Macally BTCUP

Most of us don’t upgrade cars nearly as frequently as we upgrade technology. While cell phones get lost, broken and outdated every couple of years, many cars now on the road were built when cell phones were just a dream for the average American. Unless you’ve just coughed up the cash for a brand new luxury car, chances are your cell phone and iPod don’t get along too well with your car audio system.

Luckily, if you’re still flogging the last miles out of a 1989 Chevy Beretta, or even something a little less dated, there’s still hope for hooking up modern-day technology with a relic of a car.

Enter the BTCUP. Peripheral maker Macally took the one standard space nearly all cars are guaranteed to have – a cup holder – and built a connectivity device designed especially to fit in it. The BTCUP offers a dock for iPods with built-in FM transmitter, plus a Bluetooth interface to serve as a hands-free speakerphone as well. The result: a bridge to in-car connectivity that works in any car with an FM radio, and in a size smaller than a half-consumed Slurpee.

Macally BTCUP
Image Courtesy of Macally

The first duty of the multitasking BTCUP is piping iPod music through the car radio. Using a cigarette lighter to tap power from your vehicle’s electrical system, the BTCUP can simultaneously charge an iPod and broadcast music over any station on the full FM spectrum – 88.1MHz to 107.9MHz.

A word of precaution, though: The BTCUP’s iPod compatibility is finicky. Only first and second generation iPod nanos, fourth and fifth generation iPods, and iPod Minis will be able to connect. Like with buying an insurance policy, reading through all the terms of purchase is advised.

But the BTCUP is far from a one-trick pony. It also employs the same FM gateway to your car’s speaker system to function as a hands-free car speakerphone. When connected to a phone via a Bluetooth connection, the BTCUP will automatically switch from playing music to phone mode when you pick up a call. An integrated mic provides the means for two-way communications.

Hard buttons for all of the BTCUP’s essential features and a small LCD display should make configuring the gadget less of a bear. Best of all, unlike the rigid specifications for iPod compatibility, using Bluetooth to interface with mobile phones means nearly all modern phones will get along just fine with the BTCUP, and without a physical connection.

If you would like your car to be wired up like a mobile office without… well, wiring it up like a mobile office, the BTCUP could be a hassle-free way to get there. Its $119 USD price tag puts it right on par with a lot of other Bluetooth car speakerphones, and they don’t even include any iPod docking functionality. For the tech-savvy driver who can’t quite justify a $600 USD a month lease for the latest and greatest luxury sedan, $119 USD for the latest and greatest car gadget might be a solid compromise. You can find out more about the BTCUP on the Macally website.

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