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Bluetooth iO module
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mikealder
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:52 pm    Post subject: Bluetooth iO module Reply with quote

So what’s this got to do with GPS I hear you ask, well some of you might remember the TomTom Bluetooth Car Connect accessory that was mysteriously dropped before it was ever released, but this unit offers greater potential than I ever remember reading about on the adverts for the TT unit.
This device can be used for hands free via Bluetooth for voice calls to/ from your mobile phone, the audio is routed through the car speakers. In addition it offers support to the A2DP Bluetooth profile which is employed for stereo audio playback. Now for the “connection” with the GPS industry, this device is so easy to pair and connect to any of the TomTom Go range (x10. x20. x30 and x40) the audio quality is far better than FM Tx and far less messy than a wired connection, less spaghetti strewn all over the inside of the car is always a step in the right direction.



Nicely packaged box, once open all the contents are revealed, the two orange boxes are the Bluetooth module and the four channel 15 Watt amplifier unit, a few cables are supplied that go between the boxes and the car head unit. The easy connection to the car deck is via ISO plugs, if your car deck doesn’t have these connectors then adaptors should be available to suit most factory installed equipment. An external microphone is supplied which has a rather long 3 meter cable which is great – too often microphone cables are too short – its easier to hide excess cable than have to purchase extension leads.



The only part you can see when in use is the small control unit, everything else gets buried behind the dashboard of the vehicle.



All cabled up and ready to go, this will give you an idea of how much cable and kit needs to be hidden behind the dash, if space is tight you might have some fun with this, but the two main orange boxes can be located in the glove box if required due to the generous length of interconnecting cable to the first unit.



For the Volvo I have had to purchase adaptor cables to the ISO plugs needed, it would have been possible to chop the plugs off and rewire the car with the correct connectors, but this takes considerable time so I took the easy option (Halfords).



Both Orange boxes are now hidden in the rather cavernous void behind where the stereo fits.



The next job is to hide all the cables back in the dash without impeding the fitment and security of the stereo.



All done, the little control unit is secured to the vehicle with some self adhesive tape (supplied with the kit), to degrease the surface prior to attachment I use those hand towels you get with a certain brand of Deep Fried Chicken from an American state.



In use:

I have the TomTom 940 connected to the device using the A2DP connection for the HiFi sound output, the instructions are still routed via the internal speaker on the navigation device. Doing this allows the unit to be set not to pause the music while playing navigation instructions. At the same time the TomTom is connected the iPhone is connected for the Hands Free mode this package offers. If the phone rings and you answer it the audio from the phone is routed through the car speakers, the HiFi output from the TomTom is muted.
Pairing the device to both the TomTom and the phone is very easy, and subsequent connections between the hardware have never failed (unlike the TomTom connection to the car stereo via Bluetooth which has a 50% chance of working).

So why is this device so clever and of interest to those of use using GPS devices?

Well if you want the quality that Bluetooth Audio (HiFi/ A2DP) offers but don’t want to invest in a new stereo, and also desire a hands free kit that works without any problems feeding the audio signal through the car speakers then this product is worth considering. I have tried it with the 720, 930 and 940 as well as a number of different phones, it can store up to 5 different devices in its memory which is also handy for users of multiple devices. These units can be found for sale on the internet for around £70 although the RRP is £107 - Mike

Edit to add the following additional information:

iO-BTAPOD iPhone/ iPod Stereo Bluetooth Adaptor

With the recent release of OS3 for the iPhone this accessory isn’t quite as handy as it used to be. Whilst it might be slightly depreciated it still offers additional capability as even the latest iPhone from Apple doesn’t sport Bluetooth AVRCP protocol.

Lets take a quick look at what these fancy abbreviations actually mean:

AVRCP = Audio/ Video Remote Control Profile. So if your car stereo/ headphones or any other audio device offers Bluetooth with controls for next/ previous track, volume up/ down etc this gadget adds this capability to the iPhone/ iPod Touch.

A2DP = Advanced Audio Distribution Profile. This lets you stream music/ audio from the phone to your Bluetooth equipped car stereo/ headphones etc – No interference and offers great sound quality.



Simply plug the accessory in to the dock connector on the phone and the blue LED will start to flash indicating it is looking for a connection. The particular unit I have draws power from the phone and provides no method to charge the hardware while its in use. A better approach is the sister product iO-BTAPODC which is supplied with a car charger cable and can accept power via its own mini-USB socket thus charging the phone while in use.



