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Review of the Venturi Mini: an in-car Bluetooth gadget for your phone and tunes

In case you missed it, this week I reviewed the Venturi Mini, a wireless in-car music connector and hands-free phone device... which basically means it plays music and takes phone calls in the car, without you having to pick up your phone.

When I tested it, I took it for a spin around my neighborhood and it worked great. But after the review was published, a reader asked me how it handles on long drives. It transmits sounds to an FM station, and a strong signal is needed to avoid interference when you go through different cities.

Yesterday I drove from West Palm Beach to Miami via I-95, which was about 70 miles. The biggest problem came when I would change counties. The device only works on a station with no signal. So a station that was empty in Palm Beach County would have static or have a signal when I got closer to Broward County. That meant I had to change stations to hear my music.

Throughout the trip I had to switch stations three times. And it's easy to do while driving -- although it is probably not safe to mess with this thing while you are supposed to be paying attention to the road. Just a roll of a wheel on the Venturi Mini changed the stations, so it didn't feel like too much of a hassle.

But if you're the kind of person who doesn't have the patience to switch stations on long drives, you'll get irked with it since it costs $130. And when you pay $130 for something, you want it to be flawless. But you can't expect an FM transmitter to be perfect when you travel long distances, since station signals are weaker and stronger in different areas.

But on the other hand, I normally commute 25 miles to get to work, and I didn't have to change the station once. I just had to put up with some static blips for a few blocks midway through the drive. It lasted about two minutes.

Click the video below to hear more of my thoughts on the Venturi and to learn how it works. You can find out if your phone is compatible at myventuri.com.


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