My invisible friend, bluetooth enabled cars rock

When getting new cars for the family, I had a checklist of features that had to be on both vehicles.  Being a tech freak, the following were what I considered standard features:

  • Navigation
  • Homelink
  • AUX input
  • Backup camera
  • Dual exhaust (the kid in me)
  • Subwoofer (the punk in me)
  • Keyless entry and start
  • Power tailgate
  • All wheel drive
  • 7 second 0-60 time (driving a minivan for so long, this is realistically fast for me)

The Mazda and the Mercedes we ended up purchasing had all the above but both also came with extra features that I did not consider, bluetooth audio and handsfree talk.  That last feature has made my commutes pleasant again.

There was a time when my wife and I use to commute together.  It made the 30+ minute commute fly by as we talked about work, family and just silly stuff that couples talk about.  My wife accepted a better paying job that was closer to home, which unfortunately left me alone on my commutes.  To keep us connected, we tried wired headsets which worked ok but felt cumbersome.  We tried bluetooth headsets which were frustrating to hear, had to be constantly charged, and often left behind.  Our commutes to our respective jobs were lonely times until we got our Mazda and the Mercedes.

Connecting our iPhones was a snap.  Just set the iPhones to discover mode in the bluetooth settings and on each respective vehichle, select the add new bluetooth device.  You will be prompted to enter the displayed number pin on your phone and once that was done, your phone features are available from the steering wheel.  There was an interesting quirk on the Mercedes.  The Mercedes and the iPhone’s address book did not play well together.  The Mercedes likes vcards and thus will only import addresses in that format.  No app I could find allow for a seamless addition of the contacts to the car.  You could export your contacts to a PCMCIA card but that seemed like a serious step backwards with the integration.  I ended up porting only a few addresses that my wife uses regularly to the address book through manual entry.  If someone out there found a cost free solution to connect an iPhone with a GLK350, I’m all ears.

With our phones linked, my wife and I can converse as if we are in the same car.  No need to fumble around with a headset, or navigating around dangling cords.  Her voice is clear and crisp and I do not have to speak at a higher volume in response.  The ability to add voice tags to quick dial contacts further enhances the experience. The cherry on top? The ability to stream Spotify or Pandora or any audio app from the phone to the car’s sound system negates the need for XM or radio all without taking the device out of my pocket. The transparency of the integration is fantastic.  It is only when I see people in other cars pass with their phone held to their ear do I realize how practical this technology is and how it should become standard equipment along with the back-up camera.

It will be a long time before we buy another set of new cars but when that day arrive, add bluetooth connectivity or whatever the wireless standards has progressed to be as a required feature for the new wheels.  Anything less would be uncivilized.

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