To me there's nothing sadder than a car that lacks Bluetooth. Well, OK, there are lots of things sadder, but for anyone who drives and owns a smartphone, it's definitely a bummer.
Because without Bluetooth to link the phone to the car stereo, how does one listen to one's playlists? One's podcasts? How does one conduct a hands-free call? One does not! This is how sad that makes me.
Fortunately, you don't have to throw out your car and buy a new one. All you need is an FM transmitter that can act as the go-between. Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Accessory Genie has the GoGroove FlexSmart X3 Compact Bluetooth FM Transmitter for $39.99 shipped when you apply coupon code SAVEX3M at checkout. (Click the Use Coupon Code radio button, then type or paste it in.) It normally sells for $57.99.
I've covered these FlexSmarts before. For the most part, they're awesome, and this is the company's best version yet: compact, cooler-looking, and easier to pair and control. (By "compact," I mean it doesn't have the long gooseneck like previous models -- great for some cars, less great for others. If your cigarette-lighter port is down low or otherwise hard to reach, you might prefer one of those longer versions.)
The X3 pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth, then broadcasts any audio (music, phone calls, etc.) to an unused FM frequency on your car stereo. If you live in or near a big city, it might be tricky to find an unused frequency (though the X3 automatically searches for one, a huge help). Once you do, however, you should enjoy clear, mostly static-free listening. And the unit's built-in microphone allows for hands-free calling, a great perk. There's also a USB port that allows for easy on-the-go charging, and a line-in jack in case you want to connect an MP3 player or some other non-Bluetooth device.
CNET hasn't reviewed the X3, but I tried it here in metro Detroit, and it worked splendidly -- better, in fact, than the X2 I'd been using previously. And after I finished my testing, I gave the X3 to my dad, who's been absolutely delighted with it. (The fact that I haven't had a single call asking for tech support speaks volumes.)
I will note that there are some less-than-flattering user reviews on Amazon, which is odd considering that virtually every other FlexSmart model has much higher ratings. According to a company rep, there was a tiny tech defect with the first batch of X3s (which were sold on Amazon via third-party vendors), but the ones coming directly from Accessory Genie are golden.
At $57.99, the X3 is a little pricey. At $39.99 out the door, it's an affordable way to add Bluetooth to car stereos that lack it -- and way cheaper than a whole new car. Excellent gift item, too.
Bonus deal: If you're using a cloud-based backup solution for your data, that's great. But consider keeping a local, file-based backup on hand as well. All you need is an external or network hard drive and this: Today only, SharewareOnSale has Genie Timeline Professional 2013 (Win) for free. Regular price: $59.95. The utility makes real-time backups of your files and can preserve multiple versions. It's been likened to Apple's Time Machine. Here's a comprehensive review.
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