After coming to terms with the fact that I have to purchase some kind of hands-free device for the car, I weighed my options. Of course, you and I both know the majority of the gadgets work via Bluetooth—which can be a mystifying subject for some.
Bluetooth, named after a 10th century Danish king, is just a way for individual devices to communicate with each other, sending data or in this case, linking cell phones to headsets.
The headsets are obviously the most popular choice these days—how many times have you seen some dude in a gold chain strut down the street carrying an animated conversation with... himself? No matter how convenient, I just can't let myself become one of those guys—and then I'd also have to actually prepare for a phone call when I get into the car.
But then I heard about the portable Parrot MINIKIT, which basically works like a speakerphone that can clip to the visor (or what have you) of your vehicle. While speakerphones—especially the crappy speakerphone option on your cell—haven't exactly garnered the very best of reputations for voice quality, the Parrot actually extinguished any kind of negative connotations I had previously.
And actually, I was really surprised: I couldn't find anything wrong with the Parrot MINIKIT. And I tried. I really did. In fact, I'd recommend it to anybody not willing to be seen with a Bluetooth device lodged in their ear.
Coming in at a remarkable 3.7 ounces, the device is incredibly lightweight and small enough to be completely unintrusive while on the road. There are only three buttons on the Parrot, so it's hard to mess things up. One answers calls, one hangs them up and a knob in the center lets you pick and choose options and also adjust the volume level (essential for noisy highway commutes!). Simple, right?
But then came the daunting part: Connecting my cell phone to the Parrot MINIKIT. One glance at the manual and I had it up and running in no time. Within 20 minutes, I not only had my two devices connected, but I had also recorded several voice commands for super easy hands-free dialing.
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Clarity and noise pollution weren't even an issue: All my calls were as comprehensible as they would have been on a normal mobile phone call and the people on the other end didn't have any difficulties hearing me, either. Though, it is important to keep in mind that the Parrot MINIKIT is a speakerphone, after all—if you've got a loud, old car, it's probably not for you.
The best thing though, wasn't the clarity, simplicity, the voice-recognition dialing or even its 10-hour battery life. It was the fact that as soon as my cell came into the Parrot's range, the two automatically linked up without me having to take my cell out of my bag or purse.
Oh, and that whole not getting into a major car accident because I'm dialing my cell thing is a pretty big plus, too.
The Parrot Bluetooth Portable Speaker Minikit is available for purchase at Best Buy and Circuit City locations across the country, or just visit Amazon.com.