I was using a cassette tape attachment to listen to my iPhone while driving my Volks Jetta. Unfortunately it broke and I was left with a handful of limited options. You can read those car radio options here which is like a part one to this article. I ended up buying the Best Buy Geek Squad universal play and charger iPod Car installation kit. Here’s my review.
What is it?
First of all, what is this kit? Essentially, it’s a bunch of wires that are made to attach to the back of your car radio. For $99 (including installation which takes about an hour), a mechanic will pull out your radio, install the wires and put it back in. They install it as an attachment to the antenna part of the radio. It’s kind of like an iRiver module (which sucks – at least mine did) but is a much, much better.
I made an appointment a few days in advance. When I bought it, the girl at the cash insisted that it will only take 20 minutes but it took the full hour. The guy who installed it said that since I have a Volkwagen, I had to buy 2 extra wires to bridge the custom VW radio to the Geek Squad kit. That set me back $40 in addition to the $99. Also, he said he had some trouble pulling the radio out which could happen to you so watch out. He seemed like a nice guy and said he didn’t want to break the radio so he almost asked me to bring the car to VW to pull the radio out but eventually got it on his own.
Since the sound will come through as though it’s from a radio station, you must set your radio to a particular, unused number. In my case, it was 87.9FM. There is an on/off switch that apparently most people put in the glove compartment. I thought that was dumb and asked them to use an extra spot on my dashboard (see photos). I asked about the space above the radio that looked like a nice spot to have a place to rest the wire and iPhone but the mechanic said that there was no way to use that place.
You are given a few feet worth of wire to connect your phone. I asked my mechanic to leave enough for myself as the driver or someone in the passenger seat to be able to hold it and change songs. There is enough extra wire that lies hanging when you pull your device off of it. I was worried about that encouraging thieves but when they see a wire without anything attached, they’ll know you took it with you so I don’t worry about it. Also, I discussed where the wire would go and the mechanic did a great job of having it discreetly stick out of the lower part of the dashboard (see photo).
I’ve been using it like crazy and love the fact that it charges my phone while I drive. I consider that a great bonus since I use the Google maps gps and that sucks out a lot of battery power. Unfortunately, you can’t use the wire as a USB because the side that sticks out is the side that fits into your iPhone or iPod. The sound itself is excellent. I’m finding that you don’t even have to open or close the switch every time you get out of the car. Just make sure you take your device with you so no one breaks in and steals it. The sound is excellent and I’ve been listening to radio stations from around the world (via apps) and my regular iTune music library.
If you’re considering buying it, go for it. It’s really not expensive, adds value to your car, and most importantly, you’ll experience a whole new world of music and range of radio stations in your car.