I’ve been after a product that does this for some time. Imagine the scenario – in my car I have an auxiliary connector for the in-built stereo. To play music and podcasts from my phone I have to run an audio cable between the two.
What this product will do is plug into the auxiliary socket and receive audio from my phone via Bluetooth. Brilliant. And, of course, you can use it anywhere else that has an audio socket for receiving sound.
Matt black and the size of a standard USB memory stick, the HTC CAR A100 looks rather unassuming. A hole in the cap allows you to connect this to a strap or key ring – thankfully the cap is held on securely. Pull the cap off and you have a standard sizes male audio connector. However, there is no where to store the cap so this may be easily lost.
On one side is a small, square button – this is for powering the unit on and off and pairing it with Bluetooth devices. On the rear is a micro USB socket (for charging) and a status light.
Pairing with a Bluetooth device (in this case my phone) is incredibly easy by simply holding down the side button for a few seconds. Once paired it all works great – I’ve only had one very minor drop-out over a number of hours of use. Of course, again, we are limited by Bluetooth so re-connection is not always easy – switching on the Bluetooth on my phone after the A100 will result in an immediate connection. However, wander away from the A100 and return back to it and I’ll struggle to get the two to connect again – switching Bluetooth off and on with my phone usually resolves it. And, as I say, I suspect this more a problem with Bluetooth than the HTC device.
Sound quality is what you’d expect with Bluetooth – okay. Voice is better than music, which sounds lacking. If you’re transmitting device supports apt-X then this will help, as the A100 is compatible with this improved audio system.
Charging the device doesn’t take too long and battery life is given as “up to 5 hours” with 120 hours of standby. It’s supposed to power down when not in use but I couldn’t get it to do this. Sadly any kind of automatic switch on doesn’t exist either (for example, switching on the device when power is supplied – this would be particularly useful in a car, but would need to be switchable) so it’s a case of manually turning it on each time it’s required.
Packaging wise, it comes in a plastic container within a cardboard box. Both are over-sized for what they need to be. Other than the Bluetooth transmitter you only get a small paper manual and USB cable so the size of the box is certainly too much.
And whilst on the subject of the environmental credentials of the product, it’s a shame that the rechargeable battery is sealed. Although battery life is quoted at up to 5 hours there is no further information on what will determine this. Does the way it’s used determine the battery length? If so, how? Or is it referring to the fact that over-time the battery will last for less time? More instructions on getting best use out of battery life wouldn’t go amiss in products – particularly when they contain non-replaceable batteries.
The HTC CAR A100 can be bought from the new Phones4U website.
That power saving feature
After leaving the A100 on in my car accidentally, returning to it 8 hours later and finding it still going, I can confirm that it does indeed have a power save feature. However, the LED on top continues to blink making it look as if it’s still fully active. I’m guessing all the feature does is switch off the Bluetooth. None-the-less, it works.
The noted downsides are few – certainly the sound quality can’t be held against it as this is a limitation of Bluetooth. It looks and works great and is certainly a good, wireless way to get audio from a Bluetooth device to another which lacks it. Only the high price marks it down.
Disclosure of gift - I received this product at a discounted price in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.