HTC Bluetooth Car StereoClip.

I've always had a love-hate relationship with Bluetooth. I love the idea. Being able to easily and wirelessly connect our devices to other devices just makes sense. Wires and cables are decidedly unsightly and unsophisticated. But in actual use, well, that's where the hate comes in. Sometimes Bluetooth works great. Other times it's the devil, refusing to connect, or to hold or connection, or basically sounding crappy.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the HTC Bluetooth Car StereoClip. (Sprint currently is selling it under the "Bluetooth Music Adaptor" name.) Here it is, in a sentence: Pair it with your phone, plug it into a 3.5mm jack, and play audio to your heart's content. Done. It's that easy. (But that doesn't mean you shouldn't read on for our full review. Let's hit it!)

To answer everyone's first question: Yes, you can use a non-HTC phone with it. It's Bluetooth, after all. (It paired just fine with our Samsung Galaxy Nexus in addition to the HTC One X.) The only real requirement is that your device needs to have at least Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. And chances are your phone or tablet has that. A couple other protocols you'll see listed are A2DP (stereo Bluetooth) and the CSR aptX codec. Your device also likely has A2DP. That's old-school. CSR's aptX codec is for lossless compression. Like A2DP, it's "supported," but not required. 

Audio quality is the next question, of course. And it's excellent. To my abused metalhead ears, output quality is as good as if you were using an AUX cable. No static at all. (Remember that you lose HTC's Beats Audio enhancements when not using a connected output, though.) And that leads into Question 3.

HTC Bluetooth Car StereoClip.

If you're plugging this into your car's AUX port, why not just use an AUX cable that's cheaper and doesn't require charging? (Yes, you have to charge this thing via microUSB.) We can't really answer that one for you. Your workflow might be different than mine. But if I have the choice between Bluetooth that actually works and cables I have to reconnect every time I get in the car, I'm going with Bluetooth.

As for the dongle itself, it's about the same size as a typical flash drive. No, not one of those tiny flash drives. A normal flash drive. It's got a cap that protects the TRS connector when not in use. (You're on your own to not lose that cap -- there's no lanyard or anything.) The cap has a hole in it, so you can keep the whole kit and kaboodle on a keychain if you wish, or on a necklace, if that's how you roll. 

On the opposite end of the dongle is the microUSB port for charging and a red/green LED indicator light. It gives a triple-green flash every few seconds when connected, lights up red when charging and turns green when topped off. (See the manual for all the lighting patterns, but those are the important ones.) There's a single button one the bottom for turning the adaptor of and on. Speaking of the battery, it's rated at 5 hours' playback time and 120 hours' standby time. You can charge while listening, but it looks pretty funny.

One advantage you get in using the adaptor with newer HTC phones (with Sense 4) is the ability to automatically connect and output in the excellent HTC car app. Your newer HTC phone should be set up to do this automatically.

Downsides? Aside from the current $60 price tag (at least that's what we paid), you don't get much range with this thing. That's not necessarily a strike against it though, as it's mean to be used in the car. So your phone likely is within a couple feet of the adaptor. But get more than 6 feet away, and you start losing the signal.

And that's the HTC Bluetooth Car StereoClip. Simple, to the point, works well and sounds great. Is it worth the price and worth unplugging your cheap and even easier-to-use AUX cable? That one's up to you.

Update (6/5): By the way, I've been using this to connect my MacBook Air to the stereo for a while now, and it works just fine, as you'd expect. Huzzah!

 
There are 61 comments

Shadowlore says:

Hey Phil, Does this one allow you to charge at the same time while connected via BT and the minidin? That's been my biggest gripe of most of these little BT adapters. If I can plug it into the Accessory adapter in the car, while using it... that makes it a 'hardwire' option for me...

Unfortunately, most BT Adapters don't allow for this. Hopefully HTC addressed it.

DavidF78 says:

"You can charge while listening, but it looks pretty funny."

I'll probably get this if I can ever get an EVO4gLTE.

