If there’s one thing I love to do besides zoom zoom down the highway in my brand-new Mazda, it’s car dance. I usually use my pre-set radio stations or plug in my iPod to the auxiliary port, but I recently got to test out the Livio Radio Bluetooth Internet Radio Car Kit and my car-dancing reached a whole new level.
The Livio Kit (we’ll call it that for short) is a Bluetooth bridge between your smart phone or media player and your car stereo. It includes two components: a flexible gooseneck power adapter that plugs in to your accessory power socket and a controller/transmitter that snaps easily into the top of the gooseneck. The transmitter has red LED lights that light up when the device is working, conveniently matching my dash lights. The Livio Kit costs $119 retail, or $100 at Amazon, and works with any iPhone 3G, 3GS, or 4, as well as 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-generation iPod touch devices.
Installing the Livio Radio Kit
Installing the Livio Kit was as easy as plugging it into the power socket and plugging in the phone’s docking cord, but my manual shifter made it a little difficult to find a position where I could navigate the transmitter controls easily. I expect you wouldn’t have this problem in an automatic or a larger vehicle. There’s also no dock for a phone to rest comfortably, but my cup holder worked just fine.
The Livio Kit uses an FM transmitter to broadcast music, so you’ll need to turn your radio to an empty station. The Livio Kit also has an app you can download from iTunes. The app is free when you’re using the Livio Kit and has offers access to over 45,000 stations. If you’re not using the kit, you’ll have to pay $4.99 and only have around 300 stations to choose from.
Features of the Livio Kit
If you’d like to tag a song playing from your app, you can hit a Tag button on the transmitter to save for later, share with friends on your social networks, or purchase directly from iTunes. The Scan button option allows you to scan Livio App radio stations that play similar music. You also have the options of listening to Pandora and other Internet radio stations through the device. There are Play, Stop and Phone control buttons and a handy toggle button to auto-scan and help you navigate settings. There is a USB charging port to charge your phone and hands-free Bluetooth calling feature available.
After setting up the Livio Kit, I hit the road for a test drive. The Kit performed well in both neighborhoods and the freeway, but the key to music success is finding an empty FM channel. This is true for any gadget that uses an FM transmitter, but the Livio Kit seemed especially sensitive. I didn’t have any problem with sound, but I followed the instruction manual to turn my phone volume all the way up and control the sound from my car stereo. The Bluetooth calling feature was not my favorite, as I had trouble projecting my voice with the hidden microphone in the transmitter being so far away.
Overall, I really enjoyed road-testing the Livio Kit. It’s a great music bridge between your smartphone and your car stereo, especially if you’re like me and don’t have an integrated satellite radio or USB in-dash port. I love having access to the Livio Kit app, with so many listening possibilities. which made up for my issues with the less-than-stellar Bluetooth quality. I promise you’ll be car dancing and singing along to The Beatles in no time.