spvc500, on Jan 13 2008, 11:11, said:
You've had the Venturi a while now, is it any good ? I've got a wred Belkin FM transmitter and the sound quailty is quite poor with a lot of interference and you have to re-tune as you drive about. I really hoped that the Venturi Mini would be the solution I've been looking for.
Sorry for not going back and doing this. It was close to Christmas when I took delivery of my new TV which rather led me astray, then I simply forgot !
So, what's the Venturi mini like? It's smaller than I thought it would be and build quality feels good. The display, being OLED, is very clear to read, even in sunlight. It doesn't update as quick as I'd like when moving through the menus, but you really only do that during setup, so it's not a problem in day to day use. There's a light sensor on the front which automatically dims the unit at night too.
The lighter plug is fixed to the body by a ratchet with 7 positions so you can angle it to suit. I'd make sure you have some clearance though, as we tried it in my friends Mercedes 'C' class where the socket is recessed behind a flap in the centre console, and it didn't really fit without a push and then only at 90 degrees. There is a locking ring on the plug too which is designed to be screwed in when the Venturi is in the socket. What this does is push out the 4 metal side contacts on the plug to grip the socket better. It works, but I found that if you wind it in all the way, it 'slips' off the thread making it tricky to grip it again and unwind. If anybody buys one, I suggest you do this once with it in your hand so you can see how far it can go before slipping, as it's really difficult to re-engage once in the socket.
Tuning is available on 4 presets across the whole FM band in 100KHz steps. In use, I've mainly used the one frequency on my travels, but I think that's in part, down to the radio in the car. I say this because, when I tried it on the same frequency but in my wife's car, I got interference and needed to retune.
The 4 buttons on the front face are flush with the display. They each only light up if there's a function you can do in the mode you're in. Also, the bottom 2 are dual function and show a different symbol and colour based on music or phone mode. Neat!
If you have a car that powers the lighter socket off with the ignition, then if the Venturi is left plugged in, it will switch on and pair to the last phone automatically. If your socket is always on, you can either switch is off manually by pressing and holding the right-side button, or just leave it so that when the bluetooth connection goes out of range, it switches off after a delay.
I couldn't get the phone book download to work with my MDA Vario II (WM6) or my SPV M3100 (WM5). I tried SAP and adding the JetWare handsfree extension software, but it still doesn't work. I haven't tried any other phones but I know the Hermes and some other WM devices are notoriously bad at this (Microsoft's Bluetooth stack). I remember reading that some car's (Audi?) built in bluetooth doesn't work with my phones unless you trick it into thinking the device type is a phone instead of a pocket PC. I'll have a play with this when I get time. It's a registry tweak I think.
In use, I switch it on and it pairs fine. The wireless stereo icon on the phone doesn't appear though, unless I press the left 'audio' key (which highlights the play/stop buttons) then press play. If I happened to be running media player prior to this, it would now start playing which I might not want it to do, if I was going to use a different player. Again, I think this is down to the phone, as once I did get it to pair and immediately show the wireless stereo icon.
Audio quality is fine for my needs. With music, yes, I can tell it's not a CD playing, but the quality is far better than my previous AudiaX FM transmitter which used to over-deviate causing it to 'clip' high frequencies. I mainly use it for listening to podcasts for which you'd be hard pressed to tell what source the sound was coming from. For telephone calls, the audio is what you'd expect from a cell phone and I'm told that I sound fine from the other end too. Incidentally, If you're listening to audio and a call comes in, it softly cuts the volume, pauses the track (if using media player) and allows you to take the call. When finished, it resumes playing. If you're using an audio player it can't control, it still mutes the sound, but can't pause it, so you will miss a bit of your music.
Another really cool feature with the Venturi is the RDS text display on your radio. Well, it would be cool if the display on my main car's stereo wasn't broken!!!
The device identifies itself as 'Venturi' when powered up. It shows 'Play' when playing a track and the number of the caller when the phone rings. It's supposed to show the name too, but since I can't get the phonebook to download, I'll just have to take their word for it.
I haven't mentioned the 3.5mm audio in and out jacks, or the USB socket (provides power for charging other devices). This is because I have no need and therefore haven't tried them. There's no reason to suspect they wouldn't work though.
So, do I think it's worth it and would I buy it again? Yes to both. Despite its problems with my Windows Mobile phones, it does what I want. Also, being someone who regularly drives different cars, it's portability comes in very handy. So, definitely a thumbs up from me!