Chris shared with us the history of car stereos on this week’s IFA History Feature
In 1968 the first car radio with integrated compact cassette player was introduced by Philips, but still only in mono. Only one year later, at the Funkausstellung, or IFA, stereo arrived in the car as Blaupunkt introduced the first car radio in stereo sound. Becker, another German manufacturer, integrated a compact cassette player into the model “Mexico” with stereo sound for the cassette, but still only mono for the radio.
Shawn in Redmond, Oregon asked us about using Chromecast on the go
He asked: “Google Chromecast- I would like to be able to use it in my truck. I’m on the road a lot. Can I use my iPhone’s hotspot or does it have to be some sort of land-based wi-fi. I almost bought one since they’re only $35 and come with like 200 channels. But I don’t know if I could use my iPhone’s hotspot for the connection it requires.”
You will probably have a hard time using your iPhone as the access point for a Chromecast.
Typically, when your iPhone acts as a hotspot it knows that it is the source of the connection and it doesn’t consider itself to be connected to itself, just sharing the connection it’s getting from it’s own internet provider, so it acts a little differently.
Some people have had some success, but it may or may not last. The other problem you will very quickly run into is that your iPhone probably has either a limited data plan, or a limited tethering plan, and both will feel the weight of video streaming very, very quickly. To give you an idea, Netflix claims that to stream standard definition content, uses 700MB/hour, and as the quality increases the bandwidth really increases, up to around 7GB/hour for UltraHD content. Whoever you’re getting your data from will love you, but whoever you bank with will panic.
If you’re mobile, you may be better off paying for an unlimited data plan that allows you stream on your phone, even if it’s a smaller screen. That way at least you won’t have to worry about nasty surprises at the end of the month.
What would work much better for you is to buy an Apple TV. Apple recently dropped the price to $69 for that device and with it, you’d have access to AirPlay. AirPlay would allow you to easily play streaming video content from your iPhone over your Apple TV. Both the iPhone and the Apple TV will need to be on the same wireless network, however, and you’re still going to have to deal with the question of how you get data on that network.
You will probably have to engage the hotspot on your phone and then link your Apple TV to your iPhone. But we’re still going to running up hard against the brick wall of your wireless data plan.
Streaming video, as we said already, will shred your data plan. And unlimited data plans…simply aren’t. They may not charge you for it, but there is a soft cap in there somewhere, and something WILL happen to you (typically network throttling) when you go beyond a predetermined limit.
But for video streaming using an iPhone, the Apple TV can’t be beat.
We should mention recently Google announced new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio devices and a new app, we don’t know if that will change the way Chromecast works with a hotspot, but it may be worth trying, just in case.
Ron in Nashville, Tennessee asked us about upgrading his car stereo
Ron asked: “My car has an aux in jack, but no bluetooth. I’d rather not replace the car stereo just to add Bluetooth. I’m looking for an adapter that would go Bluetooth into the aux in jack. Is there a model you recommend? Do they work well? Or would you recommend that I change out the car stereo?”
You should definitely not change that car stereo– that would be a VERY extreme measure to take in order to add Bluetooth to your vehicle and way more costly than the solution we would suggest. The solution to your question is simple, all you need is a Bluetooth car adapter!
Online you can find several, and the prices of these devices are pretty low. We’re not sure what your price range is, and it’s completely up to you, but we could suggest a few in different price ranges and we’re sure you’ll be able to make your mind up on your own.
If you already have an aux-in jack, then you’re already one step ahead. You see, some of these adapters work as FM transmitters, and I’ve used many of them in the past and always advise against them, as the sound can sometimes be gritty and have a lot of interference — which isn’t very pleasant while you’re driving and trying to enjoy some music or listen to a call. You should certainly stick with an adapter that uses an aux jack.
On the cheaper side, there’s the “Mpow Portable Bluetooth 3.0 Audio Music Streaming Receiver Adapter”. This Mpow device is one of the most affordable options we could find, and it can also connect to up to 2 different Bluetooth capable devices at a time. It does need to be charged, which can be done in the car while it is connected or by whatever preferred method you choose. That’s pretty neat because some other adapters require you to charge them in the car only while simultaneously being used. The Mpow costs just under $17 on Amazon.
If your price range is a bit higher than that, then you might want to look into the “Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit”. In terms of design, it’s pretty nice. The Kinivo does need to be plugged into both the aux and charging port in your vehicle, but does not hog the entire charging port because it comes with a built-in USB port, that will also provide juice to your phone or music-player. One other cool design aspect of this adapter is that it will mount to whatever surface you choose, so it is most easily accessible for you. The Kinivo Bluetooth Hands-free Car Kit costs just under $35 on Amazon.
If you’re going to be feeding this from your smartphone, however, let us ask the obvious question: Why not use a direct cable from the smartphone’s headphone jack?
In many cases, Bluetooth audio (depending on the specific Bluetooth revision and the devices involved) is compressed and causes a drop in audio quality. A cable from the headphone jack would not have this problem. And it’s less expensive, too!