Customer Review

635 of 655 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First impression - this thing is awesome., November 12, 2011
This review is from: Belkin Hands-Free Bluetooth Car Kit for Apple iPod, Apple iPhone, BlackBerry,and Android Smartphones, US Version (Electronics)
This review is based upon my first day's experience using the Belkin with an iPhone 4S and Siri. I wanted to be able to have my iPhone connect to my car stereo for hands-free phone calls and iTunes. I tried the Motorola Freeway, which looked great in the advertisements (one feature is that it automatically connects with your phone when you get in the car), but in real life it was a big disappointment...mainly because it played via FM signal through a separate portable speaker unit that clips to the visor, rather than playing through my car stereo. Since returning the Freeway, I've been hoping something like this Belkin would come along. With the overwhelmingly positive reviews, I couldn't wait to get one of these. I installed it in the car this afternoon. As others have noted, it couldn't be easier; it only took minutes, and in seconds it paired with my phone.

Once you've decided where to mount the microphone/activation button, plugged in the power (to your cigarette lighter) and plugged into the AUX jack, you're good to go. I installed the microphone/selector button on the vertical plane of the dashboard just behind and to the right of the steering wheel (my Scion xB dashboard is PERFECT!) The length of wiring between the cigarette plug and the AUX plug is fairly short, but they do provide you with an extension cable if you need it (I did). Hiding the wires was my car, I just tucked them up inside under the console. A nice feature: the piece that slides into the cigarette lighter socket is about half as long as most car chargers, so it's almost flush with the panel, rather than sticking way out like most car charger plugs. Also nice: you can plug your phone's USB charger cable directly into the front of the charger plug if you wish to charge your phone as you drive.

The microphone/activation button is easy to reach on the dash, the ring's blue glow is not overwhelming, even at night, and I didn't consider mounting it anywhere else (e.g., on the side of the console as some others noted). The music sound is impeccable. The Belkin gets along beautifully with Siri (she helped make and receive phone calls, play music by playlist, artist, and song title, and even turned on shuffle for my playlist, and it all worked seamlessly). You can click the button twice (about a second apart) to advance to the next song.

So now, each time I start the car, the activate button ring is orange. Touch it once and it turns blue, connects with my phone, and starts playing music. Hold the button down for a few seconds and the music fades down and Siri activates. Tell her to do the things she likes to do: make a phone call; she will. Ask for a song or playlist, and she confirms; the music fades back in. When a call comes in, the music fades out; touch the button to answer the call. when the call fades back in. Beautiful sound (and why not? It's your car stereo!) I do notice a very low hum between songs; this may be the interference others have mentioned, and apparently there is a filter you can install to reduce this. I'll look into that, but it really isn't a problem for me. Incoming phone calls: clear, lots of volume, and great quality. At the other end? I'm told there is a bit of a hum but all in all, clear, loud and distortion-free.

Things to note:

1. You definitely need an AUX input, which looks just like the little jack you might plug a set of headphones into, but your AUX jack will take the signal coming out of the Belkin and feed it into your car stereo, where it gets amplified and played through the car's speakers. (AUX is short for 'auxiliary input''re feeding a signal into your car stereo from an outside source.) If your car stereo has an AUX jack, it will be clearly labeled as such. On my Scion, the AUX jack is in the console right next to the optional iPod jack; your AUX may be in your glovebox, on the side of your console, or even on the front panel of your car stereo. If you don't find one, this Belkin isn't for you (at least not right out of the box).

2. When I turn off the car, the Belkin shuts off, and my iPhone stops playing music. When I get back in the car and reconnect with the Belkin, the music picks up where it left off. I'm glad it works this way; I was worried that the iPhone might continue to play music even when I got out of the car, which would just run the phone battery down.

3. To listen to the radio in your car, go ahead and click the Microphone/Activate button as usual, but instead of selecting 'AUX' on your car sound system, select FM or AM. Your phone won't ring through the car stereo, but when you hear (or feel) your phone ring, just hit the AUX button on your car stereo, wait a second for it to switch over, then hit the Microphone/Activate button. When you're finished with the phone call, just reselect the AM or FM button.

4. (Added 11/19): I just downloaded the Navigon 2.0 GPS app for iPhone ($19.99 for US west coast version), and it works through the Belkin bluetooth too! So you can listen to the music on your iPhone AND receive phone calls, AND use the GPS system. As with phone calls, the music fades, the GPS lady tells you where to turn, the music fades back in.

I'll continue to update this review later if future experience warrants it...but as of right now, I couldn't be more thrilled with this product. I NEVER expected it to meet such high expectations...and so far, it exceeds them.
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Tracked by 9 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 51 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2012 2:22:49 PM PST
Gfresh says:
Sorry, does not work well with Siri. The prompt and siri voice are at full volume, no matter what your phone/Siri/ringer volume settings are at. the result is a distorted (almost painfully so) experience. Check around, it's a common problem. Might think about returning mine, however the Bluetooth to aux in is pretty sweet on its own.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2012 9:26:26 PM PST
Shilo says:
Gfresh is correct; the volume of Siri's prompt and her activation 'chimes' are tied to the volume you have your car's sound system set at. Since I keep my music loud in the car (when I'm alone), I try to remember to turn down the volume on the car's audio before activating Siri for a phone call or any other prompt. I'm loving my Belkin so much, though that it's worth dealing with this.

Posted on Mar 6, 2012 7:55:33 PM PST
derekmski says:
Sounds like a problem with Siri not the Belkin, don't have any issues of this sort with my Android phone.

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2012 3:58:39 PM PDT
does anyone know if the VITA works with this device??

Posted on Jul 25, 2012 10:05:22 AM PDT
DeLiQ says:
Excellent review! Thanks so much. :)

Posted on Aug 4, 2012 10:13:02 PM PDT
Will this work with a 3.5mm couple and a cassette adapter?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2012 1:20:42 AM PDT
Shilo says:
Yes, Brian, it does. You're considering this option because you don't have an audio input jack in your car, correct? I bought a second unit for my Audi tt Roadster, and it doesn't have an audio input jack but it does have an in-dash cassette deck. I bought a mid-priced cassette adapter (be sure the one you buy can have the cord come out of either side of the case, because depending on which way your cassette player is installed, you may need to reverse sides for the cable (easily done). Then you need a 3.5mm female-to-female coupler, into which you plug the cassette adapter into one end, and the Belkin into the other. Hide the wires using Sugru or some other putty or tape (use the included extension cable if needed) and plug the charger plug into your cigarette lighter socket. As I noted in my original, the charger plug is only about 1/2 as long as standard 12volt charger plugs, so it may allow you to close the ashtray with the plug inserted. The charger plug also has a built-in USB port so you can plug your phone directly into it for charging while your device is playing music. A note: Sometimes, you have to press the activate button more than once to get the Belkin to 'marry' with your device. Push it once, wait for a beep (sometimes 2); then push it again. This usually does the trick. I must say the sound using a cassette adapter isn't quite as clear and sharp as when you have an audio input jack and can plug directly into the car stereo without going through the cassette player, but for the price, I'm completely happy with mine. Note: If you have an older cassette adapter and the music doesn't sound great, or if one channel isn't coming through clearly, it's possible the adapter needs to be replaced. They're about $15 at Amazon. Made a great deal of difference when I replaced mine. P.S...the only other option for using this Belkin without an audio input jack is if you have a separate CD deck (e.g., mine is behind the driver's seat) you can have someone splice into the cables for that, and it then functions much the same as if you had an audio input jack, so no need for the cassette adapter.

Hope this is helpful. Shilo

Posted on Aug 26, 2012 10:37:09 PM PDT
Will B says:
I have this product. Works great for music. Stereo fidelity is excellent in my car and works as advertised. However, I can find no circumstance where this product will prompt Siri. The only way I was able to activate Siri was the traditional way using the 'Home' button on my iPhone. Unless there is a setting on my iPhone 4S that I am not aware of, the statement in Shilo's review concerning Siri is misleading. It is true that once Siri is activated, it will work normally. However, if your iPhone is in your pocket or purse, based on my experience you will not be able to activate Siri without retrieving it first.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2012 11:49:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 26, 2012 11:50:34 PM PDT
Shilo says:
As noted above, I have two of these units, one in my Scion and one in my Audi TT. With my iPhone 4S in my pocket, I am able to prompt Siri using this product when music from my iPhone is playing through either of my car's sound systems. I do this by holding down the microphone/activation button (on the Belkin) for approximately 2 seconds; the music fades out, I hear the chime, and then speak my command (including 'Call John Doe', 'Text John Doe', 'Email John Doe', 'Read texts', 'Play Pink Floyd' and 'Divide 144 by 12'. If I have made a phone call, the music fades back in once the call is completed.

Will B., unless I'm misunderstanding something, if you're listening to music from your iPhone 4S using this Belkin unit to play through your car's sound system, it sounds like everything is hooked up properly. If you just hold down the activation button for a couple of seconds until you hear the chime, you should be able to just speak your command. Note that Siri doesn't say anything until you give her a command, and then she will confirm, or ask for more information. For example, you hold down the activation button, wait for the chime. Say 'Text John Doe.' Siri will reply, 'OK. I can text John Doe. What would you like the text to say?' You say 'I'll see you for dinner at 6pm at Red Lobster.' Siri will read it back to you and say 'Are you ready to send?' You say 'Yes.' Siri replies 'Alright. I'll send it.' (After using Siri for things like this, you sometimes need to hit the activation button one time to restart your music, though after a phone call completes, the music comes back on its own.)

To pair the Belkin with the iPhone, each time I get into the car I tap the button once, wait for a quick tone, wait 10 seconds or so until I hear a second tone which I guess is confirming the unit has paired with my iPhone. After the second tone, tapping the button again activates the music on my phone.

Without that second tap, the music doesn't play...(for example, if I have a passenger in the car and I don't want music) but if I hold down the button for a couple of seconds, it still activates Siri through the car's sound system, and I can tell her to make a phone call, play a different album, etc.

I will say that on very rare occasions, a unit doesn't pair with my iPhone on the first try, and I have to go through the process again, and once in a GREAT while, I have to unplug the power adapter and plug it back in (most notably, in my Audi), which seems to reset the unit.

I hope this is helpful to Will B and others.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2012 6:05:20 PM PDT
Will B says:
Nope. Tried it again. No Siri activation from the Belkin. Everything else works great, so I'm not complaining. And once I activate Siri using my phone, everything works as you describe. I use it every day.
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Location: Palm Springs, California

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