- Performs as promised
- Compact, efficient design
- Excellent sound quality
- No USB extension cable
- Inconsistent Bluetooth reconnection
- No passcode needed, always searching
Many cars these days come equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, but even vehicles from a few years ago might not. The audio system in my 2012 Nissan Rogue has Bluetooth, but its functionality is limited only to handsfree calling. I can't stream music from my phone to my car's stereo. And the Tunai Firefly Bluetooth Receiver was designed to address this very problem, while simultaneously providing a wireless audio solution for anywhere you find a conventional aux-in port. It's just so simple.
Choose Your Bluetooth Bundle
The primary unit for the Tunai Firefly, extended to the North American market earlier this month, consists of two main parts. On the one end, you have something that looks like a tiny USB flash drive. Its total length is about about three times the USB connector itself. Jutting out the other end is a short cable, terminating in a conventional 3.5mm audio connector.
The idea here is that the unit draws power from USB and acts as a Bluetooth receiver, channeling the audio it receives through the 3.5mm connector to your stereo of choice. This is the ideal stop-gap measure for folks in my position who want to enjoy Bluetooth audio in their cars or just about anywhere else. In effect, it turns any stereo into a Bluetooth speaker.
Tunai offers three different bundles for the Firefly. The "Premium Pack" shown here includes an auxiliary extension cable and an RCA conversion cable, the latter to allow compatibility with a variety of home stereos, home theaters, and other similar audio setups. There's also a "Car Pack" that comes with a 12V USB adapter and a "Home Pack" with just the aux to AV/RCA conversion cable. As far as colors, in addition to the "Shadow Black" version shown here, the Tunai Firefly also ships in your choice of "Fire Red" or "Sunrise Gold."
Setting Up the Tunai Firefly
For the purposes of this review, I paired the Tunai Firefly with an unlocked ZTE Axon Pro smartphone. The unit can remember up to 8 paired devices and it can connect to multiple devices at the same time for what might be called a "party" mode.
This configuration for connection is both a blessing and a curse. In effect, the Firefly is constantly searching for new devices with which to connect and you do not need to enter a passcode. That makes it convenient, but the lack of security means that anyone within range can access your Tunai Firefly too.
An Easy Car Audio Solution?
In practice, my experience with the Tunai Firefly has been remarkably positive. The initial pairing literally only took a few seconds. The audio quality I enjoyed through my car's stereo is decidedly better than when I was using an auxiliary cable, as the latter could get finicky with electrical interference or with a not-quite-perfect connection to the aux-in jack in the car.
The physical Firefly unit can feel a little cheap and plasticky, but you'll generally plug it in once and never touch it again. This was really convenient in my own vehicle, since the 12V and aux-in jacks are next to each other in the center console. Your mileage will vary, of course, and this solution won't work if you don't have an aux-in jack.
The other hiccup I encountered had to do with Tunai's promise that the Firefly would automatically reconnect to my phone. This proved to be inconsistent. Sometimes, I'd have to disable and re-enable the Bluetooth radio on my phone to force it to re-connect to the Firefly. Some may view this is a small quibble typical of Bluetooth connections. Others may find it too inconvenient.
MEGATechie Melodious Miracle or MEGATechie Wireless Woes?
It's only a matter of time before all of our cars have Bluetooth audio as standard equipment, even on more economical vehicles. In the interim, people like me need solutions like this to maximize our enjoyment. The Tunai Firefly largely delivers on its promises, offering a very convenient and reliable wireless audio solution. It connects quickly and plays flawlessly. It's not as robust as Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but it's not meant to be. And that's fine by me.
The "Premium Pack" as reviewed here is listed at $49.99, but it oftentimes sells for less. If you don't need the auxiliary extension cord and RCA conversion cable, you might opt for either the "Car Pack" or the "Home Pack" for about $10 to $15 less. That's not quite impulse buy territory, but it's certainly cheap enough for what it is able to do.