Invented in 1994 by the Swedish company Ericson, "Bluetooth" technology uses radio waves to send information wirelessly between one or more devices located in very close physical proximity. While AM/FM radio signals, satellite transmissions, television, and cell phones also use radio waves, Bluetooth uses the unlicensed but regulated 2.4 - to 2.485 Gigahertz band range.
Bluetooth is named after a 10th century Danish king Harold Bluetooth who worked to connect and unite warring factions located close together in parts of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In the waning years of the 20th century, as digital radio wave transmission technology advanced, components became smaller in size and able to handle much more information such as voice, videos, photos, music, and more at rapid speeds. With the invention of iPods and smartphones, Bluetooth made sense in automotive applications.
A number automobiles built in recent years are equipped with a Bluetooth module designed to recognize the presence of another Bluetooth-equipped device and pair with it. Not so long ago, older vehicles built without Bluetooth required a hard wire connection into the back of the radio in order to play music from an iPod. Today, there are a wealth of Bluetooth kits available that let you play that music on your vehicle's stereo without wire connections.
If you've got an older or classic vehicle not equipped with Bluetooth, kits are available with a self-contained Bluetooth module that will get the job done. Depending on your preference, some are free-standing and others are designed to be wired to your vehicle, with Bluetooth handling the wireless connection from your device to the car. In this article, we'll break down the types of Bluetooth kits we offer and discuss how they work in order to help you decide what's right for your vehicle and usage.
Portable Bluetooth Kits That Don't Need Permanent Installation
For those who appreciate simplicity and want to avoid any hard wire connections, Sondpex's Sunvisor Bluetooth Speaker and Hands Free Kit, Parrot's Minikit + Portable Bluetooth Hands-Free Kit, and Veho’s Bluetooth Handsfee Car Kit units all clip onto your sun visor, make a Bluetooth connection to your smart phone, then let you carry on a hands-free conversation through built-in speakers. These units are completely self-contained, so there's no wiring anything into the back of your vehicle's radio or dash.
The Sondpex Tunes2Go™ Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit with FM Transmitter connects to your smart phone via a Bluetooth connection, then broadcasts music via a built-in FM transmitter over the airwaves to your vehicle's FM radio. A built-in microphone picks up your voice when you want to have a hands-free phone call, and you'll hear the other person on the line through your vehicle's speakers thanks to an FM broadcaster sending it to the radio.
The Sondpex® Tunes2Go™ Hands Free Kit and FM Transmitter with USB Charger also lets you stream music from a range of phones (iPhone, Galaxy, Nokia) through your car stereo, but adds a microphone so you can talk on the phone hands-free through the car stereo. An adjustable stand secures any design of cell phone. No hardwiring is required because this transfers everything collected from your cell phone to your vehicle's stereo over the FM frequency of your choice.
TomTom's Hands Free Car Kit for Smartphones is a cradle with its own built-in speaker that makes a Bluetooth connection to your iPhone or smartphone. Once you've mounted it on your dash or windshield, the cradle can be rotated or swiveled for easy use. A separate microphone mounts anywhere in the vehicle, and the phone can even be kept in your pocket during conversations.
If Your Vehicle Already Has An Auxiliary Input Jack
If your vehicle has an auxiliary input jack in the center console or radio, Rockford Fosgate's Bluetooth Audio Adapter plugs into it, makes a connection to your Bluetooth enabled device, then wirelessly streams media from your music library, Pandora, Rhapsody, or others.
Sondpex’s Stereo Bluetooth USB Dongle plugs into any device with a USB port, then provides Bluetooth connectivity to stream audio from car MP3 players, FM transmitters, and more. It also includes a built-in hands-free microphone.
Permanently Installed Bluetooth Systems and What They Offer
The PAC iSimple Bluetooth Enabled FM Remote for Android Smartphone is a low-cost, permanently installed kit designed for those who simply want to stream music from an Android smartphone through the car stereo. It includes a module with wiring and RCA jack that will fit most traditional car stereos, and allows you to access any FM station through your Android. And if you want Bluetooth integration with a new aftermarket radio on a late-model General Motors vehicle, the PAC Bluetooth Integration kit uses Bluetooth technology to allow you to keep or enhance factory functionality with an aftermarket sound system.
If you or someone you know would appreciate the ability to give voice commands to a Bluetooth system, Parrot offers several installed kits designed to work with any vehicle. For fingertip controls within easy reach, the Advanced Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit comes with a wireless control pad that mounts on your steering wheel, a separate microphone, LCD screen, dashboard mounting kit, and cables that plug directly in to iPods, MP3 thumb drives, or smart phones. It will recognize voice commands to play music or dial phone numbers automatically for hands-free phone conversations over your vehicle's speakers.
For slightly less money, Parrot's installed Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit with In-Dash Keyboard & External Microphone offers these same features without the wireless steering wheel controls or LCD screen. The Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit with LCD adds the LCD screen, but not the steering wheel control pad. All three of these kits allow pairing with up to three separate phones.
And if you've already got a Bluetooth module in your vehicle and want to replace the factory stereo with an aftermarket one, the Axxess Bluetooth Integration Harness lets you do that at a low cost. It's designed to work with a variety of hands-free kits that use standard ISO connectors on their wiring harnesses.
To help guide you through the selection of Bluetooth kits, we have set up our website to provide you as much information as possible about each product. While you're there, be sure to check out all the other audio and electronics products we offer for your car, your boat, and your home.