I know. I know. This might seem like an odd thing to review here but trust me, this little gadget is pretty neat and also very useful for anyone who owns an older vehicle that doesn’t have Bluetooth. What I’m looking at today is by Roidmi and is called the Roidmi 2s, a little device backed by Xiaomi Technologies (better known for thier popular Mi smartphones). The Roidmi 2s may look like an ordinary USB car charger, which it is, but it hides a neat little secret inside. You see, the Roidmi 2s is also a Bluetooth receiver for your smartphone that can convert any car radio into a Bluetooth capable car radio.
It’s no ordinary looking car charger.
One look at the Roidmi 2s and you’ll see that this isn’t an ordinary USB car charger. This is one sleek looking device that looks like no other car charger out there. While conventional chargers feature metal prongs on the side and a metal nub at the bottom, the Roidmi 2s is a solid unit with no moving parts. It’s very well designed with some nice heft to it which leaves me wondering why no one else ever thought of making a charger look like this.
Aside from that, the rest of the Roidmi 2s looks like a standard USB charger with two charging ports on top as well as integrated multicolored LED lights on the inside.
What does it do besides charge?
While the Roidmi 2s makes for a stylish USB car charger, that’s not all it does. It’s actually a Bluetooth receiver for your smartphone that can connect to your car’s radio via a built in FM transmitter. That means that it can turn any car radio, regardless of age or brand, into a Bluetooth capable car radio that can playback any music you have stored on your smartphone. It even has a built in mic so you can make and receive hands-free calls, if your vehicle doesn’t have Bluetooth built in. And since all of this is built into one handy little USB car charger, you won’t need separate devices to do all of this.
Does it work?
Quick and easy answer, yes it does. Though you’ll have to go through some steps first to make it work. For starters, the unit I received is straight from China and a pre-release version as it is currently on Indiegogo awaiting funding. It’s already collected more than its initial goal so there’s no doubt it will be released. It will also see a US release sometime later this year.
The second issue I had was that all the instructions were in Chinese. I managed to figure out that there is a Roidmi Driver app you need to download for your iOS or Android device which luckily has English in it.
The app only serves a few purposes. You use it initially to connect your smartphone to the Roidmi 2s. The other main use for it is to tune the FM transmitter to the proper frequency that works with your vehicle. While there is an auto tune function that is supposed to find the strongest signal you can use that is free, it didn’t quite work as advertised. None of the ones it chose worked very well so a quick search on the Internet found some frequencies I could use in my city that worked best (Miami – 101.1). The other uses for the app include changing of the LED colors on the Roidmi 2s as well as choosing what the default music player will be on your device and whether or not to enable hands-free talk features.
After setting all that up I was finally able to use my smartphone, in this case an HTC 10, as a music player in my vehicle. My device now automatically connects to the Roidmi 2s each time I start my vehicle up and I switch to it via preset radio station button. The music comes in loud and clear though there is a hint of fuzziness sometimes. This is the nature of FM radio, but it still sounds just as good as any other radio station playing music. It’s not quite as good as using a dedicated aux line-in port, but if your goal is to upgrade an existing radio while keeping things wireless, it works surprisingly well.
You can also use the Roidmi 2s as a speakerphone, which I didn’t and to route audio from whatever voice navigation software you use on your phone to your car speakers. In fact, it’ll pick up any audio from your smartphone and route it to your car speakers.
While most of my experience with it so far has been positive, there is one issue that needs to be made aware. The Roidmi 2s doesn’t fit in all vehicles. Because of its straight design, it doesn’t work with the 12V vehicle power socket design, only with circlip type cigarette lighter sockets. My car has the 12V socket which means it wouldn’t work. Luckily I was provided with the Roidmi 1 to 2 cigarette lighter charger adapter which allowed me to use it correctly.
The Roidmi 2s is a pretty good little gadget. Pretty much everyone these days needs a car charger for their smartphones and if your car doesn’t have built in Bluetooth, why not get a car charger that does that too? You’ll get two USB ports to play with as well as being able to affordably upgrade your stock radio to do things it couldn’t before. All of this in one tiny package that’s probably as large as what you’re using right now.