Speaking of the EVO4gLTE Phil, whats the ETA on the comprehensive review?

capt4chris says:

Yeah, I kinda thought the review would be done by now.

tsatrom says:

I just hope it's soon. I don't want to hold off getting this phone until the review is out... but I will.

jdm4u says:

The review probably got held up by customs too lol.

WesR6 says:

"Speaking of the battery, it's rated at 5 hours' playback time and 120 hours' standby time. You can charge while listening, but it looks pretty funny."

Looks good and looks like it will charge while in use.

Shadowlore says:

Damn.. I'm blind XD

Davest says:

Ok...they rate it for five hours, which probably means more like three or four. So, if I want to use it for more than that, I'll have to plug a cable into it to charge it.

Thanks, but I'll just stick with the cable I already have that runs from the phone to the aux input on my stereo.

jem286 says:

i got mine yesterday and used it all day for about 4+ hours and it is still going strong sounds good even with my og evo

cant not wait till i get my evo4glte

graymulligan says:

If you're looking to hardwire something, go this route:
http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Bluetooth-Hands-Free-BlackBerry-Smartphones...

I've used it for a year or so, and really, really like it. Hit the button and it automatically syncs with your phone (and launches car mode if you set it up that way) Plus, it looks very stealthy if you take a little time with the installation and hide the cables.

IceDree says:

Thanks Phil !!!

I've a one question though Phil, If your car have a Multi-Functional steering wheel, Can you Play\Pause\Skip\Rewind from the buttons or you gonna have to use the phone?

I didn't know it have to be charged, I was under the impression that it sucks power from the car it self

I've a Sony Ericsson Bluetooth thingy (DS-220) that do the same, plus it have a Microphone on it & Pause\Play button !

Again thanks Phil

rayram23 says:

you would have to use the phone... those controls go directly to your cars stereo head unit...

IceDree says:

Yea I thought so too, but I'd High hopes , that it might be like BMWs , where you can control the phone from the steering whee (I think that feature is built into iDrive)

Thanks

icebike says:

I suspect late model Fords allow this if you pair directly to the car bluetooth (as opposed to one of these devices). I know that Dodge/Chrysler sound systems allow full music control as well when you pair directly to car bluetooth.

Impulses says:

Most newer cars allow that, the ones that only support BT for calls are becoming the minority... At least amongst the Acuras and Nissan in my household.

icebike says:

I can't see how you expect Phil to answer your first question, there are a zillion cars out there. Chances are anyone with a multi-function steering wheel has bluetooth in the car anyway.

IceDree says:

Multi-Functional steering wheel ≠ BlueTooth .

- My Kia Forte have Multi-Functional steering wheel but no BT

- My Father's Ford Explorer have Multi-Functional steering wheel but NO BT

- My Father's Old BMW 7-Series had Multi-Functional steering wheel but no BT

- My Uncle's Audi Q5 have Multi-Functional steering wheel But No BT

crxssi says:

And my Infiniti G37 has BOTH a multi-functional steering wheel AND Bluetooth.

But it doesn't do music through bluetooth, only phone pairing for phone calls. So there are lots of different possible configurations out there.

mughni says:

Is it possible to use this dongle for music when you are already connected to car bluetooth for calls? - i also have an Infinity G35 ;)

Bob61 says:

I have G37 Convertible, my Nexus syncs up fine with G37 Bluetooth for music. There is a separate option, one for audio and one for phone however when connecting bluetooth.

Paladin says:

The biggest flaw is it uses a battery. Having to keep this charged all the time would be a pain. I wonder if you could plug it into a USB plug while in use? That would be clunky anyway. As a matter of fact I think this design is clunky regardless having to have a device stick out of your 3.5mm headphone jack that far.

That is just asking to be sheared off when reaching for a drink or something. They should have just put a female jack on it and allowed you to use a separate cable if you wanted. They then could include a male to male connector giving you the same as it is now.

