So i received this a little over a week ago now as a product sample and without any expectations whatsoever, embarked on a solid week of using this over our cars in car Bluetooth audio system.
Starting with packaging, this is standard Roav fare, coming in a compact box in white/grey livery with orange accents to symbolise the Roav sub-brand.
Inside there’s a user manual in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Arabic languages and this has all you need to get you started. To make the most of the transmitter i highly recommend using the Roav companion app (search for Roav Charger in the Play or App Store), this makes setting up the transmitter a breeze and also has some handy extras which i will talk about later.
There’s also a Happy/Not happy satisfaction card which nods to the models Anker origins and the transmitter itself.
The unit is well made but is quite bulky at the business end where you’ll find 2 high speed USB charging ports, either of which can be used to charge a device or play back media from a USB thumb drive - or both! Off to the right hand side and tucked behind the fascia is a 3.5mm input jack which can accept connections from anything which has this connection - yes, even an old Sony Walkman if you fancy! On the front is a small digital display which shows connectivity status and the chosen FM frequency - by default it is set to 107.00 MHZ which is not used by any radio station as far as i’m aware. Beneath this are the media controls, a play/pause/answer/hang up button flanked by skip forward/reverse buttons. These all feel nicely tactile and up to the job.
Set up is simple, plug into your cars cigarette lighter/power input socket, locate the device in your Bluetooth settings and the both will connect together. Once you’ve done this i would recommend going into the settings in the app by pressing the gear icon in the bottom right of the screen and selecting ‘Enhanced’ in the FM signal section for better audio quality.
As above, the frequency on my unit was set to 107.00 mhz as standard, so it’s a case of switching to the radio in your car and searching for this frequency. Once done you should hear silence to signify you are on the same frequency band. From here you can now play music either from your phone, via USB or using the 3.5mm input jack. Essentially the transmitter is a ‘hub’ which relays any sound played through it via FM to your vehicles audio system. I even tried it on my father in law’s old MG Midget and it worked no issues at all (although with the older car aerial there were some small issues with interference but nothing major).
One thing i do need to make you aware of is the fact you’ll need to have your phone mounted on the dash in a safe location where you can see it, as if you need to make a phone call you’ll need to have access to your phone book to initiate the call first. It would have been nice to have some integration to make hands free calls via voice but this would likely have pushed up the cost. Once connected for music, you can use the forward/reverse buttons to navigate tracks using music services, similarly you can do the same for USB drives. However, if you’re connecting a portable device using the 3.5mm jack then you will need to do this manually from whatever device you’re using.
Before moving to sound quality, there is a brilliant feature named ‘Find my car’. As long as the unit is connected to your power socket, the Roav app allows you to locate your vehicle in car parks and busy spaces should you have forgotten where it is! This came in particularly handy on a recent trip to London where i completely forgot where i’d parked the car in a car park and the app guided me right to the door. This was a really nice surprise and adds value to what is already a very useful device. You can also see the voltage being input to the charger and also change the radio frequency using the built in app, in addition to a parking notification which time stamps when you last left your vehicle. Clever.
Okay, so the crucial bit - audio. Having had bluetooth in both this and our previous car, i could say we’ve been a little spoiled on this front but as most modern cars have this feature it’s just something which many take for granted. However, for those who have never had the experience of playing audio from anything other than the vehicles built in CD/Cassette/Radio this will be something of a mini revelation.
The audio from the F2 is great, with a solid connection and decent - if a little muddy - sound. The main differences between this and direct bluetooth connection to the car is the top end of the sound, it lacks the outright detail sparkle you get normally but it is certainly not bad. I found altering the shape of the sound using the bass/mid/treble helped quite a bit and also, as tends to be the case with most FM transmissions which are compressed, dialling back the bass does help a lot and clears up the sound. There’s a good sense of stereo separation and only the smallest amount of white noise can be heard at higher volumes.
Making and receiving calls is also good and voices were loud and clear in any conditions.
At the price and given the overall usefulness of the F2 transmitter, it would be petty to complain as its genuinely useful features and decent sound far outshine any minor misgivings in the audio department. Don’t forget this is using a tried and trusted old technology and in this regard i think it does a great job. The only downside is that due to the size of the main part of the unit, i have to swivel it on its side as the power socket is recessed behind a concealed door on our dash - but that’s more our cars fault than any design issues with the F2. Also, do bear in mind if your car has an external aerial then this can affect the audio if there is bad weather etc. If you have an internal transmitter which is built into the rear window or atop the car then you should have no issues.
To conclude, this was a very welcome surprise and i’m going to keep hold of this as one of our sons is bound to have a car eventually - and with the likelihood of the car being a banger with a basic radio, i can’t think of a better accessory to help them keep connected safely on the move.
A really great little product which i would happily recommend to anyone.