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Consumer Reports reviews Bluetooth kits for older vehicles

April 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Most cars now come with Bluetooth technology built in so you can talk on the phone hands-free. Although 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 reviewed four inexpensive ones.

To see how they work, Consumer Reports checked out some Bluetooth kits for older cars that cost $60 or less. There were some pluses and minuses.

The GoGroove FlexSmart X2 was 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 like the Belkin CarAudio Connect AUX sounded really good because they plug directly in. Plus you can talk or play music from your phone through the car's speakers.

"That one won't work unless you have an auxiliary jack," said Consumer Reports Associate Editor Jim Travers. "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 without 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.

So if you have to talk on the phone while driving, a Bluetooth kit is a smart move.

"Studies have proven that as long as it's just a hands-free device, you're a lot safer behind the wheel," said Travers.

When shopping for a Bluetooth device, make sure the Bluetooth kit is compatible with your phone as well as your vehicle. For instance, the Belkin kit Consumer Reports looked at requires an auxiliary jack, and not all cars have one.

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