Friday, November 2, 2012

GOgroove SMARTmini AUX

Spend any significant amount of time sitting in a vehicle and you might discover that terrestrial radio just doesn’t cut it, especially in this day and age of in-car entertainment systems with satellite radio, mp3, audio book, and podcast support. Unfortunately, not everyone has a new car with Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, and touchscreens. There are a number of Bluetooth car kits available but very few at the price point of the GOgroove SMARTmini AUX. I picked one up the other day to use in my pickup truck. Let’s check it out.

The SMARTmini AUX comes in a clear plastic box with a USB charging cord, AUX extension and pedestal, a circle of Velcro, and a user manual. The charging cord has a USB type A connector at one end and a 3.5mm audio plug on the other. I’d prefer a micro USB connector instead of another propriety cable, but the SMARTmini AUX is rather small and shares the 3.5mm jack between charging and line-in. The AUX pedestal is optional and mounts to the vehicle with Velcro. It enables the user to mount the SMARTmini AUX’s microphone closer to the driver to improve call clarity.

I’ve been using the SMARTmini AUX, on and off, for almost a month now. I’m very satisfied with this device, but I do have a few minor complaints. I don’t know if it’s my phone or the SMARTmini AUX, but occasionally when I turn the device on it doesn't automatically connect to my phone. I can go into the Bluetooth settings on my phone and tell it to connect but I never have to do this with my Kinivo Bluetooth Headphones or the Microsoft Sync system in my Ford Focus. Both of those systems connect to my phone automatically when powered up. The other complaint I have is about the light on the SMARTmini AUX. It’s way too bright and blinky for the interior of a vehicle at night. I put a square of blue painter’s tape over it and I can still see the light but it’s not nearly as distracting. Although duct tape and electrical tape are wonders of the modern world, painter’s tape doesn't leave behind nearly as much sticky residue when removed. Minor complaints aside, this device works remarkably well.

The SMARTmini AUX has been working excellent for me. So far, I've used it to listen to audio books, make a few calls, and just a bit of music. The audio quality is fair. Bluetooth stereo is much more about convenience than it is about quality. That said, the device is more than good enough for audio books, but I can see where it wouldn't pass the muster for an audiophile. I’m told that the call quality is clear and intelligible even though it sounds a little distant on the remote end. I assume this is because I don’t use the AUX extension. Instead, I plug it directly into the AUX port on the stereo which is about arm’s length away in my F250. I haven’t pushed the limit of the six hour battery but I've done five hours several times without a hitch. Overall, the GOgroove SMARTmini AUX lives up to my expectations completely. It’s well worth the price and I’d be willing to bet it meets or exceeds some of the higher priced models out there. I could hardly be happier with it.

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