AirWave plays music from phone to car (hands-on)

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May 22, 2013 12:26 AM PDT / Updated: May 22, 2013 9:37 AM PDT

LAS VEGAS -- Cobra Electronics announced on Tuesday that it has launched AirWave, a wireless music receiver that uses Bluetooth technology and costs $39.95.

Though it's not entirely wireless (it still requires either an auxiliary cord or a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable), the device lets you effortlessly connect any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to car stereos, stereo docks, or home audio receivers.

Design
Weighing in at a little over an ounce, the device is extremely lightweight and portable. Its square black body runs just 2.2 by 2.2 inches, and it would have no trouble finding space in your car.

From your glove compartment to your cup holder, the AirWave can operate pretty much anywhere in your car so long as you can maneuver around a cord to connect it with.

However, compared to something like the Belkin receiver , the AirWave does look and feel a little cheap given its less-than-luxurious build material. But, its simple design remains generally appealing.

Cobra AirWave
Measuring just a little over 2 by 2 inches, the AirWave is light and compact. Lynn La/CNET

The middle part of the AirWave is slightly smaller than its top and bottom, making it easy to wrap cords around its body for tidier storage.

Up top is the Bluetooth indicator. If it's blinking blue, that means that it's in pairing mode. You'll know when a pairing is successful when the light stays solid.

Around its edges are a toggle switch that powers the device on and off, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Micro-USB port for charging, and a small reset button. The bottom has rubber padded corners to help the receiver stay put.

Features
The receiver comes packaged with a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm auxiliary cord, an RCA cable, and a Micro-USB charging cord. Maximum range tops out at 33 feet, and its battery has a reported usage- and standby-time of 15 hours and 30 hours, respectively.

Cobra AirWave
The small toggle switch on the edge turns the device on and off. Lynn La/CNET

Outlook
Although the Cobra AirWave isn't the first Bluetooth audio car kit, I was able to see for myself how easy and simple it was to pair with a smartphone. Its lightweight construction makes it ultraportable, and the $39.95 price tag is reasonable.

Unfortunately, with the low price, you won't get other neat features like the ability to take calls, or device reconnecting when you get back into your car. But, if you're looking for an easier way to stream music without tying your handset down, the AirWave is a good place to start.

Check back with CNET for all the news unfolding from this week's CTIA 2013 show.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May. 21, 2013
  • Type Bluetooth Music receiver
  • Connectivity Protocols Bluetooth
  • Functionality Music streaming
About The Author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.