The Kinovo BTC450 is an affordable Bluetooth hands-free car kit capable of voice calling & music playback.
I just purchased an Audi Q5 and was disappointed to find out the Bluetooth capability was limited strictly to calling and did not support music playback. Since I'm a Spotify Premium subscriber and wanted to have access to this while driving, I decided to look for a 3rd party accessory that would support Bluetooth music playback for less than $60.
After doing some research, it came down to choosing between the Kinovo BTC450 and the Belkin Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit. In the end, I decided to go with the Kinovo BTC450 since it had a better average customer rating (Amazon) and was also $10 cheaper. I'm happy with my decision and I'll explain you why throughout the rest of the review.
Design & Build Quality
Unboxing the Kinovo BTC450, I was surprised at the well thought-out design and solid build materials. The BTC450 features a small mountable button which is attached to the power adapter (with built-in USB port) as well as a male 3.5mm stereo plug. Due to this design, it requires you to have a 12V power source (cigarette lighter) and an open auxiliary port located in the front portion of your car. Most cars made within the past 5-7 years will have this feature (aux is usually found in the glove box or center console), but it is important to verify you have these two components before purchasing as this kit will not work without them.
The build quality is beyond what I expected for under $40. The button assembly and power adapter are both made of durable materials though they differ from one another in the finish/texture. The cabling is long to help fit any wiring situation and is thin, yet durable.
The two most notable features of the BTC450's design is the integrated USB port (power adapter) and the music controls on the top of the button assembly. These features should be pretty self-explanatory, but I'll get into more detail in the next section below.
This kit is meant to provide your car with both Bluetooth calling and music playback capabilities via your smartphone while utilizing your car's speaker system to project the audio. The Bluetooth calling is made possible via a microphone that is integrated into the button assembly which requires this button to be mounted somewhere within reach using the included 3M double adhesive pad.
The button assembly is the key component to this kit as it acts as your “mission control”. Once your smartphone is synced, the button can be pressed to begin playing music and pressed yet again to pause the song. At the top of the assembly there are two smaller buttons which allow you to skip to the next song or return to the previous song. This is a great feature as it allows you to easily swap songs without having to become distracted by fiddling with your smartphone.
Now when a call comes in, the music will dim and you press the button to answer the phone. To initiate a call, you must do so via your smartphone or if you happen to own an iPhone 4S or 5, you can hold down the button and start the call via Siri (much like you would via your iPhone's home button).
The integrated USB on the power adapter gives you the ability to charge your smartphone while in the car using your standard USB cable. This is a very convenient feature that “kills two birds with one stone” as you don't need to rely on purchasing a separate car charger or adapter to receive this functionality.
Another competitive feature that this kit harnesses which the Belkin does not is the ability to have your device auto-connect each time you step into your car. This is ultra-convenient and way better than the Belkin that requires you to remember to press their button every time before you start driving to initiate the Bluetooth connection and be able to use their kit.
I have used the Kinovo BTC450 for just over two weeks now and so far I have been very happy with its overall performance though I did find a few hiccups here and there. First off, the biggest problem I have encountered occurs directly after I end a phone call. For example, if I'm streaming Spotify music and a friend's call comes in, I will answer the call and have a conversation. When the call ends, the music resumes play on my iPhone, however my car's speakers will not put out any audio even though the Bluetooth connection is still live and functioning.
As soon as I turn the car off and back on, the music will begin to play again as expected. I was able to narrow down the problem and figured out that if I unplug the power adapter and reset it after a call is completed, it resets the Bluetooth kit and resume's the audio playback as expected. Though this can be a pain, it is a simple fix and for the $40 I had paid for this Bluetooth system, a minor issue like this is nothing to complain about considering the performance otherwise is excellent.
Since my car originally had Bluetooth calling on its own, I was worried about the two systems having complications working together. Fortunately, I am able to connect to Bluetooth on both the car's Bluetooth system and the BTC450 kit simultaneously in which they work hand-in-hand together. This means I can either answer the call via the Kinovo button or through my steering wheel controls while they both will use the same Audi Bluetooth calling system (which is slightly superior to the BTC450). I can also use Siri via the BTC450 and it will still make the call through the car's native Bluetooth calling system.
In the end, I found the Kinovo BTC450 to be an excellent hands-free Bluetooth solution for your car at an affordable price tag. The design and performance are excellent although I did encounter a few bugs that still need to be worked out. Regardless of these minor issues, I think your money is well spent purchasing this kit especially compared to higher priced competitors like the Belkin that do not offer as much functionality as the BTC450. I would recommend any prospective buyers pick up this product if they are in the market for a Bluetooth hands-free car kit.