Check before you buy--car, or phone
The question is a common one--how can you, the car shopper and owner, make sure the Bluetooth connection in your car and in your phone actually work together? It's become more important recently for new-car buyers, now that states like New York and California are banning the use of any hand-held phones.
Some tips on Bluetooth to follow before you buy or change phones--and cars:
Do a compatibility check. Make sure phone and car work together before you buy, if you can. Take your phone to the dealer; if the phone doesn't work and you're willing to change, you might strike a bargain with the salesman to include the price of a new phone.
Check your phone manufacturer's Web site before you upgrade. Smartphones are particularly complex to associate with any given car audio/information system. So before you spend $500 on the latest 4G device that cooks dinner and has three keyboards (hard, virtual and telepathic), look it up. The Bluetooth Consortium has an excellent Web page full of resources, should you fail to find info from the eBay link where you bought your unlocked bandit device.
Check back with the car company periodically, as they may update the firmware for the car's Bluetooth device.
Reboot your phone before you connect--and make sure you delete old connections in the car and in the phone. This is a common problem among car writers--we get into cars that have been paired with multiple phones. As a practice, I delete all the old setups when I pair my iPhone 3GS--and delete my own info before I return the car.
Finally, if all else fails, and you're happy with both your cell phone and your new vehicle, get a Bluetooth speaker that clips on a car visor. It's not a high-end solution, but devices from Parrot USA and other companies work well enough for $100, or less.
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