Ok so here’s the deal: You buy a nice new car but you decide to forgo the $1000 Bluetooth option that is available because you don’t mind using an earpiece. That makes sense. Then, after going through three different bluetooth headsets due to sitting on them, leaving them in your pants while they are in the wash, and dropping another in a puddle– all while getting weird looks from other drivers wondering why you’re talking to yourself, you decide to get an in-car alternative. You decide to get one of many solutions such as the Parrot Minikit Smart (review coming soon) and it’s good, but you don’t like having to turn the radio down to answer a call and you hate the smudges it leaves on your windshield. Finally you decide to go to the dealership and plead with them to install the bluetooth option after-market until you hear the retrofit cost: $1000 + installation.
What do you do now? You’re stuck– you can replace your radio with one that supports bluetooth but you don’t want to get rid of the “OEM” look. Keeping the mounted bluetooth phone-holder is just not an option. You look online and find out about the Parrot MKi9200 and fall in love. This is exactly what you want.
Why do you want the Parrot MKi9200? You want it because it offers integration into your car’s stock sound system while adding bluetooth, iPod, AUX, and USB support. All for less than the dealership wants for just Bluetooth.
But the MKi9200 isn’t perfect yet. Let’s make this system even better than stock by adding the ProClip iPhone mount so we can have iPhone based navigation through the factory system with Bluetooth voice control.
You can see, this setup is intense. You can install it yourself, but professional installation is recommended. I had my car’s install done by a recommended installer with a cost of less than $200. That, plus the sub-$200 price of the MKi9200, with a plug-and-play harness and steering wheel control kit for less than $100 and the Brodit ProClip for less than $100 nets you a premium Bluetooth system for less than $600. And let’s not forget how you get built in iPod/iPhone, USB, and AUX input to boot.
The Brodit ProClip mount is ingenious. You can choose from multiple mounting locations (I chose the center dash air vents) and you choose which device you will use. You screw the two together with provided hardware, clip on, and that’s it. You have an almost-stock looking mount for your device. It holds my iPhone 3GS well and allows it to swivel. It also has room for my car’s factory iPod hookup underneath to provide power. If you ever get another device, just swap that half of the system and you’re ready to rock and roll. What a great concept.
It works perfectly in unison with the Parrot Bluetooth system. The MKi9200 consists of a few visible components: A display, a remote control, and a microphone. The microphone slips on the top of your headliner against the windshield so it’s almost invisible. The screen can be attached any vertical surface as it has a ball mount for directional positioning, and the remote can be placed wherever you want. Some people attach it to their steering wheel for easy access but as my steering wheel is hooked up directly to the unit, I placed it to the left of my dashboard in case I ever need it. It’s out of the way and I can do almost everything with the steering wheel anyway.
You’re probably wondering how this compares to factory bluetooth. I’m happy to say that it’s far better. I have a 2008 BMW. The factory-available bluetooth on it just plain sucks. There’s no easy system for placing calls without using your phone. The system is annoying to pair, information has to squeeze on my small radio screen, and it’s not easy to use. The Parrot system is completely opposite. You pair it, it downloads your phonebook, and you press the call button and that’s it. From there, it’s all voice controlled. It asks, “Who would you like to call?” I say “Mom, Cell” and it dials my mom’s cell phone. That’s it!! It’s insane. I’ve never used something so easy. If you have an incoming call, you say “Accept” and immediately you’re talking to your caller.
As for the other features: iPod/iPhone support is great. The interface is similar to the original iPod with the click wheel. Unfortunately, due to the nature of steering wheel controls, it’s difficult to choose from hundreds of artists with an up and down key. This is where the controller comes in handy. AUX in support is great as well allowing you to use another MP3 player, Laptop, or other device to play through your sound system. The last two inputs are USB and SD card. Both work similarly. The SD card reader is located in the display, just behind it. The USB input is a wire. Either way, you can browse a USB drive or SD card for music and play it with no issues.
Overall, the system blew my mind. How could this system be so much better than the stock Bluetooth system while offering a “stock” like look– all for less money? With the ProClip mount, it’s simply unbeatable. Gone are the days of looking like a crazy person who talks to a small earpiece. No longer will you have to manually mute your music to talk on the phone. The MKi9200 does it all for you. And it does it while adding tons of new features to your car. If you’re looking for a great in-car bluetooth solution, stop waiting and go get it now. You won’t be disappointed.
Brodit ProClip Car Mount – $Various