The coolest piece of tech I’ve seen in a while

I remember back in the day when I was excited to get a tape deck in my car that featured auto-reverse. That gave me a full 90-minutes – two entire album’s worth! – of uninterrupted music. Then came the six-disc, trunk-mounted CD changer. Hours of uninterrupted music that even included a shuffle function so songs from all six – six! – albums would play in random order.

These days, I’ve got my iPhone, which has nearly 3,000 songs stored on it – literally days’ worth of music that I carry in my pocket. All I had to do when I got in the car was plug in a single cable (a Kensington LiquidAUX) that went to the charger, which had a cord that went into the auxiliary input for my car stereo. What could possibly be easier?

When the Kensington cable started becoming unreliable – after three full years of solid service – I found out. I ordered the New Potato TuneLink Auto. It’s similar to the Kensington in several ways. A cord from the unit that plugs into the charger goes straight into the auxiliary input for the car stereo. There’s a USB outlet that will connect to the iPhone dock, but only for charging. For music, the dock cable is completely unnecessary. The TuneLink pairs up with the iPhone via BlueTooth. That’s cool, but pretty unremarkable these days. What makes the TuneLink exceptional is how the free app you install on your phone works in the background. It elevates the TuneLink from cool to pure magic.

When you get in your car and start it, the TuneLink turns on and automatically pairs with your phone. That activates the app, which starts playing music where you left off. You never have to touch the phone. When you turn the car off, the music stops. (Auto Connect and Auto Start can be turned on and off in the app settings.)

The TuneLink app links up to the music app on the iPhone using AirPlay, so you can control the music either through the regular app or through the TuneLink app.

Sound quality is superb. I’m not an audiophile by any means, but I can’t tell any difference between a wired connection and TuneLink’s Bluetooth connection. If you have more sensitive ears, you might be able to hear some of the compression the Bluetooth stereo standard utilizes, but I can’t. By the way, even if you attach the charger to the iPhone, TuneLink still uses Bluetooth to transmit the music.

If your car stereo doesn’t have an auxiliary input, you can still use TuneLink, which also manages to fit an FM transmitter into its tiny package. The settings are controlled through the app, which will recommend the clearest channels available depending on your location. I haven’t tried the transmitter, but I know that even the best FM transmitter won’t match a wired connection. Still, if you don’t have an auxiliary input, this will at least get your music pumping through your stereo – without a single cord.

TuneLink also has an Android version.

TuneLink provides rock solid Bluetooth performance, but its real trick is the capability the app brings to let you enjoy your music when you get in the car without ever taking your iPhone out of your pocket.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *