iClever IC-F53 Bluetooth FM transmitter review

{ 4 comments }

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The majority of my workday involves me driving around a Police car, patrolling the town. As a football fan, I spend a good deal of time listening to Sports Talk radio in the Police car. As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I spend an even greater amount of time experiencing frustration. Occasionally, I grow weary of hearing all the different ways my fellow Eagles fans can say “maybe next year”. It’s those times I have to take a break from Sports Talk radio.

I have a ton of different podcasts I enjoy listening too and several great – in my opinion – music playlists saved on my phone; unfortunately, the Police cars I drive aren’t equipped with Bluetooth.

I previously resolved this issue with the iClever IC-F33 Bluetooth transmitter that I reviewed. It is a device that connects to your phone via Bluetooth and transmits audio to your car’s FM stereo. This gadget worked really well, but wasn’t without its issues.

Recently, iClever sent me a similar device to review, the IC-F53 Bluetooth FM transmitter. Let’s find out if iClever improved upon the F33.

DON’T MISS: Julie’s gadget diary – How I set up handsfree media control in my MINI Cooper

Design

The F53 is a simple device. Like the F33, this device connects to your phone using Bluetooth and plays audio through your car stereo using an FM modulator.

The device is very compact; you can see in the picture below, it barely extends past the vehicle’s console.

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The top of the F53 has a LED display which shows the current FM station the device is transmitting to. The top also has a small, pinhole microphone that allows you to use the device for hands-free phone calls.

The rubber circle around the head of the F53 can be removed, revealing a micro SD card slot.

There isn’t much to the design of the F53, it’s a simple device with a simple design.

Setup

The F53 can be used in two different ways, via Bluetooth or through the use of a micro SD card.

As soon as you place the F53 into your car’s power port, it enters Bluetooth pairing mode. You then go to your phone’s Bluetooth menu, select IC-F53 from the available devices, and enter the passcode listed in the user manual.

Next, you have to find an FM station that isn’t being used in your area. Once you find a suitable station, you press down on the F53 until the display flashes. From there, you twist the head of the device to tune to the FM station you selected. After these steps are completed, you can use the F53 to stream audio or for hands-free calling.

To stream music from a micro SD card, you only need to place the card into the card slot. As soon as a mico USB card is entered, the F53 begins to stream music from it. From what I can tell, if the F53 is connected by Bluetooth and has a micro SD card inserted, the micro SD card takes precedence. If you haven’t done so already, you will have to go through the steps to find a proper FM station for transmitting.

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The F53 fit into my vehicle perfectly and barely took up any space in the compartment where my power port is located.

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Compare that to the F33 which took up half of the exact same compartment.

I only experienced one minor issue during setup, the micro SD card is difficult to insert and remove. The problem is it rests too deep into its port. While most devices allow a memory card to stick out from its port a minuscule amount, the F53 has the card embedded just past flush.

To get the micro SD card in all the way, I always had to use something to push it because my finger couldn’t do it. When attempting to remove it, I had to do the same to get the F53 to eject the card.

It’s not the worst flaw I’ve ever come across, but can be a nuisance.

Performance

I spent several hours over the course of several days streaming audio through the F53. I streamed podcasts, music, and even used it to watch Netflix. I came away very impressed with the sound quality the F53 produced. I didn’t experience any issues with static or background noise; in fact, I found the sound quality to be on par with the strongest FM stations on my car stereo. Bear in mind sound quality will largely be dependent on your ability to find a clear FM station for the device to transmit to.

The F53 can also be used to control playback when streaming audio.

Pushing on the device will play and pause audio, while quickly twisting and releasing the head of the F53 will skip tracks forward or backward. Twisting and holding the head of the F53 will adjust volume.

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If you are using the micro SD to play music, rotating the head of the F53 will briefly display the track number you are currently playing.

If you receive a phone call while the F53 is paired to your phone, you can answer the call by pushing on the device. When the call is complete you can hang up by pressing the device again. Unfortunately, there is no way to initialize calls from the F53.

I used the device for several conversations and was very impressed with the sound quality. The sound from the person I was speaking with was extremely clear, almost identical to my car’s Bluetooth.

What really impressed me was the way the people I was speaking with described the sound.

At the end of most conversations I asked about sound quality. I was told multiple times that the person had no idea I was speaking hands-free. One person told me the F53 sounded better than my car’s Bluetooth.

Remote Control

I found it interesting that the F53 came with a remote control. At first I thought it was a useless feature, but I later came to realize it can be quite useful. When the F53 was placed in my car, it was just out of reach and I wasn’t able to easily control playback. Fortunately, I could leave the remote in a cup holder and use it to control the F53.

The remote works exactly as you would expect it to. You can use it to play and pause music, skip tracks, adjust volume, and answer calls. Additionally, you can use the keypad to enter an exact FM station instead of having to scroll through stations by twisting the F53.

Conclusion

I thought the F53 was fantastic. It delivered great sound whether I was streaming podcasts, music, or movies. Additionally, it works great for hands-free phone calls. The fact that it’s so compact is another plus.

Yes, there was the small issue of inserting/removing the micro SD card, but it’s such a minor issue it can easily be overlooked. Other than that, the F53 was issue free.

If you regularly drive a vehicle without Bluetooth, I highly recommend the F53.

Update 07/03/16

Everyone that owns a car without Bluetooth should just order one of these right away.  I have streamed hundreds of hours of audio in my Police car without issue.  Whether it’s music, a podcast, or a phone call, this device just works flawlessly.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by iClever. Please visit their site for more information and Amazon to order one.

 

Product Information

Price:$27.99
Manufacturer:iClever
Retailer:Amazon
Requirements:
  • Bluetooth 3.0 and above
Pros:
  • Great sound quality
  • Works great in hands-free mode
  • Compact
  • Remote control
Cons:
  • Micro SD card can be difficult to insert/remove
Posted in: Bluetooth Gear, Car Gear, Reviews
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • vn33 February 5, 2016, 11:13 am

    Thanks for the review .. just bought one 🙂

  • Norm February 5, 2016, 4:42 pm

    If you have a card in can you still receive phone calls?

  • Dennis Moore February 5, 2016, 4:48 pm

    You’re welcome vn33, I hope you enjoy it.

    Norm, that’s a great question and one I never thought to investigate. I’ll try it when I get the chance this weekend, but I would imagine you still receive phone calls. It was still connected to my phone when the card was in, it just defaulted to playing from the card right away.

  • Norm February 5, 2016, 5:07 pm

    Thanks

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