How to add Bluetooth audio to your car for under $20

bluetooth-logoIf you are like me, you like listening to content from your phone or MP3 player in your car while traveling. If you don’t have built-in Bluetooth in your car, there are several options for adding it. You can use a cassette adapter (if your car has a cassette deck), an 8mm audio cable (basically a headphone jack, if your car supports it), you can listen through an FM transmitter, or you can listen straight through the device if your device has decent speakers.

In my car I have an audio jack. This method works great, but I hate have to use the cable to go from my phone to the jack. It just gets in the way of everything.

I am happy to report there is another solution for those of us with an audio jack in the car that can be purchased for under $20: the Zehui Wireless Car Bluetooth Music Receiver. It’s a small Bluetooth receiver that plugs into the audio jack (yes, your device has to have Bluetooth for this to work). These devices play the audio from your phone or music player through your car speakers without being hindered by a cable!

I am guessing this is a generic product because Amazon carries several items under different brand names with identical pictures, so I just settled on the cheapest one. There are other name brands that are more money and look different, but I figured I’d try the cheaper route first.

Image screenshot from Amazon.com product listing
Image screenshot from Amazon.com product listing

Surprisingly, this little device works great! It is a little tricky to figure out how it works, especially since the instructions were awful, but once I got it going it is a great addition to my car. Best of all it has a very small footprint. It is about 1″ x 2″ and just sticks right out of the jack in my car. I turn it on when I want to use it and it connects right to my iPhone. The sound quality is great and I can control the volume through the phone or the car. The battery life is at least eight hours.

My family recently took a vacation which involved three hours in the car each direction. My son sat in the back watching the iPad and listening through the car speakers. No more annoying cable from the iPad to the front of the car.

Like I said earlier, there are other brands for more money, but why spend it if you don’t have to? This little device is a great addition to any car with an audio jack. If you have an audio jack in your car and a bluetooth capable device I highly recommend checking out a Bluetooth audio receiver for your vehicle. You’ll be happy you did.

How to use a wireless Bluetooth keyboard with an Apple TV

The Apple TV

With the latest Apple TV software update, Apple added the capability to use a Bluetooth keyboard with the Apple TV. Why would you want to use a keyboard with the Apple TV? Well, it makes it a lot faster and easier to type in search fields when using the YouTube app and the few others that require typing when compared to stumbling through with the Apple Remote. You can also use the arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate through the Apple TV.

How to add a Bluetooth keyboard to your Apple TV

Setting up the keyboard is really easy to do.

  1. Make sure the keyboard is turned on and in pairing mode
  2. Navigate to Settings on your Apple TV
  3. Choose “General”, then choose “Bluetooth”, then the Apple TV will automatically search for your keyboard
  4. Choose the keyboard and the Apple TV will give you a code to type into the keyboard
  5. Enter the code, then the keyboard will be paired with the Apple TV and you are ready to go

Any Bluetooth keyboard should work with your Apple TV. I discovered that a keyboard made for the iPad, like one that might come with an iPad keyboard case combination, is a great solution. These keyboards usually have extra keys for iPad functionality. One of these keys might be a Home button to exit apps on the iPad. Well, that same button will navigate you backwards through the Apple TV like the “Menu” button on the Apple TV remote. This is a very handy feature. These keyboards are also smaller and harder to type on, but it is not like you are typing a full thesis on the Apple TV (unless Apple decides to allow apps one day, but that is wishful thinking for now).

The only downside to using the keyboard with the Apple TV is that you have to make sure it is constantly charged. If your keyboard using regular batteries you’ll probably get more life out of it than a rechargeable model. You also need a place to keep the keyboard. On the plus side the keyboard is a lot easier to keep track of then that little “silver stick”, as we call the remote in my house.

Overall, a keyboard with the Apple TV is a great combination. It may not be something you want to run out and spend a bunch of money on, but if you have an extra Bluetooth keyboard or can find a cheap one someplace it might be worth your while to try it out.

5 Easy Ways To Geek Out Your Vehicle

A vehicle is one of the most important assets we have. It gets us to all the vital places that we need to go, like to work and to the grocery store. The time spent in our cars can really add up, so why not make those commutes more enjoyable by adding a few bells and whistles that would make any fellow geek jealous?

Add USB Ports

It’s a shame that the auto industry hasn’t caught up to modern times yet as far as power sources go. I mean, we’re still using cigarette lighters as a power source. How ridiculous is that?

By spending as little as a few bucks, you can be charging your devices the modern way by equipping USB ports inside your vehicle. USB car adapters are available pretty much anywhere. I bought this one on Amazon and while it costs about $20, knowing that it’s made by a quality manufacturer ensures that I won’t get that annoying whining noise that comes with cheaper, lesser-quality car adapters. It also pumps out 2 amps to charge larger devices like an iPad (a feature that many USB car chargers lack).

Add Bluetooth

Image Credit: Crutchfield

Not only is equipping your car with Bluetooth a pretty geeky thing to do, but it can also be a literal life-saver when you’re on the road. Having your hands free while chatting with someone on the phone is both a convenience and a safety precaution.

A lot of newer vehicles have Bluetooth built right into the factory stereo system by default, but if you own an older vehicle that doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can still take advantage of the feature by installing either a universal kit or a stereo-specific adapter. Universal kits are merely just Bluetooth speaker boxes that you can place anywhere in your car, like these.

Stereo-specific Bluetooth kits are generally more expensive, but it allows you to use your factory stereo and speakers to talk on your phone without the need for an extra speaker box. Of course, there’s always the option of going the headset route if you don’t mind things sticking to your ear during the car ride.

Make Your Stereo MP3 Player-Compatible

Image Credit: Truck Trend

Newer vehicles nowadays have an auxiliary (AUX) input built right into the factory stereo, allowing you to easily connect an MP3 player and start rocking out. However, older vehicles don’t have this. If you’re one of those with an older vehicle, you might try looking to see if the back of your factory head unit has red and white RCA female ports and if so, you can easily plug in a RCA-to-3.5mm cable and route it through the glove box and into the interior.

If you have a cassette tape deck, you can use a cassette-to-3.5mm adapter. If both of these options are not available, you’re only choice (without using the awful FM transmitter) is to buy an aftermarket head unit with a built-in AUX input that sell for as little as $60.

Hook Up A Dedicated MP3 Player

Using your smartphone as an MP3 player can be really nice at times, but it can also be a pain in the rear end to bust it out and plug it into your stereo every time you want to listen to music in the car. Not to mention whenever you get a call, you have to reach over and unplug it. That’s why I just ended up getting a cheap, dedicated MP3 player to leave in my car that’s always plugged in and ready to go. That way all I have to do is turn it on and press play. I currently have an old iPod Mini that only cost me $25, so if it happens to get stolen, it won’t be too much of a biggie.

Install A Laptop Stand

Image Credit: Instructables

This modification is more aimed at passengers rather than the driver. Putting a laptop stand in your vehicle is an easy way for you to take your laptop on the go and provides passengers great hospitality. You can plug it into your stereo system and blast your music library or watch movies in surround sound on the go!

You can buy a pre-made laptop stand or make your own for cheaper. Since laptops only last a few hours on a charge, it would also be a good idea to get a power inverter that you can plug into your cigarette lighter, like this one.

If you have any other ways to geek out your car, leave them in the comments!