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Belkin Bluetooth Car Kit

23 Jul

I was recently in a car accident. I wasn’t hurt – no one was – and it wasn’t my fault, but my car needed some major repairs after the incident. In fact, I was without my car for almost a month. This would have been a huge pain, except 1) I have car insurance, and since I wasn’t at fault my premiums weren’t at risk of going up, 2) said car insurance covered a rental car for the duration of my car’s stay at the body shop, and 3) the rental car I got was SO MUCH COOLER than my real car. For a little background, I tool around the city in a 2008 Scion xD. It’s perfect for me – no frills, good gas mileage, affordable to buy, run, and maintain. The car I rented was a 2013 Jetta Sportwagen in shiny candy apple red. I was – I AM – totally happy with my little Scion, but I was amazed at the difference five years and a higher price point can make.

My favorite part about the Jetta was the bluetooth connection. I could not only make phone calls through the car stereo, but play music from my iPhone via bluetooth and bump it through those so-much-nicer-than-mine speakers. My phone even showed up on the dashboard! I felt so cool. (And also lame, for being so impressed by something that comes standard on so many cars nowadays.)

Jetta Dash

Yes, my phone is named Dr. Alan Grant. And my iPod is Dr. Ian Malcolm. And my iPad is Dr. Ellie Sattler. I’m a pretty cool, grown-up person.

After 25 days, my car was fixed and it was time to say goodbye to my newly beloved Jetta. How could I possibly go back to my dinky old Scion after a month of luxury? Once I got in said Scion, however, I remembered everything I love about it, and why it’s the perfect car for me. I also realized that I missed being able to park in pretty much any parking space, no matter how small, and how much cheaper it was to keep my little Jelly Bean gassed up. (Oh, by the way, I refer to my car as the Jelly Bean.)

I realized that the one thing I really missed about the Jetta was the bluetooth stereo situation. I missed it so much that I decided I was going to investigate getting a new stereo system in my car. I was planning on buying a new stereo, paying someone to install it, the whole shebang. After about three seconds of searching Amazon, I realized that this is 20effing13 and all that effort was unnecessary. There are magic devices that you can use to connect your phone to your car stereo! All while only spending $50 or so, and installing it yourself in five minutes. I was thrilled. This was my royal baby.

I read a few reviews, and after checking my car’s specs I ordered the Belkin Bluetooth Car Kit. Thanks to Amazon Prime I only had to wait a few days, and once it arrived on my doorstep I had it installed in about five minutes. And I mean literally five minutes. It couldn’t have been more simple.

Setup

Basically, there are three components to this unit: The speaker, the power adapter, and the AUX jack. The power adapter is the part that goes in your cigarette lighter (kids today probably think of this as the iPhone charger plug or something, but I still think of it as a cigarette lighter, even though I haven’t seen someone use it as such in about 10 years), and therefore pretty standard and easy to find. The tricky part is the AUX jack. In Scions, at least in 2008 xD’s, this is incredibly easy to find. There’s a lineup on the bottom of the center console, with the ciggy lighter in the center, AUX jack on one side, and iPod jack on the other side. For some cars, however, the AUX jack is hidden away somewhere and you have to search around for it. Sucks for you – shoulda bought a Scion!

The speaker is perhaps even less complicated than the power adapter, because you just stick it wherever you want. I mean, it’s the part you’re going to talk into when you’re trying to make a phone call, so you don’t want to put it anywhere, but just choose a spot that you like that will also pick up your voice and you’re golden. For me, I found a circular spot right behind and above my keyhole that was apparently saved for one of my many upgrade I chose not to add to my car. It was perfect for this little speaker thingy! The speaker isn’t permanently attached – you stick on small disc that the speaker attaches to via a magnet. Just in case you’re afraid of getting robbed, or miss the days of having to pop of the front cover of your car stereo and locking it in your glove compartment.

You can see the Jetta (RIP) and now my Belkin (AKA "Car Audio"). And don't worry, it only says "not connected" because I took this screenshot in a coffee shop, not my car

You can see the Jetta (RIP) and now my Belkin (AKA “Car Audio”). And don’t worry, it only says “not connected” because I took this screenshot in a coffee shop, not my car

That entire process – the plugging in and attaching things – took about 90 seconds. Super easy. Next I needed to link my phone to the bluetooth.I had just done this for the first time with the Jetta, so it was fresh in my mind. Also, it’s completely simple and intuitive (although I did Google it the first time, since I had absolutely zero bluetooth experience). All bluetooth devices are different in the way they connect on their end, but on the iPhone end it’s all the same. Go into settings, then bluetooth. Make sure bluetooth is on, then wait for your device to show up. Approve the connection and you’re set! I have no idea if this is such an easy process with non iDevices, but I’d guess it must be. This is 20effing13 after all.

Scions come with an iPod jack, which I thought was really cool when I first bought the car. This was actually one of the things that drew me to the Scion in the first place. But, at least with 2008 models, the jack only works with iPods, not iPhones, so I had to carry around an iPod, even though I use my iPhone for everything and find a separate iPod completely unnecessary. I would literally keep buying people’s old video iPods on eBay just so I could play music in my car. AND the sound quality wasn’t even that great. Unless my music was turned up really loudly and I was driving on the freeway, I’d always hear a little buzzing sound through my speakers. With my Belkin Bluetooth, the sound quality is PERFECT, and I can play music and podcasts from my phone without attaching any extra cables. And if I need to charge my phone there is a USB port right in the front of the power adapter. All this, and I installed it myself in five minutes for $50? What more could you ask for?!

Belkin Bluetooth Car Kit: $50

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