Review: Kensington’s LiquidAUX Bluetooth Car Kit Is Only As Strong As Its Weakest Link, Its (Weak) Microphone
Seems like a no-brainer: Take two different concepts that work great separately, Frankenstein them together and — viola! Instant more amazingness!
Except we all know how the Frankenstein story ended. The LiquidAUX story isn’t as ugly as that. But it isn’t pretty either.
Bash the jump for the full review.
Kensington took their standard LiquidAUX Car Kit — which reroutes your iPhone’s music to your car’s speakers through an auxiliary input jack — and combined it with a Bluetooth connection, with the idea of adding hands-free phone functionality. Unfortunately, the concept’s nuts and bolts don’t work as well as I’d hoped.
For starters, the microphone’s placement in the cigarette lighter adapter means that the less-than-ideally-sensitive mic has a hard time picking up speech. in our Honda Element test vehicle, the lighter is way over on the passenger side, which made it nearly impossible for callers to hear my inane chatter properly; the problem was only somewhat overcome with my mouth only a foot or so away from the mic. Compounding the issue was a fairly common complaint that I sounded like I was in a tunnel. Unfortunate, because voices on the other end sounded great through the car’s speakers.
In line with the quality of other Bluetooth devices we’ve tested that stream music, my prodigious collection of electronica sounded pretty good streamed through the LiquidAUX, but not as good when compared with running tunes through a cable from my iPhone to the aux port.
And Apple still hasn’t given the iPhone support for the AVRCP Bluetooth protocol, which means the skip/review track buttons on the remote are just pretty buttons.
With a crippled microphone, no support for skip/review and music quality that’s almost-but-not-quite as good as just using a cable, the only absolutely clear advantage to using this setup is gaining a play/pause button on the steering wheel.
The silver lining here is that the Bluetooth LiquidAUX is about — get ready for the double-take — $25 at Amazon.com, a heck of a bargain. In fact, the opportunity to vehemently disagree with me has never been cheaper.