In this video, I check out the Herilary C3 2-in-1 CarPlay Adapter, a kind of hybrid 2-in-1/Ai Box adapter for CarPlay systems.
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This C3 mini 2-in-1 adapter features the ability to offer both wireless CarPlay and Android Auto to a CarPlay-enabled factory system, and because it is built on a custom Android 8 closed platform this adapter also allows you to playback YouTube and Netflix content on your CarPlay display too.
In the box you get a paper instruction manual, there is the C3 adapter itself, and there is a single USB-A to USB-C cable to power the adapter – so vehicles with a USB-C CarPlay port will require a separate USB-C cable or adapter.
Features & Design
Looking over the adapter, it has a fairly simple black case design, with a rough stripe texture on the top. On one end of the dongle, there is a status light and a USB-C input port to power the dongle, and on the other side, there is a single SD card slot that’s used for updating the adapter’s system software and for playback of video and music files onto your CarPlay display. On the back and sides of the adapter, there are some ventilation holes for passive cooling of the chipset that’s inside the adapter.
I plugged this adapter into a number of CarPlay systems including both of my Pioneer 93DAB, Alpine aftermarket CarPlay systems and also the Carpuride and Coral Vision standalone CarPlay displays and they all ran fine, with the adapter restarting to transmit the optimal resolution for the display it is being plugged into.
Bootup & Main Menu Interface
Firing up the dongle for the first time gets you into its main menu in around 26 seconds. The main landing screen has a more modern panel menu interface that’s built on top of a closed custom Android 8 operating system. On the left side, there are two panels. The Top left panel features a simple media player for navigating content that is currently playing on the adapter. Below this is a larger panel that features four of the dongle’s key operations, from watching Netflix or YouTube videos, to launching Wireless CarPlay or Wireless Android Auto.
To the right, there is a single panel of six icons. The first top two icons are for any Bluetooth-connected devices to call and listen to Bluetooth music from the adapter. The next icon allows you to navigate and manage any locally stored files, plus any files that are stored on an inserted SD card. I wasn’t able to launch or install apps from here, only copy, cut and delete them.
The next row of three icons allows you to view video and music files from an inserted SD card and play them back through the adapter’s own video and audio media player. Selecting the Settings icon will show a custom settings menu to connect to a local Wi-Fi network or a Wi-Fi hotspot from your phone to browse and playback YouTube or Netflix online content. You can also change the main menu background and connect to or manage a Google account for accessing personalised YouTube content and updating the app.
Below these six icons, there are two buttons to access some support information and also go back to the system menu of your vehicle.
Along the top of the menu, there is an Android-based status bar that can also be pulled down whilst in any of the installed Android apps to go back to the home screen menu, navigate back within a running Android app, and also to view current running apps and either close them individually or close all apps to clear system memory and free up resources.
Wireless CarPlay & Android Auto
Connecting to either wireless CarPlay or Android Auto uses the Multiplay app. Pressing either icon launches the same app, so they could have just used one icon here on the main menu. Pairing my iPhone 13 Pro to the adapter’s Bluetooth and launching CarPlay took 15 seconds and considering this adapter’s mediocre Wi-Fi specs, touch input and feedback were fairly responsive. The common 1-2 second audio lag over Wi-Fi is still present here, but overall, wireless CarPlay behaved just fine on both my CarPlay display and my Pioneer 93DAB system. I ran it for a few hours and the adapter didn’t crash and its WiFi signal strength performed great over a 5m long distance. The default microphone quality sounded a little amplified from both the CarPlay display and the Pioneer microphone.
Connecting to wireless Android Auto on this adapter took 16 seconds. Like CarPlay everything ran as expected, with slightly less audio and input lag on this platform. Android Auto was responsive, again considering its low-end Wi-Fi specs. I tried calling between mobiles whilst connected to Android Auto and there was a 1-second call delay, which for me didn’t sound too disturbing.
Switching between the two Wi-Fi-required YouTube or Netflix apps and CarPlay or Android Auto felt much better than most, if not all other, Ai Boxes that I have reviewed. This is likely thanks to its closed Android system and being able to toggle Wi-Fi and Hotspot functions for either of these operations exclusively made swapping much more seamless.
YouTube & Netflix Apps
Being a closed system, there’s no way to launch and browse the Google Play store for newly installed apps. Core apps are hidden from view, whilst YouTube, Netflix and a file browser app are the only ones easily accessible from the main menu. Once online, both apps detected there were available updates for them, so I updated the YouTube app without any problems.
Both Netflix and YouTube ran surprisingly well enough on its rather low-end 8-core CPU running at 1.5Ghz. The menu UI of the particular YouTube app looks much better than some AI Box YouTube apps, with its side menu navigation instead of the full-screen tablet interface that’s on most other AI Boxes. I did encounter some performance issues on YouTube but I think this was mostly data performance rather than its inability to play the video smoother. Going back to the same spot on the video didn’t repeat the issue, and performing a few audio lag tests showed that the audio was in sync. Its low CPU/GPU does show itself when scrolling through the Netflix menus, but once you’ve selected and loaded your chosen video this adapter plays it back relatively well.
This C3 2-in-1 Adapter from Herilary retails for £115 directly from their store, and you can get a further 30% off using the coupon code 9FW8H. And you can check out the direct links to this adapter above so you can learn more about it and buy one.
The C3 adapter ticks many boxes in what most people want from a CarPlay wireless adapter. That it offers both wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, plus the ability to watch videos from YouTube, Netflix and from an SD card.
If this is all the functionality you seek, then the C3 manages this reasonably well, and all at a price that comes in much lower than most AI Boxes that offer more functionality but in a more complex and janky way.
Being built off a closed platform that’s running a version of Android from 2017, I do worry about how long these apps will be supported online. Currently, the Netflix app supports devices running from Android 7, so with the C3 built on Android 8, in time, the Netflix Android app may stop getting updates and connecting to their streaming services might end soon after. The YouTube app currently still supports Android 4.4, so this app has a much longer lifespan on this adapter.
I would say if you want just Android Auto on your CarPlay display, a more basic 2-in-1 adapter might be all you need, and if you really want to explore and download apps from the Google Play Store and run other alternative video streaming apps on your CarPlay display, then a more costly and open Ai Box much be a better option for you too.
This C3 is trying to position itself in both camps, and I do like this adapter’s simplicity in offering what most people want from a CarPlay adapter and bundling all this into a kind of hybrid 2-in-1, Ai Box adapter. I am sure we will see more 2in1 hybrids like this release in the future, and if you’re not that tech-savvy, the C3’s closed system keeps you from being overwhelmed with features and opportunities and just gives you all you need on an adapter and does it relatively well.
0:00 – Brief overview
0:30 – Unboxing
0:48 – Features & Design
1:20 – Boot up & main menu
3:54 – Wireless CarPlay
5:00 – Wireless Android Auto
6:13 – Netflix & YouTube on CarPlay
7:05 – My Impressions