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Pros / The controls are easy to use.

Cons / The audio performance is poor.

 Verdict / The GOgroove FlexSMART X5 is a combination between a visor-style Bluetooth car kit, an AUX-in Bluetooth adapter and an FM transmitter, but it excels at being none of these.

The GOgroove FlexSMART X5 is an in-car Bluetooth FM transmitter trying to pass as an AUX-in Bluetooth adapter and a visor-style Bluetooth speakerphone. It does this by including an AUX cord and a visor clip. Either way you use it, this is one of the most obtrusive adapters I've reviewed and the audio quality isn't good enough to justify its price.

At $35 on Amazon, the FlexSMART X5 is below the $45 average price of a Bluetooth car kit. However, this is significantly more than the AUX-in Bluetooth adapters. It's even more expensive than the other two FM transmitter I reviewed – Nulaxy KM18 and Mpow. The best Bluetooth adapters I've tested cost less than $20, so there isn't much value here.

The signal clarity of the FlexSMART X5 received a D- grade. This is expected with FM transmitters because radio frequencies aren't designed for high-fidelity audio. There is so much static in the signal, even with the device placed in the optimal position for reception, turning up the volume didn't drown it out. The static muddles the midrange significantly, making the audio unbearably bad for a discerning listener. The AUX cord option works just as well as the AUX-in devices I've tested, but it's not worth buying this for the AUX connection, considering it $15 more expensive than better, less obtrusive adapters.

I also tested the call quality, but the same static issues present in the FM transmission were present in the call. So, it's not good for hands-free calling either. That said, studies show hands-free calling is not safer than hands-full driving. And neither is safe. So, the poor hands-free call quality shouldn't impact your purchasing decision.

The FlexSMART X5 received an A- for the ease of controls. It's very easy to use, save for a fickle power button at the base of the charger. The power button turned on and off, seemingly without being touched. However, since the FlexSMART X5 has a rechargeable battery, it isn't a big deal.

This isn't a subtle Bluetooth adapter. It's big and unwieldy when placed on the charger. The charger has an adjustable arm, but it's too short to get out of the way. With some cars, such as mine, this type of design interferes with the gear shift. Unlike other FM transmitters though, you can remove the X5 from the charging base and clip it to your sun visor, similar to the visor-style Bluetooth car kits. This makes it less obtrusive, but the visor clip isn't removable, and this makes for an awkward look when it's on the charger.

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Summary

The GOgroove FlexSMART X5 tries to appeal to all three types of Bluetooth car kits by being an FM transmitter, an AUX-in Bluetooth adapter and a visor-style hands-free speakerphone. However, it doesn't excel in any of these scenarios. The unwieldy design may be easy to use, but it's has too much potential to get in the way and it looks awkward when it's not clipped to your visor.

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