This is exactly how this one is, it is a much nicer design and cheaper.
http://www.amazon.com/Miccus-BluBridge-Mini-Jack-Bluetooth-Bluetooth-Ena...

I personally use a BT adapter that plugs into my "Power port" (cigarette lighter.) Similar to this: http://www.amazon.com/Griffin-Technology-BlueTrip-iPhone-Smartphones/dp/...

It is MUCH nicer since my port is right next to my radio and it has a short cord that plugs into the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Wherever your port is located this type does not stand out and you never have to worry about power. It is just there! It is basically a permanent connection.

Shadowlore says:

I've actually tried a couple of the Miccus ones.. and they're terrible. You have to manually press a button every time you want to connect, and there is some noticeable quality loss.

I've been debating the Monoprice one for awhile now.. have actually heard that one multiple times, and the only quirk is that it requires you to repair with loss of power (no battery)

heathroi says:

The horror of uggh, having to push a button, makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it.

The miccus are pretty good imho, not audiophile but if you wanted that then you would think nothing of the $350min it would take to put HU and adapter, SW controls in my saturn aura or whatever you may have.

the HTC might be worth it if i could get my rom chef to include that codec though.

Shadowlore says:

*laughing* the 'horror' of pushing a button isn't the problem ;) The problem is that if you're trying to go minimalistic (like I am) you want to just plug something in and leave it at that.

My XB has a USB and AUX jack near the armrest, and my thought is to replace it with the newer model armrest, which completely hides those inputs under a false bottom on the armrest... the last thing I'd want to have to do is pull everything out of the arm rest compartment every time I start the car ;)

The sound quality I've ran into may be because I like a lot of bass in my music, and when testing it out.. it just seemed flat. YMMV, I suppose.

The more I think about it, the more I might just replace my HU with the 2012 HU and be done with it. :)

Yeah, I don't get it, honestly. It seems like they tried to come up with a solution without there being a problem. If you have an AUX input & listened to your music that way, why not just use the cable? And if you have a car with built in bluetooth (like Ford Sync) you wouldn't need this to stream music wirelessly. Having it charging while using it would negate the plug & play setup that people would want. The only way I see it being a good idea is if it would pull power from the radio, but that clearly isn't the way it works.

$60 just seems like way too much anyway.

Impulses says:

$60 is pricey, but BT streaming is the bomb even if you have an Aux jack... Adapters like these fail in the sense that you still need to slide your phone out to initiate playback tho. When you have BT integrated into the head unit or you have an adapter like this but with a playback remote (Kensington used to make one) you can simply jump into the car and hit play, which is convenient and you get accustomed to it very fast. Having to slide the phone out of your pocket and plug it in will seem archaic once you're used to that.

You could leave this unit plugged in all the time to a 12V port but no remote functionality means you still need to get the phone from your pocket/purse to initiate and control playback

svargas05 says:

Meh...

Sticking to my cable, but great to know I have this expensive option, just in case!

:D

*Sidenote: You ALWAYS provide great reviews, Phil/AC. I solely rely on your opinions for a true outlook on a device/accessory - REAL*

fernandez21 says:

I currently have a Bluetooth dongle from blackberry tuck away behind my stereo that turns on and automatically pairs with my phone when I turn the car on, would this set up be possible with this one? Reason being the dongle I have is Bluetooth 2.0, while this one is Bluetooth 4.0 with lossless audio and I would really love to upgrade.

bigtank says:

No...I've had for about 24 hours now and have to turn it off/on everytime I get in/out of my car

Here's a usage case: My wife's got a Nissan Rogue, with the AUX port (and USB) inside the center console. So if I plugged my phone directly in there, it'd be a pain to change songs because the lame stereo only recognizes iPhones. :-/

mercado79 says:

Same thing for me. Aux port and secondary charging port are in the center console. With this set up, I could mount my phone on my dash without cumbersome / ugly aux cables all over the place. Price is a little steep though. I'd pay something in the $30 range though.

Side note... Whatever happened to the Evo LTE review? Apple send customs agents to take the phone away or something? I kid, of course. Just looking forward to your insights!

