November 14, 2007 Cable connections are dying a slow death at the hands of convenient, wireless Bluetooth devices like this one. The Venturi Mini is a wireless music streaming and hands-free telephone gadget that works with most phones – but it’s the combination of new-world Bluetooth with the old-school technology of short-range FM radio transmission that makes this handy toy work with almost all car stereo.

Smartphones are gradually taking over from a lot of handheld devices as they gain extra storage capacity, applications and hardware. MP3 players are an easy target in this regard, requiring little but storage space, a screen and a headphone jack.

Bluetooth is now a feature on most smartphones too – removing the need for accessories to be brand- or connector-specific, so we’re starting to see some pretty cool paired gadgets coming out.

The latest to come to our attention is the Venturi Mini, which is a simple Bluetooth unit that plugs into the cigarette lighter power outlet in your car, and operates as both a bluetooth handsfree kit and a music streaming jukebox from your phone to your car stereo system.

You might remember the iTrip FM radio transmitter, which plugs into an iPod and transmits a short-range radio signal to your car radio so you can play your iPod songs through your stereo system – the Venturi Mini works in roughly the same way, but wirelessly thanks to Bluetooth and it adds the hands-free phone calling functionality.

Using Euro-standard Radio Data System (RDS) transmission, the Mini also streams track information and caller ID information to the car stereo, so compatible units are able to display this information right there on the radio’s LCD screen. There’s also basic audio in/out jacks so you can make direct connections if your stereo’s set up for it.

The Venturi Mini is fully approved under new UK laws enacted at the end of last year and carries a full CE certification valid anywhere in the European Union, so there’s no legal issues around its ability to operate as an FM radio broadcast device.

One small downside of the device is that in order to make use of the hands-free calling capability it offers, it’s necessary to tune the car stereo to a specific frequency output from the Venturi Mini – so if you’re listening to a different radio station when a call comes in, there’s an extra button to press before you start talking. Frankly, it’s not that much of a price to pay for the convenience of being able to mount your hands-free device and MP3 streamer in pretty much any car in a matter of a minute or so.

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