Cobra JoyRide review:

Cobra charger takes charge of Android phones

There are also On Disconnect actions, which largely mirror the On Connect actions, including launching apps and toggling the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth states, but also adds the ability to close the foreground app (useful for stopping navigation or audio playback at the end of a trip) and the option to store an automatic GPS location snapshot for the Car Finder.

The Car Finder function displays your current location and the last location where you disconnected from the JoyRide in your car on a Google map. A satellite imagery overlay can be toggled and a walking route back to your car can be displayed, but this function doesn't do turn-by-turn spoken walking navigation. It would be nice if one could hand this data over to the actual, native Google Maps Android app for turn-by-turn navigation.

The JoyRide app gives the user a variety of options, but usually hides in the background. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Via the app, users can also adjust the charger's LED backlight color if they don't like the default green glow or want to match their ride's dashboard illumination. And, unless you launch the app to make changes, the JoyRide app hides in the background, visible only by a notification icon. Interestingly, although the JoyRide was able to charge our Nexus 7, the app was not compatible with the tablet. All of our testing was done on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

In sum: should you buy it?
For $39.99, the Cobra JoyRide is a bit pricey for a 2.1A car charger, which would typically cost about $10 to $15 online and usually include two powered USB ports for that price. However, a case could be made for the additional cost with the added convenience of the JoyRide's button. If your car's 12-volt charger is located in an easily reachable place on the dashboard, the Cobra JoyRide is an interesting way to eliminate a good deal of fumbling with your phone while driving.

The Cobra JoyRide can simplify your in-car phone experience, but the asking price is a few bucks too high. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Cobra's on-the-box claim that the JoyRide launches a Car Mode when connected is a bit misleading. More precisely, the charger's Cobra button just gives you the ability to quickly switch to your favorite in-car apps. However, it can be set up to trigger the launch of a third-party interface (such as Vlingo InCar or Car Home Ultra) or OEM car mode if you so desire.

If you're in the market for a rapid car charger for your Android phone, the Cobra JoyRide is a compelling option, especially if you can find it on sale nearer to the $30 mark.

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