Season’s greetings, Phandroid readers. It’s that time again and we’re back with another edition of our Holiday Gift Guide. Yesterday, it was all about The Best Fitness Trackers and today we’re taking a look at some of the best car accessories you can buy, most of which are specifically geared toward your smartphone.
For many folks, their car, truck, or van is their home away from home. Whether it’s a long commute to work, or you’re planning that next family road trip, it’s important to make sure you’re properly prepared. In this list, we’re covering some of the Best Car Accessories of 2016 that fit into almost anyone’s budget. Have a look!
Enter the giveaway at the bottom of this page for your chance to win the Aukey Car Charger!
There’s lot of tech in our cars, but if there was one gadget that belongs in all of them, without a doubt it would be the modern day dash cam. We’re still a ways off before these things start becoming standard, but having a good dash cam set up could prove to be your best friend whenever stepping behind the wheel. Not just for leisure, mind you, but by documenting everything that happens on the road. The best way to prove you weren’t at fault for an accident? Solid video proof.
The good news is that dash cams have gotten a whole lot less expensive, while getting smaller in size and improving in quality. By far one of the best dash cams out there is the Z-Edge Z2 Plus. The Z2 Plus is one of many dash cams on the market that adopts the rear view mirror/camera combo. It securely attaches over your stock rear view mirror and has an LCD that shines through from underneath the display. It even comes with an extra rear view camera for either recording the inside of the cabin, or sticking on the rear window as backup cam.
As the name might suggest, there was a previous model (the regular Z2), but the video quality on that one was extremely lackluster, making it difficult to make license plates or street signs. With the Z2 Plus, things have been vastly improved, with the ability to record in “super HD” 1296p video, and fine tune exposure and/or ISO on the 720p display.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better, higher quality, more streamlined dash cam for this amount of money. At $110, it’s practically a steal and comes highly recommended with a nearly perfect 5-star reviews on Amazon. The Z-Edge Z2 Plus comes with a car charger, 16GB SD card, 13ft USB cable and everything else you need to get started, so there’s no need for anything extra. It’s all included.
Find a good place to stick your smartphone is always tricky in cars, that’s why car docks are necessary. They allow you to glance down at navigation, and with Android Auto, allows you to accept hands-free calls while keeping your eyes on the road. The problem with most car docks is they suck. They either block an AC vent, stick on your dash, or suction cup to the windshield. The most optimal place to have a dock is right where your car’s controls already area.
Thankfully someone had the bright idea to use the now obsolete CD player as the perfect place to stick a car dock. They’re called CD slot phone mounts and they slide into most CD players. Once secured, your phone will now be in the perfect spot to show you information at a glance. Anker makes a really great and affordable mount with a quick release switch and adjustable handle for optimal placement. Best part is at $14, you may want to get one for every car you own.
There are few things more unsettling than a “check engine” light suddenly popping up in your car’s instrument panel. The cause of the light could range from something minor (like a faulty O2 sensor), or something much more serious. In either case, you’re going to want to get it checked out. While you could spend $75 to take your car to a mechanic — or worse yet, a dealership — just to figure out what’s causing it, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just check it yourself? Well, you can.
If your car supports one of five OBD-II protocols, the Panlong mini Bluetooth OBD2 scanner allows you to perform a quick diagnostics check for trouble codes — whether generic or manufacturer specific — and show them directly on your smartphone via Bluetooth. For car enthusiasts, the compatible app even shows you real-time engine data like RPM, coolant temperature, fuel system status, speed, timing, manifold pressure, fuel pressure — all that fun stuff. Just keep in mind that it only supports Android and Windows, so if you’re thinking about gifting this particular model to someone with an iPhone, don’t bother.
Everybody needs a way to charge their mobile devices on-the-go and while you could skimp and grab one from the 99 Cent Store, not all USB chargers are built the same. In fact, some of them can be downright dangerous.
To ensure full compatibility with your phone and maximum charge speeds, you’ll need a high-quality car charger and AUKEY makes some of the best. They currently have a dual-port USB charger for $15. While it’s possible to find similar dual-port USB chargers for cheaper, most aren’t capable of charging at full speed when two devices are connected. The CC-T8 does. With up to 2.4A per port, you can even simultaneously charge two tablets at full speed. It’s pretty great.
It only gets better if you have a Qualcomm 3.0 supported device, where each port can charge at fast charging speeds — not too many chargers can do that.
Dual-port or even 4 port car chargers can be great for long rides. But what if you have an entire car, SUV, or van full of power hungry devices? Jelly Comb’s 6-port USB car charger could be a life saver. Jelly Comb calls it “the most power car charger ever” and we’re inclined to believe them.
The 65W 13A charger can deliver 2.4A per port, so no matter what you plug into this thing, it’s going to be charging at it’s normal charging speeds. That being said, the Jelly Comb doesn’t support fast charging technologies, but regular charging works fine. At $13, you may want to pick up one for yourself and an extra as a gift.
Bluetooth connectivity is slowly becoming more common in vehicles, but not everyone has the money to run out and buy a new car or even invest in a new car stereo. If you have an older vehicle equipped with an auxiliary input (aux port) you can easily Bluetooth connectivity by using this little dongle.
This device connects to your car’s auxiliary port and acts as a Bluetooth receiver, allowing you to play music wirelessly through your car’s speakers. You can even connect two mobile devices to the dongle at the same time. Once paired, connecting is automatic and because the dongle has an integrated battery (for up to 8 hours without a USB connection), you don’t have to worry about it shutting down when turning your car on/off for a few minutes, or powering off if you need the charging cable/port for your phone.
The best part is you can even use this dongle on an old home audio system, giving it wireless Bluetooth capabilities well. At $15, you may want to consider stuffing this into someone’s stocking this holiday.
Those that still use an aux cord to connect their smartphones to their car stereo know all to well the troubles with listening to music while charging. This Ground Loop Noise Isolator eliminate the high pitched buzzing you hear when charging and listening to music over a wired connection by acting as middle man between your phone and the car stereo. It can also be helpful in other use case scenarios where hissing and buzzing can come from home audio systems as well. It’s quite literally plug-and-play, so there’s absolutely no setup involved. Just plug in and you’re all set.
GIVEAWAY: Aukey Car Charger
All you have to do is follow @Phandroid on Twitter. Your odds of winning are 1 out of 8,000 (that gives enough people a chance to enter in time). The best part is you don’t have to wait to find out if you’ve won. Amazon will tell you immediately upon entering if you are the winner. You can also follow us at the usual places below to know when new giveaways are going live. Good luck!