Most new cars now come equipped with Bluetooth support for media devices and phones. But if you have an older car that has an AUX IN port or a cassette deck and want to do a tool free upgrade to add Bluetooth, the Kinivo BTC455 is a great place to start.
The device itself is about 1.5″ diameter puck that’s about 1″ thick. It mounts easily with one of two velcro pads that are included in the packaging. It’s small enough to be tucked away in extra space on or near the center console of the car. The device has two buttons on the side for forward and reverse for music and a big center button. There is one blue/red LED that indicates pairing and other functions. The disc itself has a mic to pick up audio for calls. the power and audio cable on the BTC455 feel a bit thin, though the device itself feels like it should be durable enough. This device will require your car to have an AUX IN plug or if your car has a cassette deck, a cassette adapter can be used to feed the audio in to the system.
Attached to the disc is a wire that splits off at approximately the last 10″ for 3.5mm male audio out and a power adapter that fits the standard 12v car power outlet. The 12v power adapter conveniently has a USB power port for charging USB devices like phones and iPods. The total cable length is rated at around 48″ and included is a 24″ 3.5mm audio cable extension if you require it if your power source is far from your AUX IN.
The main button on the disc serves as play/pause, device pairing and answers/ends calls. I can activate Siri or Google Voice and the two side buttons allow for music control. Sadly the BTC455 does not have caller ID or native voice command features built in. The BTC455 features Bluetooth 4.0 and these profiles: HFP, HSP, A2DP and AVRCP.
With the setup of the BTC455, it was very simple. I applied the velcro pad to the base of the puck and put it in a convenient spot on my center console near the driver side and plugged it into the AUX IN and power outlet in the center armrest console of my Tiguan. I paired both my SGS3 and iPod easily to the BTC455. The BTC455 will automatically go into pairing mode when it is powered up. To pair other devices, hold the center button for ~8 seconds
Music audio running through the unit was fine with no issues, though the skip buttons took some time to respond. Call quality coming through the system was fine, though you may need to ramp up the volume in the car’s audio. The phone takes precedence when a call is being made or received, especially if you have two devices paired to it at the same time. The main selling point for this device for me is the multipoint connectivity, which lets it connect to multiple Bluetooth devices at once. The Kinivo BTC455 sells for $49.99 on Amazon and the previous model, BTC450 sells for $39.99, which sells for $5 more than it’s competition from iClever and MPow. If you have multiple Bluetooth devices that you want connected into your car’s audio, the $20 premium on top of it’s competitors and $10 on top of it’s previous iteration is worth it.
Quality of the product is generally well done. Buttons are well placed and USB plug is included in 12v adapter for phones, which is useful. Lead cable from disc could be thicker as it seems like it will be the biggest issue in long term durability.
Audio quality is good, calls were relatively clear. Music came in smoothly and calls took priority. Multipoint connectivity a big selling point. The BTC455 works with a maximum of two devices at a time. Some improvements in button responsiveness, native voice commands and possible call display would greatly increase value of the product.
Decent value for $50, though competitors with only single point connectivity go for $30. Needs to differentiate itself more than just having multipoint connectivity to command a higher price.
In conclusion, it’s a solid device for those looking for a hands-free multipoint connectivity Bluetooth car kit.