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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Kinivo BTC450 review:

Add hands-free calling, wireless music to cars

The Kinivo BTC450 lacks any native voice command features or a caller ID display.

Easy pairing
Testing the Kinivo BTC450 with an iPhone 5, the initial Bluetooth pairing went off without a hitch. I had to hold the main button down to put the device into pairing mode, then simply found it under the name BTC450 on the phone's list of found Bluetooth devices.

I was pleased that the Kinivo BTC450 automatically reestablished the Bluetooth connection when the phone was in range. As such, when I got into a car equipped with the device, music would begin streaming to the stereo automatically, starting from the track that was playing when I was last in the car.

The skip buttons worked as expected, with a just a slight delay typical of sending commands over Bluetooth.

The music playback sounded fine, with no interference from the Kinivo BTC450. In addition, there were no stutters or gaps in the stream, which can sometimes happen with Bluetooth streaming audio.

Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth car kit
The small size of the Kinivo BTC450 makes it easy to mount in a car. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

I was able to activate Siri through the device as well, the microphone picking up my commands for music playback or placing calls and accurately sending them to the phone. With a phone call initiated, the microphone performed well in picking up my voice. However, it also picked up cabin noise, as any microphone would.

Listening to the other party on a call, the sound came through the car's speakers unhindered or otherwise not degraded by the Kinivo BTC450. In fact, I have never found the iPhone to work particularly well as a handset, so I actually preferred using the Kinivo BTC450 in a car for calls.

Short on features
The Kinivo BTC450's chassis makes it easy and practical to install in a car, and the 12-volt plug with built-in USB charging port is a nice addition, as is the ability to skip songs. Considering the lack of an internal battery, however, an off switch would have been nice so as to ensure that it does not become a drain on a car's battery.

The device performed well for both phone calls and streaming music.

A built-in FM transmitter would make the Kinivo BTC450 useful in more cars, as only a limited set of models offer an auxiliary input. A display for caller ID and track information would have also been useful.

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