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HTC One Car Kit brings its sleek design and functionality to the road: Review

T-Mobile USA is giving away the HTC Car Kit with an HTC One purchase, and after spending a couple weeks with it, I find it to be an essential accessory. It works well and is priced right, at just $60.

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Topic: Mobility
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HTC One Car Kit in retail package

I am very pleased with the , and one nice addition that T-Mobile threw in the package was the HTC One Car Kit for free ($59.99 retail value). I've been using the HTC One Car Kit for the last couple of weeks, and wanted to share some thoughts on using it in my vehicle.

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Everything you need to get started

The HTC One Car Kit is designed specifically for the HTC One only, due to the way it slides into the holder so that half of your HTC One is secured on the right side. Inside the package you will find the Car Kit, a long special Car Kit cable, a USB to auto port dongle for charging, and a mounting piece if you don't want to secure the Car Kit to your window.

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Base, arm, and cradle mounted to my window

The Car Kit assembly includes a stout suction cup base, a stainless steel arm that rotates in a ball and socket joint, and the cradle piece attached to the arm. These pieces come all assembled and are not designed to be taken apart.

I like placing my car mounts up in the lower left of my window so my view of the road is unobstructed. With large Dodge truck windows, this is not an issue. I like the way you simply rotate the ring around the bottom of the base to secure the suction mount to your window. It is not going anywhere, even with bumps in the road. You can use the double-sided tap disk that is included to mount the base somewhere else in your vehicle if you do not want to mount it on your window.

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Special charging cable to secure to cradle

The included USB cable has a special end that secures into the cradle piece of the Car Kit. The cable is something like 3 feet long, so I was able to route it straight down from my window and across my dash without it interfering with anything. It is long enough that I could tuck it away in places, too, so it doesn't look hillbilly or anything, either.

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Cable attached

The USB to auto adapter piece is short, so it sits fairly flush with the plug when inserted. You place the USB end into the charger and will see an indicator light when powered on.

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HTC One in the Car Kit

A nice thing about this Car Kit is that you can easily use it in multiple vehicles by removing the suction cup and unplugging the charger. This is important for me, since I travel for business about once a month and use my phone's GPS system for navigation in rental cars.

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Speakers

When you get in your vehicle and insert your HTC One, simply slide it from left to right until it gets to the end; you will see the HTC One power on and launch the HTC Car application (screenshots shown later in this gallery). Both speakers are still fully uncovered, so that great thing in my vehicle without a Bluetooth in-car system is that I can still clearly hear navigation commands and people I am talking with on the phone. I refuse to talk or text while driving, unless I have something like this setup to keep my hands free.

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HTC Car application, powered by Nuance

The HTC Car app gives you an HTC One feel with the clock and weather widget in the upper left and then very large button for shortcuts optimized for the auto experience. These shortcuts include Navigation, Dialer, Music, Speak, People, Internet Radio through TuneIn, Settings, and Exit.

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More HTC Car shortcuts

I like that you can add apps and have changed my experience to include MLB At Bat 2013 and GPS speedometer.

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Speak utility powered by Nuance

You should not use the buttons to dial while driving, but instead use the slick Speak functionality. Speak launches a voice-recognition utility powered by Nuance Communications.

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Choose a radio station

Speak functions include call (name/number), Play (album, artist, song, playlist), Radio toggle, and listen to (speak your station to search). The audio is clear, and this functionality works well.

There are several settings within the HTC Car app to customize your in-car experience, including some auto launch and play settings. Beats Audio can be toggled on or off; I like it on, myself. You can even have your HTC One set to read out notifications and allow voice commands to react to them (reply, listen, call, etc.).

I don't have any vehicles with Bluetooth car kits, but understand that you can link the HTC Car Kit with these to have audio play through your vehicle speakers. With the HTC BoomSound and front-facing stereo speakers, I am pleased with the experience even without an in-car system.

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Car app dialer

The Dialer is different to the default HTC One dialer as well, with recent calls and a large button dialer.

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Navigation utility

After tapping the initial shortcuts, you will see more large button auto-optimized experiences. Within Navigation, you can see buttons for Google Maps, Previous, Appointments, Gas Station, Restaurant, and many more. Tapping these launches Google Maps Navigation, with quick searches for these specific items already initialized.

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Enter a destination

You can enter a destination for the navigation function much like with a dedicated GPS.

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Navigating with Google Maps Navigation

The HTC One uses Google Maps for navigation.

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Car app settings

You can control the app settings from inside the menu.

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More Car app settings

The HTC One Car Kit is available from HTC for $59.99 and if you use your phone for navigation or audio then I think it is worth the price. Thanks to T-Mobile USA, I received mine for free with my HTC One purchase.

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