I recently had a chance to play with New Potato’s TuneLink Auto, which is both a product as well as an Android application. The premise is simple in that it allows users to stream their audio throughout a car stereo regardless of whether the dash offers Bluetooth or auxiliary input. The product itself looks much like a car charger for your Android phone, but there’s a lot more going on inside.
Touting the setup as easy as “PLUG IT, PAIR IT, PLAY IT”, I skipped the instructions and went straight into installation. I had previously downloaded the free application from the Android Market so all I needed to do was tell my phone to talk to the device. Right? Yup. That’s basically it. Once my handset recognized the device, it was paired and ready to go. All I had to do at that point was choose which radio station I was going to use. TuneLink broadcasts your audio over an FM transmitter, meaning it plays over those static/out-of-range channels. If you’ve ever used a standalone Sirius/XM unit you will know what I mean.
I ran into a couple of issues with my phone locking up in text and email which I narrowed down to instances where the app was running. At first I was concerned that this would be a problem but an app update the very next day resolved the issue. Speaking of the app, the graphics look sharp and feel intuitive and clutter free. It’s a shame really that you don’t need to use the app very much once you’re paired up.
I like the fact that I can plug in any USB cord and charge my phone while using TuneLink as my car is older and only offers one outlet. Should you have a device that does not offer Bluetooth connection, there is a spot for auxiliary plug-in which I assume will work on any MP3 player or portable game console. One thing that surprised me about the TuneLink was that there was no hum coming from from the port, something I’ve run into with similar systems. Whether plugged in firectly or through Bluetooth, everything sounded great.
Ask my friends and they will tell you how much I despise radio. Sure, satellite is nice but there is still fluff and filler music that has me reaching for the remote. Now, I’m using Slacker Radio and my own personal station in the car wherever I go. TuneLink also works well in cases where you might be waiting in your car and need to catch up on your YouTube channels or whenever your Angry Birds cravings start.
For $100 I am impressed with TuneLink and have recommended it to friends and family. If you have a car that offers neither Bluetooth nor auxiliary input, then this is a handy and inexpensive way of upgrading your stereo. Not to mention it’s small and portable size lets you take it with you when riding in another car.