A downside to this accessory is that once fitted to the phone it won’t fit in to a Brodit active car holder, the lack of a method to connect an external power lead also lets it down. If you are considering one of these units pay the small extra amount for the one with the car charger as this would be more viable on a long trip.

With OS3 now offering Turn By Turn Navigation software support AVRCP is actually something that (to me) is clearly missing from the iPhone. Once you start a navigation application you cannot skip/ select audio tracks, with this accessory fitted you can still control the music while navigating assuming of course you have the iO-Play module to control it.

It also works with iPod Touch units where it again adds A2DP/ AVRCP, as users of the iPod Touch have to pay for OS3 this provides an alternate solution for those wanting Bluetooth audio support without updating their device - Mike


Last edited by mikealder on Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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AndyVaughan
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent review Mike.

I can vouch that the hands free quality is very good - I couldn't tell you were on a hands free - no echoing or background noise.

Given that handsfree on the TT is flakey this provides a reasonably cheap alternative, along with the benefit of the A2DP support.

Is the audio quality through the iO Play any different from the audio quality streaming directly to the head unit?

What happens if you are streaming audio from the TT just for navigation instructions - does the iO Play switch back to the head unit output in between instructions (detects silence and then switches back)?

I see the iO play supports AVRCP - does this work with the TT? My head unit supports AVRCP but cannot control the TT. It works fine with my Nokia phone though.

Perhaps the author of the hififix can be persuaded to build AVRCP support in seeing as TT don't seem to be bothered that it doesn't work.

Were did you find it for £70 - I can only seem to find it for about £80?

Andy
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mikealder
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndyVaughan wrote:
Is the audio quality through the iO Play any different from the audio quality streaming directly to the head unit?

The quality is just as good as when playing through the bluetooth car deck, what is better though is the volume - its much louder, I used to hit 100% volume with audio from the TT, with the iO Pay I don't need it anywhere 100% and it hurts the ears! The device uses its own 60W amplifier that is supplied with the kit.

AndyVaughan wrote:
What happens if you are streaming audio from the TT just for navigation instructions - does the iO Play switch back to the head unit output in between instructions (detects silence and then switches back)?

If you use it for just thew Nav Instructions thats all you will get, nav instructions followed by silence no hiss or back ground noise.

AndyVaughan wrote:
I see the iO play supports AVRCP - does this work with the TT? My head unit supports AVRCP but cannot control the TT. It works fine with my Nokia phone though.

The TT doesn't support AVRCP AFAIK so its small wonder it doesn't work, the iO Play can control the iPhone and one of my other phones for volume and next track/ previous track etc.

AndyVaughan wrote:
Were did you find it for £70 - I can only seem to find it for about £80?

It doesn't take too long to find it even cheaper than I paid for it Crying or Very sad - try This for example - Mike
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mikealder
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mikealder wrote:
AndyVaughan wrote:
What happens if you are streaming audio from the TT just for navigation instructions - does the iO Play switch back to the head unit output in between instructions (detects silence and then switches back)?

If you use it for just thew Nav Instructions thats all you will get, nav instructions followed by silence no hiss or back ground noise.


Sorry Andy my bad Embarassed if I had turned the car radio volume up from 0% I would have heard the radio sound kick back in after the device has issued a navigation instruction, having just tried this again with the radio turned up it does indeed allow you to listen to the radio and get spoken alerts/ instructions via Bluetooth through the car speakers. Receive or make a phone call and the phone audio takes over the output so you hear no nav instructions - Mike
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Darren
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And that final snippet is enough justification for me to go grab one of these babys!
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AndyVaughan
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is useful - the ability to have Nav instructions via the stereo that interrupt the music.

Very tempted as need a decent hands free setup and the TT doesn't cut the mustard.

Andy
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PaulB2005
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So do i have this correct? With one of these i could

- Have all my calls hands-free through the car speakers with or without my TT 740 on?
- Have the instructions from the TT 740 played through the speakers interrupting the radio or CD i am listening to?
- If i get a "proper" iPod (only have Shuffle at the minute) and i connect the iPod to the TT 740 via the Active Dock (radio has no AUX) i can play the iPod over the car speakers via the TT, control it via the TT and have the voice instruction over the car speakers interrupting the iPod AND have Hands-free calls too?

All for ~£60 (not inc any necessary ISO cables and iPod cables?)

Shocked
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mikealder
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulB2005 wrote:
Have all my calls hands-free through the car speakers with or without my TT 740 on?


