Review: CoolStream Car Chat Plus BTR103 – Bluetooth enabled car charger hands free and streaming device

Guess what Santa (and one of his providers of gadgets Exeter Science & Entertainment) had in store for me for this Christmas? A new add-on for my car, the just released CoolStream Car Chat Plus (model BTR103). In case you are wondering what it does, it is a combo Bluetooth Music Receiver and hands free calling device augmented with the capability of charging two devices at once thanks to its two USB ports each of them capable to crank up to 2.5 Amps. Useful? You bet! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we recently put this little device trough the tests to see how well it performs on the road. Read ahead for the full review.

P1100365

What’s in the Box

CoolStream Car Chat Plus follows the tradition set by the manufacturer of delivering compact and economical boxes which I love. Beside the Car Chat Plus itself, you’ll find a surprisingly detailed operating manual and one micro USB cable for charging your phone.

 

Design and Functionality

car-chat-diagram1

Design wise, the CoolStream Car Chat Plus looks pretty much like a regular car charger with several additions. Beside the two USB ports, you’ll find the cable for the car AUX jack (the way the sound goes to your car stereo). On one larger side there is the Play/Pause Call Receive button, while on the narrow side you’ll find the Track Forward/ Volume Up and Track Back / Volume Down button. A microphone is also included and enables the hands free calling feature. The device itself is fairly light but the power contacts are sturdy and well designed which is certainly a positive thing. In my experience, those are the first to fail after multiple uses.

P1100371

CoolStream Car Chat Plus User Manual can be found here.

 

Technical Specifications

  • Bluetooth 4.0 receiver + EDR with APTx Sound Enhancement.
  • Bluetooth Profiles: HSP, HFP, A2DP and AVRCP.
  • Bluetooth music streaming with Multipoint Technology for connecting to 2 mobile devices simultaneously.
  • Built in microphone for Hands-free calling.
  • Plugs into car power outlet  (Lighter Socket).
  • Connects to speakers through Car Aux Jack (looks like a standard 3.5 mm headphone Jack).
  • USB Output Power is 5V. Two 2.5 Amp USB Ports for quickly charging your mobile devices.
  • Compatible with iPhone 6 and all earlier iPhone models as well as Android Phones and Tablets.
  • Bluetooth range up to 30 feet.
  • Auxiliary cable supports analogue audio out.
  • Power supply is DC 12V/ DC 24V car power outlet (Lighter Socket).
  • No battery is contained in this device.

Testing

P1100415

When testing such a device, I am interested in several different aspects: Easy to use, quality and reliability. I will not really go in much detail about how to pair it or use it because this is described in great detail on the product’s web page. Suffice to say that upon powering the device, it enters automatically in pairing mode. The first time you’ll do it, you’ll have wait for the red LED light to flash then turn on the Bluetooth on your Phone/Tablet. After you scan for Bluetooth devices it will find the “CoolStream Car” which you’ll choose to connect. No PIN required and the successfully pairing is indicated by the same LED flashing blue this time. Pairing the second device is equally easy, turn off the Bluetooth on the first device, turn on Bluetooth on the second device, search and pair.

P1100375

Answering a phone call is equally simple, when your phone rings just press Call/Play Button button to take the call. My Power/AUX ports (conveniently located in the same place on my Honda Odyssey) are close to the car’s floor and as far as possible from my head, but the microphone proved to be sensitive enough to pick up my voice while talking in a normal voice. Be aware that it will pick up any other conversation in your car as well.

Conclusion

All in all, the CoolStream Car Chat Plus is a perfect little device. It does what is says it does and quite well. The sound quality is excellent, the Bluetooth Multipoint technology is immensely useful because both me and my wife can pair our phones at the same time. The microphone is sensitive enough even from  a somewhat hidden place in my Honda Odyssey. The only feature I could wish, especially for the older cars that don’t have an AUX port is a FM transmitter. Based on our extensive use, this SWISS Army knife of car adapters comes highly recommended! Available for sale at Amazon for $35.99.

Pros

  • All in one, several features in one small device
  • rather cheap
  • Auto-pairing initiated when you start the car
  • Dual powerful 2.5A USB ports – not many chargers offering this amount of power
  • Bluetooth MultiPoint technology allows pairing two devices at the same time.

Cons

  • Not a cons, more like a wishful thinking – an USB port for memory sticks for media playback and a FM transmitter for cars that don’t have an AUX port.

Gallery