Bluetooth Hits the Road

If you like listening to music in the car, things just keep getting better, thanks to an explosion of technology that allows more options for taking your tunes on the road. Where just a few years ago, we pretty much had CD, radio, and the occasional satellite receiver, now you can choose from a plethora of possibilities: today’s in-dash units play back music from USB sticks, SD cards, in-dash hard drives — but most interestingly, many of these devices let you stream directly from your iPod, iPhone, or Android device, letting you access not just the music files you have stored on your device, but the wide world of Internet radio.

While a few in-dash units include USB connections for direct iDevice access, most of automakers are adding wireless music streaming via Bluetooth. But if you don’t want to buy a new car just to get Bluetooth streaming, you can just add it to your existing ride — the aftermarket has you covered with a variety of applications at a wide range of price points. Here are five that we recommend that will let you cut the cord in your car. Two caveats: You’ll need a portable device that has Bluetooth audio baked in, like the latest iPhones and iPod Touch; and you’ll have to keep in mind that sound quality can sometimes suffer over Bluetooth audio as compared to a wired connection, although it’s hard beat convenience-wise.