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REVIEW: HTC Car StereoClip (Aux) Bluetooth Dongle
Posted by Arne Hess - on Saturday, 29.09.12 - 17:25:15 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 32433x
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Announced earlier this year, the HTC Car StereoClip (Aux) is finally available in many countries. The Car StereoClip (Aux) allows to wirelessly stream music from an HTC phone (as well as other Android, Windows Phone and iOS phone manufacturers are supported) through the car stereo speakers. The setup is pretty straight forward by just plugging the adaptor into a 3.5 mm auxiliary port and connecting the smartphone after via Bluetooth to the dongle. That said, the Car StereoClip (Aux) supports Bluetooth 2.1+EDR as well as the required A2DP Bluetooth protocol for streaming stereo audio from supported smartphones to the dongle. Furthermore, if connected with an HTC device with Beats Audio support, it features CSR aptX codex and automatically turns on the device's Beats enhancements which makes a real difference.

The Car StereoClip (Aux) measure only 60.6 x 20 x 9.4 mm and should therefore find its space in most cars. On the first sight it looks like a USB memory stick but if the protection cap is removed, it unveils a 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, instead of the expected USB jack, which plugs into the car stereo connector.

On the backside is a button located which is used to pair the Bluetooth module of the clip with a supported smartphone. This is a straight forward one click pairing process without any hassle or passwords.

On the bottom, the Car StereoClip (Aux) features a micro USB port as well as dual-color LED which shows the status of the clip. The micro USB port is used to either charge the clip, which comes - interesting enough - with a battery. According to HTC, the  clip can playback up to 5 hours of music, with a single charge. Alternatively the clip can be operated on a cigarette lighter.

Quite intelligent is the way HTC One smartphones (tested with a HTC One XL and HTC One S) are handling the Bluetooth connection because they are able to hold the A2DP stereo streaming connection to the dongle in parallel to the hands-free connection to the car hands-free equipment.

This is quite important since it means regular audio files a played through the car's HiFi system while it allows to receive and make calls through the hands-free set.

If music is played through a dongle and a call comes in, the One pauses the playback and switches the call to the hands-free set. Same if a call is initiated from either the One itself or through the Bluetooth hands-free kit.

Final Conclusion

Sure, most modern cars have countless options to playback music. My Audi A5 for instance has two SD slots, both good for 32 GB memory cards, a 10 GB HDD and a CD/DVD drive so basically I don't have to playback any music from my phone since 74 GB plus a DVD should be good enough for the longest ride (not for forget that the car has also an FM radio). However, there are two good reasons two play music from a smartphone nowadays. First of all, with streaming services like Spotify, Rdio or others (you name it), users aren't owning music anymore which they can burn to a CD/DVD or put it on a SD card or HDD. But music is nowadays streamed to smartphones or can only stored on phones with a subscription. Another good reason is to stream podcasts either live or which were previously downloaded to the smartphone. Furthermore, with services like TuneIn you can listen to radio stations from all around the world and can stream them now to your car HiFi as well.

And while many cars have Bluetooth hands-free systems today, most of these kits aren't supporting A2DP stereo playback at all. Alternatively, if you are using a rental car, chances are good that you might find an AUX-in port but not a Bluetooth A2DP compatible system.

I for myself have given up with cables in my car; except for charging my smartphones. However, on short drives I even don't take the device out of my pocket since it automatically connects with my Bluetooth hands-free set. And I don't want to have another cable hanging around which I have to use to connect my phone to my HiFi system. That's where Bluetooth is perfectly kicking-in and where HTC's Car StereoClip (Aux) becomes handy since the phone is connecting to the dongle the same way it connects to the hands-free system. From here it's two clicks on my entertainment system to switch to the external audio source and play any Spotify/Rdio/TuneIn/Google Music track straight from my phone. And since the Car StereoClip is also powered by its own embedded battery, I can even use it the same convenient way on any rental car with an aux-in port.

The HTC Car StereoClip (Aux), which is according to HTC compatible with a wide range of existing Android, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone smartphones, is now available from several HTC accessory shops and costs around 49 Euro. It's definitely an recommended enhancement for music lovers and users whose cars don't come with an A2DP compatible Bluetooth system.

Cheers ~ Arne

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