HOTT CD903TF for cars without CD players (Week 38, 2021)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 38, 2021

Q. I bought a 2020 Toyota Camry last year and was disappointed to find there was no CD player. I miss it terribly, and someone suggested I buy a portable CD player and connect it to the AUX port in the car. Guess what? There is no AUX port. I don’t want to listen on headphones, so is there a way I can connect a portable CD player to the car speakers? Please advise me what I should do, or buy. I was told I need a Bluetooth (whatever that is) compatible device, but I am not the most tech savvy woman in town and do not know what that is.

-P.C., San Francisco, CA

A. First of all, it would be dangerous to drive wearing headphones so anyone reading this, please do not do so! Fortunately we can get your CDs playing in your car so you can hear them from your car speakers.

Bluetooth is a wireless system used to connect phones, tablets and media players to speakers, headphones, audio receivers, and in your case, a car. (This is a very high-level description, and the capabilities go beyond that but for the purpose of answering your question it is all the detail we need.) Using a Bluetooth connection allows you to make and receive phone calls hands-free as well as play music from your phone, or any other player with a Bluetooth transmitter.

The problem of playing CDs in a car without a CD player is a vexing one, and I get questions about this quite frequently. I recently found a product that should make everyone looking to play CDs in their car very happy. The $103 HOTT CD903TF portable CD player is designed especially for automotive use. It has built-in Bluetooth as well as an FM transmitter to play CDs over your car audio system. It has a rechargeable battery and can be powered by your car’s USB port.

Once the CD player is in your car, you pair (connect) it to the car via Bluetooth and it will play CDs over the car’s audio system. I was unable to determine if the 2020 Camry will allow you to connect two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, so if it only allows you to connect one device at a time you will be unable to make hands-free calls with your phone while using the CD player. This is where the FM transmitter comes in.

The CD903TF can also transmit the audio from the CD player over FM so you can tune it on your car radio. Just set the CD903TF to a frequency that is unused in your area, set the radio to the same frequency and you will be able to hear the CDs over the car stereo through the radio tuner. This is likely to have lower sound quality than Bluetooth but may be the only option available if you want to listen to music and have phone functionality at the same time.

If you are not tech-savvy I suggest you go back to the dealership and ask them to help you. Pairing is pretty easy and I think you could probably figure it out using the prompts from the car’s display, but having someone help you may take away that anxiety. Besides, the salesmen there may appreciate knowing there is a way their customers can play their CDs in a brand-new Toyota lacking a CD player. You can help spread the word!

The Hott CD903TF is $103 on Amazon and there is currently an 18% off checkbox coupon.