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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Compact size means it easily fits in more cars
Dual USB charging ports
Handsfree calling with built-in microphone
Viewing angle makes it hard to see
Extremely noisy when the audio is silent
The 5V/1A USB port charges very slow
The LIHAN LHFM1039 Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter is an extremely noisy device no matter what we tried. Although this transmitter worked as expected, it’s lacking in features and is hamstrung by a number of other issues.
The LIHAN Bluetooth FM Transmitter is a Bluetooth module for the 12V power outlet in your car that comes in a small package. If you have an older model car without Bluetooth, an FM transmitter can bring you into the modern age—but not all transmitters are created equal. Let’s take a closer look at the design, usability, audio quality, and features to see how well this little transmitter performs.
We tested this transmitter in a 2018 Toyota RAV4, which has two cigarette lighter inputs under the dash. Having a small form factor mean that the Lihan bluetooth FM transmitter fit well in our vehicle. It measures 5.12 x 1.81 x 2.76 inches and 1.76 ounces, with a face that’s a little larger than we expected; we’ve seen smaller transmitters, like the Aphaca BT69.
The Lihan transmitter has a larger button used for handsfree calling in the lower center, with a small LCD display just above it. To the left and right of the large button are two smaller next/last buttons. All the buttons feel good when pressed and are easy to get to. On the other hand, the display is really hard to see because it isn’t very bright and has really poor viewing angles.
Overall we found the design of the transmitter to be very average and unexceptional.
Above the display there are two USB charging ports rated at 5V/3.1A and 5V/1.0A. The 3.1A USB port is for charging only and the 1.0A USB port also takes USB flash drives with supported audio formats but charges extremely slow. We also found because our 12V power outlet is in the dash, when USB cables are plugged in they hang down over the display and buttons, making them difficult to see and get to.
On the top of the transmitter is a TF card port for MicroSD cards. Being on the top of the device and not the side meant we needed to remove it from the 12V power outlet to insert or remove a MicroSD card. It’s also the only port or button that isn’t on the face of the transmitter.
Overall we found the design of the transmitter to be very average and unexceptional. Nothing really stood out as good or bad. It’s not the best we’ve tested but it’s functional. We’ve seen worse, especially cramming too much on the front, causing a device to feel crowded like the Criar US-CP24.
This transmitter is really easy to set up, partially because of its dearth of special features. It’s almost plug and play, all you need to do is connect your bluetooth or plug in your MicroSD card or USB flash drive. After plugging it into our car’s 12V power outlet the display lights up and the device is ready to pair.
We looked for HY82 in our Bluetooth connection settings and had our phone connected in no time. This Lihan transmitter uses Bluetooth version 4.0 and can connect with older versions as well. The transmitter also paired back up with our phone quickly after turning the car off and then on again.
After pairing our phone, hands free calling was easy. If a call comes in you can press the big button with a phone icon on it to answer. Don’t want to talk to that person? Hold down the same button for a few seconds. Done with a call and want to hang up? You got it, press the big button. You can even call back the last number that called you or the last number you called by quickly pressing the button twice.
Using audio files on a USB flash drive or MicroSD card is also easy. As long as they are in a supported format, you can insert a USB flash drive or MicroSD card up to 32GB and use the next/last buttons to go to the next song or go back to the last song. This was one of those welcome instances where setup was a breeze, everything made sense, and it all just worked.
Even though the Lihan Bluetooth Car FM Transmitter has a decent design, it falls very short on audio quality. Generally with transmitters of this nature most static/white noise comes from ground loops or wireless interference. We noticed both prominently with this model.
Every other transmitter we’ve tested outperforms the Lihan.
When there is silence during a phone call you can hear buzzing, bleeps, and other interesting noises. That’s a thing some people can deal with or don’t even notice, but it drives us crazy. When trying to talk on the phone, we found it distracting to the point that we didn’t want to use call features at all.
Streaming music through Bluetooth from a USB stick or MicroSD card sounded good as long as the volume was high enough to overpower the noise level. This transmitter does use Bluetooth version 4.0 which is pretty recent.
The Lihan Bluetooth Car FM Transmitter averages between $17 and $20, placing it in the same price range as similar products. The Lihan does little to distinguish itself or stand out from similarly priced competitors. Even the packaging is simple and unappealing, with no indication of what’s inside except some small text on the back.
Lihan’s transmitter is average and generic at best. The amount of noise we got from our unit was just too much for us. It fails to stand up against less noisy transmitters, like the Nulaxy KM18 and Aphaca BT69. We don’t find the Lihan to be worth it, especially when you can find better options in the same price range.
The Criacr US-CP24 is another compact Bluetooth FM transmitter that is around the same size as the Lihan and has a similar user interface layout. The Criacr was another rather noisy unit but played some lossless audio formats like WAV and FLAC in addition to MP3 and WMA. The Criacr averages in the same price range and wasn’t as noisy as the Lihan (in fact, Lihan’s transmitter had the most noise issues of any transmitter we tested).
The Criacr US-CP24 definitely has its shortcomings and in that review we suggested the Aphaca BT69 instead, though the Aphaca is a little more expensive. Given the choice between the Lihan LHFM1039 and the Criacr US-CP24, the Criacr is a clear winner. We didn’t like the Criacr’s user interface design, but while it was noisy it never approached the noise levels of the Lihan. When a device’s main purpose is audio, the product with better sound is usually going to win.
Mediocre design meets poor sound.
The Lihan Bluetooth Car FM transmitter isn’t going to win any design awards, but its user interface layout looks okay. Where the transmitter completely fails is inferior ground loop and interference noise mitigation. Every other transmitter we’ve tested outperforms the Lihan on the same radio frequencies, using the same mobile phone and USB/MicroSD audio sources.