Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: Mpow Wireless Bluetooth Radio Adapter

I have a car that is exactly one model year from having an AUX input on the radio, master of timing that I am. I have tried enough FM transmitter boxes to fill the back seat of said car; all have been barely functional at best, largely garbage.

As the result of some web page or other, I went to Amazon and checked out a few, selecting several with great reviews from people who also had back seats full of crappy adapters.

The Mpow seemed to be the Real Deal<tm> so I went with it. In spite of the 3-5 day delivery promise, it arrived the next day. Being tinfoil hat, I never use Bluetooth. Ok, I used it once indoors, with extremely disappointing results on file transfers. Since I desperately wanted some Real Music in my car, I resigned myself to enabling Bluetooth in the car only.

The adapter is different than the other white-box units I tried. It plugs into the lighter socket and has a very handy USB port on the other end. A gooseneck leads to the control portion, complete with digital display of the transmit frequency. Can I be more descriptive? Probably. Will I? No.

Operating the device is pretty simple: you pair it with your phone via Bluetooth. Instructions are included. The PITA part, no fault of the device, is finding a clear spot on the FM band. Look for one with no signals on adjacent frequencies, if at all possible. This will make your experience a lot less frustrating. Tune the adapter via the thumbwheel, fire up your favorite android music player (ok iDevice too) and you're off. Failure to find a decent hole in the FM band may doom you to intermittent hissing and random fart noises (especially if you're listening to Howard Stern).

The unit surprisingly includes two buttons for Next and Previous track. To my surprise, Bluetooth has some neato functions, including muting the music for incoming alerts, allowing next and previous track and not locking the screen (so you can take your eyes off the road for shorter periods of time before you crash the car).


On a side note, my favorite android music player is Dead Beef (free, available in Play Store). I love this player because it's completely unintrusive (I use VLC for everything else on Win/lin/android). It does not insist on searching your entire device for any piece of media it can play. I just point it to my music directory and go. Players that index all of your multimedia files can lead to very embarrassing situations if you don't want everybody hearing or seeing every file on your device (know what I mean, nudge nudge?).


How is it?  Pretty damn cool.

  • I can play my songs over the radio! This is technically referred to as the Wow Factor.
  • By nature, it also works with phone calls, assuming your phone's mic is in decent proximity or sensitive enough. Of course, you need to consider whether or not you want your Significant Other's voice emanating from all of your car's speakers. Entirely your call (so to speak).
  • Gee Whiz blue glow indicator of Bluetooth pairing
  • handy USB adapter

  • the gooseneck is a bit short
  • the volume isn't as loud as the radio
  • the buttons stopped then started working for some reason - looking into it

Updates as I have them.

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