Kufatec Fiscon “Basic-Plus” Bluetooth in car hands-free kit
Most modern cars include Bluetooth hands-free as standard, for those that don’t there are plenty of 3rd party aftermarket kits available from brands such as Parrot, Jabra and Plantronics to choose from. Most are reasonably priced around £50 – £100 and usually include features like voice integration, caller display and audio streaming. What most of these brands lack is discretion and integration into the cars existing controls. I was specifically looking for a “factory-fit” kit, which integrates with the cars steering wheel controls, dashboard display and stereo. I was absolutely against any sort of cheap nasty plastic display that hangs of the dashboard and stands out like a sore thumb.
My car already has the phone controls on the steering wheel but didn’t include a hands-free kit, it must of been an option that wasn’t specified by the original owner. I made the mistake of thinking the dealership would offer a competitive price for retro-fitting the factory hands-free kit. Suffice to say i was wrong, not only was the factory kit quite basic, but it also would of cost more than the cars worth, so i politely declined.
Not prepared to give up i scoured the internet for a solution that satisfied my requirements and found this, the Kufatec Fiscon “Basic-Plus” Bluetooth in car hands free kit (~£250), which offers the following features:
- Full integration with the vehicles ‘infotainment’ system, dashboard display (DIS+) and multi-function steering wheel / stalk
- Voice control (uses your phones voice control, if supported by the mobile phone)
- Phone-book integration/browse (limited to 1000 entries)
- Bluetooth audio streaming (A2DP)
- Display caller, network provider and coverage
Fitting the hands-free kit required taking out the stereo and removing the trim around the windscreen in order to fit the microphone. Installation was plug and play once the stereo and trim had been removed, however if you don’t have the correct tools i recommend talking to a specialist who does, they will probably charge you £50 to install, although it’s literally a 15 minute job.
So what’s it like to live with?
Initial impressions were favourable, setup was easy, pairing it to my phone and downloading the address book was straight forward. The phone then automatically paired with the device each time the ignition was switched on. Making a call was very intuitive, all i had to do was press the call button on my steering wheel, which activated the voice command on my phone, i simply said ‘Call Home’ and the phone placed the call. The call was subsequently output through the car speakers.
Call quality from what i could determine was good, i could hear the person on the other end loud and clear. Unfortunately they couldn’t hear me clearly (this is with the car stationary, engine turned off) which meant i had to raise my voice louder than i normally would in conversation. Playing with the call volume in the settings did improve things but generally the feedback i have received since from a number of calls is that the other person knows straight away that i’m using a hands-free in the car and and the audio quality from their side “isn’t great”. The mic is well positioned close to the driver, i generally think it’s just a poor quality microphone that’s included in the kit.
Unfortunately the problems i have had with this device haven’t been limited to call quality alone. Reliability has also been a problem, calls often break-up, mid conversation, i can still hear the other person but they can’t hear me, which is very frustrating as it means i then have to hang up the call and re-pair the device with my phone, and then call back. This obviously defeats the object of hands free as it means finding somewhere safe to pull over and fettle with the phones Bluetooth settings before re-commencing the call and the journey.
I have also experienced intermittent problems when using my phones satellite navigation, the voice directions work fine to start with and then after a while stop broadcasting. It’s apparent the phone is attempting to broadcast voice directions as the radio drops out momentarily only to resume after a brief period of silence. The only way i have found to fix this is to re-pair my phone.
The Bluetooth audio streaming (A2DP) was another major letdown, unfortunately despite claims on the website and settings stipulated in the manual this device will not stream stereo audio via blue-tooth. I have the latest firmware and have checked the setup options stipulated in the manual, however the audio streaming is mono and subsequently unfit for any kind of music streaming. This particular issue may have something to do with the stereo head-unit in my car, although it is listed as compatible in the documentation.
In summary the Kufatec Fiscon “Basic-Plus” has great potential, unfortunately in my experience it has not lived up to the claims advertised on the manufacturers website. I feel it is let down by firmware issues or poor quality and unreliable components, which at this price point is unacceptable. Hopefully Kufatec will release a firmware update that addresses some of these issues in the not too distant future, but until they do i cannot recommend this product.