Wednesday, 20 July 2016

ROIDMI 2S Smart Car Charger: Small Gadget That Packs a Punch

While it certainly is no household name brand, ROIDMI is certainly pacing its way to the international markets as a Bluetooth Car Charger manufacturer. Being one of the many companies under Xiaomi's Smart Ecosystem investment, ROIDMI was rather unknown to many at first since all it ever made was a car charger branded under Mi. It was only until the release of their second-gen product that people start to notice this company. Here's the review of the ROIDMI 2S.

In their efforts to achieve international availability as well as funding their next project, the 2S, the company campaigned on Indiegogo. It was an instant success, as they managed to get funded within 18 hours and proceeded to raise over $200,000 (2016% funded) with over 3,500 backers. The additional funding went into development and limited production of a car air purifier and a Blue U (a USB stick that allows Bluetooth music streaming to any audio system with USB I/O)

ROIDMI charges USD $39 for the 2S on Indiegogo, with another $5 for shipping in the US or $10 for shipping to the rest of the world

The 2S comes in a white cardboard packaging with an image of the product printed in emboss on the front of the package. The version I have is a pre-production unit manufactured and provided by the International Team from ROIDMI in Wuxi, China. Words and descriptions are written all in Chinese for this unit, but the international version should have English.

On the right of the box is the specification list of the charger. It supporting a 12~24V;0~2.4A input and a 5V;2.4~3.8A (20W max) output through its dual USB ports for charging your devices, while sporting Bluetooth 4.2 for Bluetooth media streaming with support for multiple Bluetooth standards (for geeks, those including A2DP, HFP, AVRCP, SPP and BLE). Users will have to own devices with Android 4.2 and above, or iOS 8.0 and newer.

On the back of the box are the features of the device, as well as a list of most of the car manufacturers supported. Also provided is a guide to checking whether the cigarette lighter receptacle in your car is supported, luckily most of the cars from the recent few decades comes with the required socket. If you're having an incompatible socket, you can purchase ROIDMI's converter to adapt the charger to make it work.

The contents within are simple, as pulling out another box within reveals the car charger itself wrapped in plastic on top, while the user manual is tucked away within the smaller box. That's basically all you get.

If you think the matte black polycarbonate outer shell makes the device look cheap, wait till you handle it personally. While the device might appear small, it sure has its heft as its is made of metal internally. The company advertised the unit as being highly durable and capable of enduring even the most brutal users who enjoy inserting and removing the unit from the receptacle very frequently. It is also claimed to be fire retardant up to 750°C.

The bottom electrode is made of stainless steel, which not only contributes to its weight but also durability as it provides a much stronger structural support to prevent damage to the internal components should you drop it. I have personally dropped mine from waist height, it received no damage apart from some scuffs on the electrode surface which didn't cause any issues using it. This is in no way part of real life scenarios, but just for test purposes.

The dual USB ports are more than meets the eye. The USB ports are illuminated with LEDs that users can customise to colours of their liking. Not only does it supports USB charging for your phones or tablets, it is also capable to monitoring the output voltage of your car's battery and warn your accordingly with a red lighting and sound signals. The mic to the left of the ports is capable of noise reduction while users are during hands-free calls.

The car charger comes with a dedicated smartphone application that allows users to customise the settings and personalise their ROIDMI car charger. For users of MIUI-powered devices, the application will automatically prompt for an autostart permission approval. The application is not well translated into English, with a few mistranslations here and there, but doesn't affect the overall usability.

Plugging it the device into the receptacle powers it on and allows users to set it up for the first time. With the Bluetooth connection active, users can stream music, make hands-free calls, use voice commands (only for MIUI phones) and broadcast navigation audio to your speaker system using the in-built FM system of your car. The 2S has comes with the Quintic QN8007 that is capable of scanning for a FM frequency with the least interference, or users can choose the one they prefer.. 

The application selection at the homescreen allows for autostart of the applications upon powering up the car charger and connecting to the phone. Users with Xiaomi accounts will be able to sign in to their account, while the others can register for one easily. Changing between a Small Car or a Big Car brought no difference as well. The stream quality is the best I've heard so far on a device of this kind.

I find the device an enjoyable little gadget to use, as I drive an old Toyota Corolla that doesn't have Bluetooth connectivity and I absolutely love streaming music from my phone to my car's audio system. ROIDMI did surprisingly make it all easy to me. It's easy to set up and did I mention the stream quality is absolutely phenomenal for a device of its kind? If I have to nit-pick, it's going to be the rather poorly translated companion application that's a bit of a bummer.

Sources: Indiegogo | ROIDMI