Shadowlore says:

Just ordered one of the monoprice $20 ones... will let ya know how it pans out.

Apparently they're a bit bulkier than this, but seem to have good reviews for the most part.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/subdepartment.asp?c_id=108&cp_id=10827

Paladin says:

Thanks Shadowlore, I never actually used one myself. I just found them on Amazon while searching for something a long time ago. It got great reviews so I went by that. As I said I actually use another type which works great!

ballistic90 says:

Wait, what do you mean that Beats audio turns off when using a non-connected audio method? My wife uses her HTC One S in our Bluetooth enabled car all the time and the Beats audio turns on automatically. And you can hear the difference. Maybe you need to check the settings on your phone?

Kurt85 says:

This was my concern too. I use Pandora in my car a lot and was looking forward to beats on the new Evo to improve sound quality.

So it sounds like I will be able to do this?

Yeah, you're right. Something must have happened during one of my tests. Striking that sentence.

icebike says:

I think he means that you might want beats turned off when using bluetooth into a good car sound system. That's what I found. Turning off beats in the HOX when playing thru the car sounded way better than leaving beats on.

I like beats for earbuds, (at least the crappy earbuds), but pushing beats thru the car system just puts in way too much low end.

Its user selectable in any event, and beats also has more than one profile, plus all the other equalizer profiles (non beats) are available so you are sure to find something to your liking.

Kurt85 says:

Good to hear, thanks Phil & Icebike

This is perfect for my situation (aux and power inside center console). I can hook it to the aux in there and to the charger in there and it will be like a hardwired bluetooth setup. My question for Phil is, does it auto power on when the car turns on if plugged into the power? Will it pair automatically with your Nexus? If it turns on and pairs when the car starts, then it's way less hassle than connecting an aux cable as well as one less cable floating around.

2kTech says:

If connected via jack and then wired via USB, will it work indefinitely? Or after prolonged usage, when the battery tires out, will it no longer charge it enough to continue to power the bluetooth function?

If you wanted to put your phone in a GPS style dock, this free's up needing to run an aux wire to the dock which is a major convenience.

johnstad says:

Question...will you be able to make calls through this adapter?

Here is what my situation would look like if I were to get one of these...

-Stream through this adapter.

-Jabra ICON Headset

If I wanted to make a call, would it route it through my headset or through the adapter?

If a call came through, would it be routed through my headset or the adapter?

Thank you!

Impulses says:

You can control that on the phone. Under BT devices you can open each device's properties and select whether it'll be used for media, phone, or both. HTC's device probably has the media option only since AFAIK it has no microphone for phone duties.

You can also pair to more than one BT device simultaneously, so yeah, you can easily use this for music while simultaneously using a headset for calls... I've done the same thing in the past. Music will mute while you take a call too and automatically resume afterwards (tho that might be a function of Sense rather than stock Android).

Impulses says:

PHIL, do you have any other BT streaming adapters? A comparison between A2DP streaming (lossy & compressed) and the new aptX lossless streaming is in order imo, this device could potentially sound much better than most existing BT 2.0 adapters. I'll probably buy it and check it out myself if anyone's interested... Won't be replacing my current car kit since that one has a fabulous remote I mounted to the steering wheel, but I might replace a Miccus adapter I use for streaming to portable speakers during small get togethers and such.

tobiasg says:

I have a crappy Dual Stereo that has bluetooth built in, twice now it has died on me. But, when it works - so nice to hit play on music/podcast as I slide into the car, phone can be in my pocket and when I turn on the car it just starts playing out the speakers. Answer calls, pause, skip all from the stereo. At $60 bucks those little adapters are a bit on the pricey side. I am now considering this guy

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_105KDX50BT/JVC-KD-X50BT.html

Or

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006B1C88Y/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&link...

I want my bluetooth back!! 1st world problems :/

Flavy says:

My car stereo only allows blutooth connection for phone calls; no streaming music. Can I have my phone connect to both the stereo(for phone calls) and this dongle to handle streaming music through the aux port? I assume when a call comes in, it will stop the music and then the stereo will handle to call through its blutooth connection.

Impulses says:

Yes you can, see one of my previous comments just a few lines up.

Flavy says:

Awesome,thanks for the help.

rfs830 says:

Would you say you get cd quality sound out of it. I have my ipod hooked up with a line out to aux hooked up now and its sounds great. I just hope this will be able to do the same quality. My ipod sounds like like im listening to a cd in my car.

That's the claim of this device, that you get wired quality sound without the wire!

Many people keep making the comment that they'd rather have their phone stream through their bluetooth in-car audio system so they can control the music from the steering wheel. While that's fine, and a nice feature to have, it's a trade off as you will not be getting the uncompressed music streaming that this device offers.

rfs830 says:

If i can get uncompressed music then this will be great. Then I could always get a good android pmp as a dedicated car music player.

kenrico says:

Have this functionality with a SAMSUNG HS3700 Headset, is a BT Earpiece and comes with Stereo Headset that plugs into it or 3.5mm adapter that can plug in also. Easy to use and more convenient than cabling direct to the phone - the only draw back is that it is battery powered. At $60ish the HTC seems less functional than what I already have (bought at half the price), and has the same negative.

Yeah, newegg has this for $30! Migh be worth a look...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16875982446

mercado79 says:

Wow this seems perfect. Anyone that's used it care to comment? My trigger finger is getting itchy.

EDIT: Great reviews on Newegg and Amazon. I found this one that speaks to what we're interested in here: http://www.amazon.com/review/RK7UGJQGBXSMH/ref=cm_srch_res_rtr_alt_3?tag...

Looks like a winner to me.

DG788 says:

I too have the Samsung HS3000. While I use it pretty often it does have its negatives. For instance, it is on Bluetooth 3.0 (as opposed to this HTC donggle on 4.0). With 3.0 there is obvious loss of quality in the low end of songs. Bass is not right. Everything else sounds great.

Bluetooth 4.0 claims lossless audio so any audiophile (like myself) might be intrigued to get the HTC over the samsung.

The Samsung is really nice because it has full audio, volume and call controls built into the unit.

vlbaston says:

If you're car stereo don't have the 3.5 mm jack plug in, is there a way around it to still use it?

dchawk81 says:

5 hours isn't very long. Fine for the daily commuter but I don't even fire up the phone's music for my 20 minute drive to/from work. I'm there or home before I decide what song to listen to first.

I'll stick to cable...it's not THAT inconvenient...for my trips since it won't run out of juice and need charged again.

trophyking says:

Now if it can be also used for phone calls through the radio that would be fantastic!! Does anyone agree?

bigtank says:

It doesnt

I am using it with my 2012 Nissan Maxima for music and using the built in Bluetooth for calls. I have a Galaxy Nexus and Droid Maxx. The Nexus works fine and actually does a better job of pairing to it without manually connecting. The sound is clear , but does not provide as much bass as my old Blackberry Stereo Bluetooth adapter that uses v2 Bluetooth. I have to pair manually every time with the Blackberry device. For those of you with a Razr Maxx it does not work well. Mine would cut out about every 3 to 5 minutes while streaming Slacker but never cut out with the GNex. Surprising, because the Maxx has Bluetooth 4 and the GNex only has Bluetooth 3. I just leave mine plugged into my car adapter so I don't have to worry about recharging it every 5 hours. I will continue testing it against the Blackberry adapter to decide which one to keep. Better bass, but pairing issues or better pairing with less bass.

ryangt03 says:

This may have already been asked and I might have over looked it, I apologize if I did..

If you are using this device, and a call comes in, will the call be BT'd to the dongle and sent through the stereo speakers as well? I use speaker phone a lot in my truck but my lovely HTC speaker went out and just crackles and grumbles when i try to use it...So this would be a nice solution

coolbreeze78 says:

No calls. Streaming audio only. It's not a 2-way device.