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Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Car Kit review

on July 8, 2014 5:00 am

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A few weeks ago I posted an article about two of my Cummins co-workers who had integrated a Nexus 7 tablet into their vehicles. I was really impressed by their ingenuity and was inspired to inject a little more tech into my 2013 MINI Cooper. You’d probably think my car would have all the tech bells and whistles that you could ever imagine, but it doesn’t because the dealership talked me out of the expensive tech package when I bought my car last year. I ended up just getting Sirius radio and Bluetooth hands-free calling. My free year of Sirius radio expires in just a few days and I’ve decided not to renew because it’s too expensive when I only listen to 4 stations on a regular basis. I figured with all the music streaming apps that I could just use my Android smartphone (Samsung Galaxy Note 2) as an alternative to satellite radio. But unfortunately the Bluetooth in my MINI does not allow for audio streaming. It’s strictly for calls only. But did I let that stop me? Heck no, I bought the Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Car Kit. So hop in the passenger seat, buckle up and let’s take it for a spin.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.

Package contents

Kinivo BT450
2 3M adhesive pads
3.5mm extension cable
User manual

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The Kinivo BTC450 is a Bluetooth Car Kit that not only offers hands-free calling features, but also offers audio streaming – a feature missing on my 2013 MINI Cooper. The BTC450 is a small black plastic disc that is about the same diameter as a half dollar coin. The top surface is a large multi-function button with a microphone at the 5′o-clock location and a status LED at the 9’0-clock location.

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The multi-function button is used to answer/end calls, redial calls, initiate voice command mode (for Siri enabled iPhones) and pause/play music.

The top edge of the device also has a rocker button that controls media navigation for previous and next tracks.

From the BTC450 there’s a thin cable that has two leads. One lead goes to a 12V car adapter and the other is a 3.5mm stereo cable.

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The 12V adapter plugs into an open port in your car and the 3.5mm cable plugs into the AUX Input audio jack in your car’s stereo. The 12V adapter has a USB port so you can also use it to charge your phone. The cable is long enough that you can route the BTC450 to a location on your dash and attach it there using the included 3M adhesive stickers. I didn’t want to do that for two reasons. First of all I didn’t need to use the BTC450′s hands-free calling feature because that feature is already built into my car and secondly, I didn’t want to stick anything to my MINI’s dash. So I was able to locate everything out of the way and pretty much out of sight in the center console.

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Pairing the BTC450 with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was very easy because the BTC450 automatically goes into pairing mode as soon as you start your car. Once paired, I went into the Bluetooth settings for the BTC450 and turned off the call audio feature, leaving just the media audio enabled. That way I could still use my MINI’s built in Bluetooth calling feature and steering wheel controls.

I did test the Kinivo’s call features though and I’m sorry to say that I was not impressed. It’s actually kind of crummy and I’ve been asked if I fell down a well while using the BTC450 to talk to Jeanne. That said, She sometimes complains about my MINI’s stock Bluetooth too.

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The main reason I bought the Kinivo was for it’s audio streaming. The Kinivo BTC450 supports A2DP, HSP, HFP and AVRCP profiles. I was VERY impressed with the audio streaming quality using my phone and apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio (my personal favorite) and others. In my opinion audio quality using the Kinivo sounds noticeably better than the Sirius radio audio quality. I was never all that impressed with my MINI’s stereo and Harman Kardon speakers until I started using the Kinivo. Now I’m happy and won’t miss Sirius radio at all.

If your vehicle does not have Bluetooth audio streaming but your car’s stereo has an AUX input, you should definitely check out the Kinivo BTC450. It’s a very affordable way to enjoy music through your smartphone and car stereo without having to install a whole new stereo / head unit.

Source: I purchased the Kinivo BT450 Bluetooth Car Kit for this review. For more info about this device, visit Kinivo.com.

 

Product Information

Price:$39.99
Manufacturer:Kinivo
Retailer:Amazon
Pros:
  • Automatically powers on when you turn on the car
  • Prev and Next buttons control any music app
  • Great audio quality
  • Provides USB charging port
Cons:
  • Thin cables
  • Call quality is not the best

Comments

  1. 1
    Rick Smith says:

    Love that you’re a Warren Zevon fan! Certainly one that left us too soon….

  2. 2

    @Rick I’m a child of the 70′s :)

  3. 3
    Ray Raddatz says:

    It’s good to see your experience mirrored mine. I think the audio quality is so good because it supports apt-X.

    I had BlackBerry Remote Stereo Bluetooth Gateway in my car before and it did not support apt-X. I think it’s audio quality suffered because of that.

  4. 4

    Kinivo just announced a new version of this product today. The BTC455. It appears that the only change is that it now allows 2 devices to be paired with it. You can find more info here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Kinivo-BTC455-Bluetooth-Hands-Free-Input/dp/B00JK0G8KC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404744032&sr=8-1&keywords=Kinivo+BTC455

  5. 5
    Aphoid says:

    Another reason to mount the puck would be to put the microphone closer to the head of the person speaking. Did you test the call quality like that?

  6. 6

    @Aphoid I tested the call quality with the puck temporarily taped to my dash (where it would normally be placed in most vehicles). Call quality was not very good. I would not rely on this product for that feature unless you make very few calls. It does work for calls, it just don’t work well. Where it shines is with audio music streaming through your car’s stereo.

  7. 7
    Tim Stewart says:

    Hi Julie – I bought one of these when I bought my RAV4 last December. I use it daily and I love it! I mounted the puck on the side of the radio cluster near steering wheel, and my voice comes through very clearly for my callers. BTW I’ve been reading your site since about 1997. :)

  8. 8

    @Tim wow, thanks for sticking with us all these years! The issue with using the Kinivo for calls must be hit or miss, but there are lots of people complaining about it in the Amazon reviews, so I know it’s not just me.

  9. 9
    JoeCNM says:

    Julie – Thanks for the great review. I’ve been playing with the BTC450 and agree with you – the audio streaming is great but the mic is pretty lousy. I noticed you disabled audio calling – I assume that can be done on an Android phone but not an iPhone. I wish I could do the same but I’m on an iPhone.

    I was using a HomeSpot BTADP-233 before the BTC450 but it wouldn’t always auto connect to my phone and required a lot of fiddling. So far the BTC450 is always spot on in terms of connecting to my phone when I turn on the car.
    Thanks,
    Joe

  10. 10

    @JoeCNM Yes, I turned off call audio on the Kinivo because I already have that feature built into my car and only needed/wanted the music streaming feature. I’m still really happy with the Kinivo. Are you sure you can’t turn off the call audio feature on your iPhone? Poke around in the Bluetooth settings for that specific connection, the option might be there.

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