In This Article: We'll review Spotify's Car Thing and tell you what we think, what it is, what it does and how it works.

Today, we are going to look at one of our top rated Bluetooth FM transmitters on the market. The Zeeporte FM Transmitter & Car Charger is packed with features and the latest tech to provide the ultimate solution to streaming music in cars not equipped with Bluetooth or other methods of streaming.

Introducing the Mule

We installed the Zeeporte in our Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas. The XJ8 Vanden Plas was the flagship model of this illustrious brand for many years. Back in 2005 when the car was built, it carried a window sticker north of $75,000. This vehicle used some brand-new technology at the time- including fiber optic stereo wiring, radar-operated cruise control, multi-zone climate control, and dozens of other luxury features that tie into the factory head unit and the steering wheel controls.

One thing that Jaguar left out was an AUX-In port for streaming music. Bluetooth – while available at the time as an option – was new-fangled and untrusted and USB was still a year or two away from going mainstream. So, instead of taking chances, Jaguar installed a CD changer in the trunk and a head unit in the dash that is all-but-impossible to replace, counting on the targeted buyer to replace the vehicle in two or three years when more modern technology would be available.

Zeeporte FM Transmitter Review

Years ago, the owner of this vehicle tried a Bluetooth transmitter as a way to get on-demand tunes in the car. In those days, WiFi was spotty even in many urban areas, and out in the country where the owner lives it was non-existent. The transmitter would work fine provided the car was parked, but once the owner started to drive around, the device cut in and out, lost connections, and was basically just a hassle.

 

Times have certainly changed and just in the past few years we have seen a flurry of activity as cell service providers have expanded their networks and the protocol that enables Bluetooth to function has been fine-tuned. The Zeeporte FM transmitter is one of the newer designs on the market and it takes advantage of the most current technology.

Installation and Connection

It took longer to open the package than it did to pair the device. This is about as simple as it could possibly get. Plug the transmitter in, tune to an unused FM station, set the device to the same channel, and it’s done. I’m not joking, that is really everything that you have to do.

Zeeporte in box
Zeeporte in the box before opening up for the first time

Features of the Zeeporte FM Transmitter

This is an interesting product on many levels. It’s fairly small and discrete and plugs directly into the 12V accessory port – what Jaguar calls a cigar lighter. That means there are no cords running willy-nilly all over the interior making a cluttered mess of everything. It has a simple display, basic buttons, and a tuning knob for setting the FM frequency.

Zeeporte out of box
A look at the Zeeporte once I pulled it out of the box

Charging Your Devices is Easy and Fast

It also includes a bevy of charging ports including a USB-C Quick Charge 3.0 port on the face, a USB-C Quick Charge 3.0 on one side, and a USB-C 2.1A port on the opposite side. It can charge three devices at once, albeit at a reduced speed. The port that was the most important was the USB-C QC port. The owner recently switched to a Google Pixel phone that uses this port type, and the need to carry special cables and dongles to adapt from USB-A to -C quickly gets irritating. Having the ability to quickly charge up front is a big convenience all on it’s own.

Direct-Streaming Music

The Zeeporte FM transmitter includes a TF slot. You can use up to a 32GB micro-SD card to directly stream music through the device- perfect for when you are driving in those areas that have terrible cell service. The TF slot couldn’t be easier to use- install the card and it starts playing. The knob functions to play and pause, while the forward and back buttons skip tracks. Rotating the knob even controls the volume.

EQ Controls That Work

Most modern luxury cars have a head unit that uses dynamic EQ to fine-tune the audio output. Jaguar elected to go with a far more simple- and largely useless- EQ that provides treble and bass adjustments in numerical increments. Fader, balance, and subwoofer output are also numerically controllable.

The Zeeporte device has a built-in EQ that actually works pretty well, particularly when the operator uses a combination of adjusting the head unit and setting the EQ on the transmitter. If nothing else, the transmitter provides more of a dynamic sound environment than the factory EQ controls provide.

Talking Without Your Hands

Jaguar included hands-free calling in the 2005 XJ8 Vanden Plas – and even included a Motorola V60 phone with the car that was permanently connected into the stereo. Unfortunately, only the phone that came with the car will work, and there isn’t any way to conveniently replace the old Motorola with something new since it was a proprietary Jaguar and Motorola design.

The Zeeporte almost completely fixes the Jaguar issues. When a call comes in, a short press on the knob answers the call. The built-in microphone picks up your voice and puts the callers voice through the car speakers. Short press the knob again to hang up. A double-tap on the knob redials the last number, while holding the knob down rejects a call. The only thing missing is the ability to make a call hands free.

Gaining a Light Show

One neat feature that Zeeporte adds to this device many similar units don’t have is a variable, 10-color light ring around the device. The ring makes it easy to see the device in the dark, and provides a fun bit of ambiance when driving. It can even be set to shift from one shade to the next in a rhythmic and soothing pattern, though it doesn’t follow the beat of the music. It’s a nice feature in this car, since Jaguar elected to go with extremely dim ambient lighting.

Streaming Music While Driving in Rural California

One thing that is bizarre about the state of California is the difference between urban and rural areas. It’s almost like you fall off the edge of the world when you leave the cities. Out in rural CA, cell service is limited, WiFi is spotty, and there are not a lot of great options on the radio. I fully expected to find that the Zeeporte wouldn’t perform out in the sticks, but I was really amazed by the solid connections.

Zeeporte uses the latest Bluetooth 5.0 protocol, one of the reasons I think this device worked better than expected. In several hours of driving, it lost signal twice. Once, it was switching between network and WiFi, the other time might have simply been a dead zone. Other than that, it worked flawlessly driving from the Central Valley through Sequoia National Forest and back again.

Conclusion

I had high hopes for this device, and I will say that I am quite impressed. It pairs easily, works perfectly, and has excellent connectivity, even when I thought it wouldn’t hold up. In particular, the inclusion of the USB-C QC3.0 charging port is wonderful, and something I expect many other manufacturers will be doing soon. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this device for another vehicle, and I have already shown it off to a few friends that have long lamented the expense of putting a proper head unit in their work trucks. The Zeeporte FM transmitter and car charger is an excellent product that works as it should, and actually provides the music you want in the vehicle you drive.