How do I Choose the Best Car Stereo with Bluetooth&Reg;?

Amanda Lacasse

There are several in-dash car stereo systems on the market with Bluetooth® capabilities, allowing hands-free calling via a compatible cell phone while driving. Choosing the best system means making a few decisions regarding the myriad options available. Music streaming ability, touch screen ease of use and number of AV inputs and outputs are all options that should be considered when shopping for a car stereo with Bluetooth®.

Car stereos with Bluetooth capabilities allow for hands-free calling.
Car stereos with Bluetooth capabilities allow for hands-free calling.

Older car stereo units require add-on external modules to use with Bluetooth®, but there are a number of new models of car stereo with Bluetooth® built in. Not only do these systems offer hands-free calling, but they have many other options, as well. While most have built-in AM/FM radios and CD players, others also are able to integrate music stored on MP3 players. A few support advance audio distribution profile (A2DP) audio streaming, allowing the user to stream music from other Bluetooth® mobile devices. Others even allow one to watch DVDs.

Many Bluetooth stereos have touch screens.
Many Bluetooth stereos have touch screens.

The user interface may be either touchpad or touch screen, with the latter seeming to offer the most convenience. The size of the screen may make a difference with ease of use, and visibility is sometimes a concern, because the screen may be either too bright or not bright enough. The size and visibility of the screen is particularly important if the user plans to watch video on the device. Some touch screens are customizable, while others are not.

When using a car stereo with Bluetooth®, it is important to consider safety as well as convenience. A straightforward, easily navigable menu display is a must, and a consumer may wish to have the touch screen display caller ID and imported contacts information for hands-free calling. Reading professional reviews about these products as well as user reviews on the Internet is a good way to ascertain which devices offer these options. Some car stereo with Bluetooth® systems come with microphones that are either behind the faceplate or too small to convey adequate sound quality, so user reviews will be especially useful in that regard.

Other enticing options include units that have multiple auxiliary inputs for connecting portable devices such as laptops and outputs that allow the user to attach subwoofers and amplifiers. The location of these jacks differ, and some systems place one or two in the front for convenience. Some types of car stereo with Bluetooth® also come ready to accept high-definition and satellite radio services, if desired. Those who prefer using knobs to control volume and selections will be able to find these on some of these car stereos, but not all offer this option.

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Discussion Comments


The best way to test Bluetooth on a car stereo system is to simply test it first with the equipment you want to use with it. How easy it is it to connect to Bluetooth and do the features work as you'd expect? Some Bluetooth systems are better than others and some software that interfaces with Bluetooth-enabled devices is better than others. There are a surprising amount of variances from vehicle to vehicle.

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