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HTC StereoClip provides wireless audio for those without Bluetooth automobiles (review)

I enjoy listening to podcasts and music in my car, but don't have Bluetooth and am tired of having a cable lying around and limiting where I can rest my smartphone. HTC has a slick accessory for audiophiles, but it is priced about twice as much as it should be.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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1 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC StereoClip retail package

I spent a couple days meeting with HTC last fall in New York and a couple weeks after that meeting they sent along one of their HTC StereoClip accessories to test out. I finally had a chance to test out the StereoClip in my truck and have been enjoying podcasts and music from several smartphones over the past couple of weeks.

Many new vehicles have integrated Bluetooth radios so you can enjoy music, podcasts, and calls wirelessly. However, there are still millions of us with older vehicles that do not have Bluetooth and yet do not have cassette players for those adapters either. My 2007 Dodge Ram truck has a 3.5mm auxiliary port and in the past I have connected my smartphones via cable to enjoy podcasts and music. However, it is not the "cleanest" solution and my phone often ends up sliding around the seat or console area or I have to prop open my console storage compartment as my phone rests in there to charge while a cable connects it to my stereo. The HTC StereoClip is a small Bluetooth adapter that plugs directly into your 3.5mm audio jack (in your car or home stereo system) and provides Bluetooth connectivity to these older audio systems.

In the past I used Nokia devices with FM transmitters to listen to podcasts in the car, but it was always tough to find a station that was clear enough to provide decent audio quality. The benefit here is that no station has to be found and you simply switch to auxiliary mode and enjoy the audio from your smartphone. The HTC StereoClip is a small device, the same size as many USB thumb drives, that comes with a cap that protects the 3.5mm male end. The cap has an opening so you can store it on your keychain, but I just take it off and put it in my center console compartment.

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Package contents of the HTC StereoClip

The HTC StereoClip charges up via standard microUSB (a cable is included too) and it last me at least a week since I listen to podcasts and audio for about 30 minutes a day in the car. The stated playback time is 5 hours and that seems about right. Standby time is advertised at 120 hours. There is a small indicator light on the end next to the microUSB port that shows you the status of the device. It uses green lights for telling you it is on and when it is in pairing mode. The light blinks red when it needs a charge and glows red for a second when you press and hold the control button to turn it off. The control button is used to turn it on and off and enable pairing mode.

It was simple to setup and pair the HTC StereoClip with several HTC and non-HTC smartphones and all you need is Bluetooth to connect. The StereoClip features Bluetooth 2.1+EDR with the aptX codec for even higher quality audio output. I used it with an HTC Droid DNA, HTC 8X, Nokia Lumia 920, and Samsung Galaxy Note II. If you have a selected HTC device with the HTC Car app (the Droid DNA does not have this for some reason), then you can even setup your phone to auto-pair with the StereoClip.

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3 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

3.5mm connector

Audio sounded fantastic with the HTC StereoClip, advertised as CD quality, and MUCH better than when I used to use a FM transmitter. The device is rather expensive at $60, but it is quite convenient for me as I can now place my smartphone inside my console where the USB charging station is located and then play audio without a wire running around the vehicle and getting in the way. This accessory is pretty simple and really should be priced at around $30 to make it a must have. I see it is available on Amazon and Best Buy and am surprised the price hasn't yet dropped since it has been around now since last summer.

Like many of these HTC accessories, such as the HTC Media Link HD, HTC fails to even have it up on their site. They release these handy accessories and then rely upon 3rd party retailers or carriers to sell the accessories. HTC should at least have links from their site to retailers. If you go to the HTC accessory site you can see a photo of the HTC StereoClip in the car accessory section, yet when you click the link to Shop Now it doesn't appear anywhere. It is details like this that frustrate me and may have an effect on their success.

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microUSB port for charging the StereoClip

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5 of 5 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Enjoying audio from the HTC 8x in my Dodge truck

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