(Pocket-lint) - The cars coming out right now, on the bleeding edge, are full to the brim with tech, from integrated displays and Bluetooth to chargers and sophisticated audio systems, but that doesn't mean that there's nothing to add.
Whether you're driving a motor fresh off the line, or have a much older vehicle that could do with some sprucing up, there is a huge range of gadgets out there that can help to make your car feel more modern, or to add some amazing features you might need. We've brought together some of the very best for you, right here.
What is the best car gadget? Right now, our top recommendation is the Amazon Echo Auto. However, it's also worth considering the Pure Highway 600, Arsvita Bluetooth Cassette adapter, Xiaomi Mi Air Pump and the Tile Mate.
Our Top Pick: Best Car Gadget
Amazon Echo Auto
- All the convenience of Alexa in your car
- 8 microphone array
- Auxilliary and Bluetooth connectivity
- Vent mount only compatible with certain styles
There's nothing like going hands-free to make your life easier on the road - it lets you get things done on the move without any risk of undue distraction. Amazon's Echo Auto has been a mainstay in the US for years and is now available in the UK and EU at long last, letting you take advantage of Alexa's help on the go.
It makes controlling the radio, setting reminders or timers and doing anything else you'd use Alexa for an absolute doddle, and is super useful on school runs or during commutes to make sure you can still be productive.
Car gadgets we also recommend
While we think the Amazon Echo Auto is a great choice for a lot of people, not everyone is so fond of Alexa listening in all of the time. So, here are some other top car gadget options that we recommend.
Pure Highway 600
- Versatile connectivity
- Includes a hands-free mic
- Easy mounting
- DAB antenna install can be tricky
If you're looking for a car gadget that's all about the music, Pure has a great device to help in the form of the Highway 600. Its Bluetooth connection to your phone will let you access radio stations via DAB+, while this version also has the benefit of super-easy Spotify Connect integration, to make playing your tunes a matter of just a tap.
That's really convenient, but if you're happy to forego it, the more affordable Highway 400 offers most of the same benefits minus the Spotify access.
Arsvita Bluetooth Cassette adapter
- Cheap way to upgrade your car stereo
- Bluetooth 5.0 support
- Built-in battery
- Requires charging up
As we said at the start, though, we know many people are driving cars where a USB port or even a modern cigarette lighter might be wishful thinking - for many, tape decks are still the norm. That's where a superb adapter like this one from Arsvita comes in - plug it into your deck and just like that you'll have a Bluetooth device to connect to.
It'll translate your tunes into a signal that the deck can read, and meld together old tech and new to let you pump out your tunes through a system built long before Bluetooth - that's like magic, that is.
Xiaomi Mi Air Pump
- Small and lightweight
- Stylish and functional design
- Handy USB charging
- It gets surprisingly loud while in use
There's nothing worse than being stuck with a flat tyre, luckily Xiaomi's Mi Air Pump makes it a breeze to get up and running again. With its small and lightweight form factor, it's easy to find a spot to stow it in the glove compartment, boot or a backpack.
The included array of connectors ensures compatibility with most cars, bikes and even footballs for those summer road trips. It also features a built-in USB rechargeable battery that makes it super-convenient to keep topped up.
- Lightweight and convenient
- Nice and affordable
- Great app
- Some features require a subscription
Tile's trackers are one of those little innovations that are so useful, in so many different walks of life, that we find ourselves putting them on a bunch of different lists, and no wonder. In this case, slap a Tile tracker on your car keys and you can basically forget about losing them - avoiding that terrible rush where you misplace the keys just as you need to get going.
A finding range of a good distance means that you'll have plenty of range to play with, while the tracker's also nice and small to make it totally convenient to have on your keyring. Best of all, it works backwards too, letting you use the tracker to make your phone ring if you've actually lost the phone not the keys.
Other car gadgets we've considered
When initially deciding what we believe to be the best car gadgets currently available, we spent hours testing and researching. No matter the subject area, we always consider a range of factors when it comes to recommending devices - and apply the same process before a new device enters our top five selections. We don't just take into account our own testing, either, but also consumer reviews, brand quality and value.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.
How to choose a car gadget
If you're on the hunt for some car gadgets, then there's a good chance your car is lacking in the tech department. Luckily there's an abundance of gizmos to solve every modern problem, but how will you narrow down the right option for you?
Here are a couple of things we recommend considering before you make your decision.
Probably the most important of all is making sure that your new gadget is going to work with your car. This is mainly for the audio solutions, as some stereos will lack an aux input or Bluetooth connectivity.
Thankfully, manufacturers are well aware of this and offer a number of solutions for almost every eventuality, like cassette adapters or FM transmitters, but be sure to double-check before you buy.
Keeping it clean
With so many products on the market, it can be easy to get carried away with your car gadgets. If you have a diverse set of needs, we recommend looking for products that offer multiple solutions in one.
For example, some products offer a Bluetooth receiver, quick charge USB outlets and hands-free microphone all in one convenient package. You could, of course, buy each of these separately but you will end up with a mess of wires to manage. Keeping things simple allows for a cleaner aesthetic and less troubleshooting should something go wrong.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been assessed thoroughly to ensure it will perform exactly as a recommended pick should.
We've thought about everything, factoring in how each model will perform when being used to enhance your day-to-day driving experience and how it integrates with different vehicles. This meant diving into the key specs and features, like connectivity options, quick-charging support, mounting solutions and more. From there, we've then crossed our judgements with each individual price tag to ensure they represent good value for money, too.
As with any roundup, it's not possible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we lean on the experiences and opinions of the wider Pocket-lint team - as well as thoroughly assessing the areas above - in order to do our best in this regard.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each gadget is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity.