Over the holidays, I took a long driving vacation with my wife. Faced with the thought of long hours on the road, we decided that it would be nice to have some music along for the ride. Only one problem -- the car (a 2007 Honda CR-V) has no way of interfacing wirelessly with our iPhones. Fortunately, accessory manufacturer Inateck came to the rescue with a tiny black box called the BR1002 Bluetooth transmitter and receiver (US$21.99, affiliate link).
As the name implies, the BR1002 has two functions. It can act as a Bluetooth transmitter, turning older stereo systems (an old cassette Sony Walkman, anyone?) into Bluetooth devices. But more importantly, it can act as a Bluetooth receiver. The CR-V has a 3.5mm audio input jack, so plugging the BR1002 into it makes it possible for me to beam music to the audio system from iPhone or iPad.
The BR1002 is tiny, measuring 2 x 1.06 x 0.43 inches (51 x 27 x 11mm) and weighing just 0.43 ounces (12.3 grams). There's a red switch on one side to toggle between transmit and receive modes, and a red button on top for pairing. There are two ports; a micro-USB port for charging (a cable is included) and a 3.5mm jack for connecting to an audio device.
Charging the BR1001 takes about two hours, which gives it about six hours of life as a receiver or eight hours as a transmitter. While it's charging, a white ring LED around the red pairing button is illuminated.
If you've ever wanted to turn your favorite pair of headphones into a "wireless" pair? That's one of the cool things you can do with the BR1002. I have a pair of V-Moda Crossfades from 2012 that are still my go-to headphones because they're comfy and provide good sound. I plugged them into the output port of the BR1002, switched the side switch to RX to make it act as a receiver, then turned on the device and paired my iPhone to it.
The pairing procedure is relatively simple and worked as expected; you press and hold the red button for 9 seconds until a pair of white LEDs flash, then look for "Inateck BR1002" in the list of Bluetooth devices from your iOS device or Mac and pair with it.
The instruction manual for the device features instructions in English, German and (I think) Chinese has some humorous English translations in it. My personal favorite was "Connect the receiver to your headphone or home stereo playback device through a 3.5mm audio jack could also enjoy music." Wha?
I used the included 3.5mm cable when connecting the BR1002 to my car audio input jack. It's short, but very usable for connecting the tiny black box to my car. There's one downside to the device - I wish it could be plugged in all the time for charging, but the instructions state that it can't work that way.
Since my iPhone and the BR1002 were fairly close to each other during testing both in the car and with the headphones, I found the Bluetooth connection to be quite steady with only the rare stutter or dropout.
Note that only one iOS device at a time can be paired with the BR1002. If you need a Bluetooth receiver that can handle up to three different pairings at once, the Grace Digital 3Play ($41.99, affiliate link) is an excellent choice.
It's not fancy and it's so small that it might be easy to lose, but if you need a way to turn an existing audio system into a Bluetooth device, the Inateck BR1002 is definitely a low-cost way to do that.