Yes, the device works with the phone and doesn't need the TomTom for handsfree work.

PaulB2005 wrote:
Have the instructions from the TT 740 played through the speakers interrupting the radio or CD i am listening to?


Yes, this is exactly how it works, when the nav instruction ends there is a two or three second pause before the device releases control back to the car stereo.

PaulB2005 wrote:
If i get a "proper" iPod (only have Shuffle at the minute) and i connect the iPod to the TT 740 via the Active Dock (radio has no AUX) i can play the iPod over the car speakers via the TT, control it via the TT and have the voice instruction over the car speakers interrupting the iPod AND have Hands-free calls too?


Having just been out to try this I think I might have found a bug in the TT, if you connect the iPOD to the omTom and stream music to the iO Play unit you get the music from the iPOD through the car deck, the sound is then interupted for the nav instructions but after the two second pause it switches back to the radio Crying or Very sad - I will have to ask TT about this as I would have expected the unit to continue with iPOD audio out via Bluetooth but it doesn't.
There are other iPOD accessorys you can get to let them stream A2DP music directly to the iO Play without needing the special lead and TomTom in the loop - Mike
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PaulB2005
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grrrr.... Well i can forget the iPod for now but the phone and TT through the speakers has sold me.....
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AndyVaughan
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You talked me in to it Mike - just ordered one from ebay for £70 inc the ipod BT adapter.

The fact that I can still play mp3's etc through the stereo via usb and then have the nav instructions interrupt sold it for me! - plus I need a good quality hands free with a remote mic.

Andy
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MaFt
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndyVaughan wrote:
You talked me in to it Mike - just ordered one from ebay for £70 inc the ipod BT adapter


any links? i'm liking the sound of this, particularly when used with a BT ipod adaptor...!

few more questions though...:

how many devices can connect to it at any one time? eg my phone, my ipod (via bluetooth adaptor mentioned above) AND tomtom 520? is it possible to choose priority of devices?

i would mainly use it for the ipod and handsfree on phone as i don't always use the tomtom.

MaFt
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PaulB2005
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
how many devices can connect to it at any one time? eg my phone, my iPod (via bluetooth adaptor mentioned above) AND TomTom 520?


5

Quote:
is it possible to choose priority of devices?


From looking at the way it works i can't see you need to. The phone will override everything, the mp3 player will override your stereo (although you can manually switch between the 2) and the TomTom will kick in when it needs to...

Anyone know any reputable online retailers stocking this at a decent price ~£80 that is not eBay?

I've also noticed a lot of online retailers are stating it comes with the BT Dongle for the iPod / iPhone. However many reviews show it doesn't come this and it is a separate item.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MaFt wrote:
how many devices can connect to it at any one time? eg my phone, my ipod (via bluetooth adaptor mentioned above) AND tomtom 520? is it possible to choose priority of devices?

Only two devices can be connected at any single point in time, one using the Hands Free Profile for your phone, the other using the A2DP or stereo HiFi over Bluetooth profile that is available from the iOPlay.

You can save upto five different devices paired to the unit but only two can be used at any single point in time, this can be handy for a one car multiple users scenario, you can store your phone settings and the wifes phone. Whoever gets in the car first will have the handsfree connection - if you are both in the same car at the same time only one of you would have handsfree via the device.

The iPOD is best cabled to the TomTom but for now the Bluetooth output for iPOD from the TT units isn't working correctly, I guess a Navcore update will fix this at some future point - Mike
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PaulB2005
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Only two devices can be connected at any single point in time


Ahh....

Does this mean it's using both modes at the same time? I notice from Page 7 of the manual some of the buttons have 2 uses, one in HFP and the other in A2DP - for example the right button with the red phone on it is a skip forward button in A2DP mode and a Hang Up / Reject Call button but also a Activate Voice Dialling button if held for 2 seconds in HFP.

So would the normal operation be to use the button as a Skip Forward Button for your iPod but if a call came in it would switch to being a Reject Call button (because you can no longer hear the iPod anyway) and if whilst playing an iPod would you just hold the button to start a call or do you have to switch modes / stop the iPod first?
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The iO-Play handles the switching of functions for its own controls, if a call comes in to the car you hear the ring tone and simply answer the call using the green button on the controller, when you have completed the call press the red button and the Bluetooth A2DP is routed back through the speakers from the TomTom or whatever other device you have paired it with.
If you have nothing playing music via the Bluetooth option then the device will revert back to the car radio/ CD or whatever other source it is using - Mike
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