In addition to picking up some tech podcasts for my commute, I also wanted to adapt my car to use Bluetooth for hands-free communication and using the car’s speakers for playback. My car is old enough that it does not natively have Bluetooth but it does have a 3.5mm AUX port where I can plug devices in. The common 3.5 mm connection from the headphone jack is very common but it has always been a little finicky with the cable having to be just right to get clear audio. Then you hit a bump and it wiggles just enough that the audio is messed up and is not something you want to fight with while you’re driving.
I read about the often recommended Himbox from iClever as a Bluetooth adapter and ordered it for myself. It’s a nifty device with a microphone/controller that pairs over Bluetooth to your phone. It then has a USB cable for power and a 3.5mm AUX jack to connect to your car’s audio. I already had a cigarette lighter to USB Type C charger that has worked out great and utilizes the “charging rapidly” capability. I was able to use one of its spare ports and connect the Himbox for power. I have not used the included adapter.
Connecting to the AUX jack of the car has certainly solved the instability issue with the audio connection. I connected it, in place of the male-to-male cable that I had and turning the car’s audio system to AUX, I was greeted with a voice giving the status: “Powering on.” and after pairing my phone “Device connected.”
I was pleasantly surprised that the length of the cords were sufficient. The aux jack and cigarette lighter are close enough to reach and the microphone can be positioned within easy reach. The cables are a little messy with connecting my phone to the charger as well but it is very much set-and-forget, perfect for driving. The back of the mic/controller is magnetic and it came with a clip-on plate as well as a double-sided tape plate for a more permanent positioning.
The audio playback has been crystal clear. Before using the adapter with road noise at interstate highway speeds, I would find myself having to put the phone in my lap at maximum volume to have it audible. During a rain, I was not able to get it loud enough to hear. With the Himbox, the volume is not an issue. I can reach a comfortable level and have room to increase if needed. Listening to music and podcasts has been enjoyable and I have not had to straight to hear or rewind to hear something again.
Using the bluetooth controller has been convenient. It can activate Siri/Google Now as well as control media playback. Testing out phone call quality, it was great on my end. I was able to hear the other person just fine. They did complain about an echo but it was still understandable and seemed to be better than the echo/feedback that the speaker phone was generating. The hands-free call certainly beats a ticket if you are in a state with that law.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the device. As I don’t make or take a lot of phone calls, the bluetooth pairing was my main concern. You might have to evaluate the echo if you are a frequent caller and compare it to alternative options. I picked up the iClever Himbox HB01+ from Amazon for $34.99 which is listed as upgraded with Apt-X technology for higher sound quality.