Hands-free doesn’t always have to mean using a headset, which some drivers might find more of a nuisance. For those who much prefer to snap a speakerphone onto the visor, these three offer the basics with a focus on offering clearer sound on both ends, albeit with mixed results.
- Available at: Supertooth.net, independent 12V retailers
Though it came out after the higher-end Supertooth HD, the Crystal is a cheaper alternative that aims to offer similar performance by bringing it down to basics. You won’t get voice recognition, text-to-speech or a solid amplifier, so consider this a pared-down version for the budget-conscious.
This shows pretty early on when it comes to how it works. Pairing it is simple, but once you start talking to people on it, the sound is tinny, and the noise-cancelling struggles to keep things clear when you have the window down or the A/C on full blast.
On the bright side, it has great battery life, and the magnetic clasp means you can take it with you, if you need to. You can also stream GPS turn-by-turn directions through it, while listening to music through the car stereo. When it works, the Crystal can be decent, but its limitations become fairly obvious as you go along.
- Available at: Amazon.ca, independent 12V retailers
The Minikit+ is the successor to the original Minikit speakerphone, and the added features here include better sound quality, A2DP streaming and noise reduction. This isn’t meant to be a premium speakerphone that offers voice recognition but does work well with voice assistants, like Siri and S Voice.
Sound quality on both ends is better than the Crystal, though callers knew right away that I was talking through a speaker. It’s a nice perk that the Minikit+ can remember pairing and address books for up to 10 different phones, so the device isn’t necessarily tied to just one driver. It also pairs with two of them simultaneously.
The wire frame that clips on to the visor comes off as a little cheap, but at least Parrot includes an elastic strap that can wrap on to it instead. But that’s not a big deal, in the grand scheme. As a solid speakerphone, the Minikit+ isn’t the most advanced, but isn’t overly basic, either, making for a good balance.
Motorola Roadster 2
- Available at: Apple Store, Apple Store online
This is easily the best Bluetooth speakerphone Motorola has come out with, even more so if you have an Android phone or BlackBerry. The My MotoSpeak app is designed to allow for the speakerphone to recognize and read incoming and outgoing text messages, while the Car Finder app keeps track of your car’s parking location.
These come off as a bit gimmicky at first, but their execution is actually better than might be expected. Accents and background noise may confuse the app a bit, but generally, it made fewer mistakes than other dedicated speech-to-text apps have. The integrated FM transmitter also means you can route calls to your car stereo by using an empty station.
Most importantly, however, is that the device actually performs well when it comes to actually talking and hearing. The two-watt speaker is loud enough to withstand noise, and the microphone does a great job of picking up your voice clearly.