I also listened to some music stored on my phone, which also sounded much better on the car’s stereo system versus the other BT system. Since the output is through the stereo, I can easily turn up the stereo instead of trying to adjust the phone’s volume at 60 MPH.
As I mentioned above, I use a Moto X, so I can just talk to the phone and it responds to my commands. If you don’t have a Moto X, you can press and hold the Multifunction button for a few seconds (about five) and access Google Now. I haven’t tried this with an iOS device, but I guess you would be able to access Siri too.
There is one thing that bothers me, which isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but I just wanted to put this out there. I like to listen to the radio when I’m in the car. If I listen to the radio and not the music on the phone, I will have to turn the stereo away from AUX mode. So, if the stereo is not in AUX mode and something happens (phone rings, notifications, etc.), I’m not going to be able to do anything until I switch the stereo back to AUX mode.
As of this writing, the Kinivo BTC455 is $49.99 at Amazon. If your car does not have built-in Bluetooth, then the Kinivo BTC455 needs to be in your car!