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STEERING WHEEL BLUETOOTH SPEAKERPHONE
STEERING WHEEL BLUETOOTH SPEAKERPHONE

Gizmos

Offbeat car speakerphones Add to ...

Bluetooth speakerphones are available in abundance, and they sometimes come in forms that are a little different than standard visor or windshield mounts. In these three cases, aesthetics and functionality are meant to work together in using other parts of the car - or your wrist - to keep you talking.

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STEERING WHEEL BLUETOOTH SPEAKERPHONE

  • $99.99 (U.S.)
  • Available at: Hammacher.com

While it first seemed to fit right in on the steering wheel, this Bluetooth speakerphone became a bit of an obstacle afterward. Mounting it at the top of the wheel hindered visibility to the odometer and gas gauge, and my hands kept knocking into it when making turns.

Sound wasn't an issue because its placement makes it ideal for conversing when the dual two-watt speakers are right in front of you, and your voice travels straight into the mic. The small LCD screen does an adequate job of showing callers' names or numbers, as it can store your contacts on its own when your phone supports the feature. A neat thing it offers is a list of the last 10 outgoing numbers, making it easy to place calls.

But the visibility of the unit is an obvious magnet for thieves, unlike the lower profile of Yada's rearview mirror.

HELIUM DIGITAL HDBT-990 WRISTBAND

  • $89.99
  • Available at: The Source

The Canadian-made Helium Wristband has a small microphone and speaker flanked by a rubberized strap with no latch, so it is one size fits all. Call quality is a bit hit or miss. Some I spoke to were able to hear me clearly, while others complained that I sounded tinny, even though the wristband's mic was at the same distance. Callers sounded fine on the speaker, even in a louder car.

Audible caller ID oddly required pressing the volume rocker first, but the wristband still took too long to recite the number. By the time it finished, callers almost hung up, and not having a screen to display the number didn't help matters.

It's great at notifying you of missed calls, lost connections and incoming text or e-mail through vibration and pings - except privacy becomes an issue when you want to take the conversation hands-free outside the car.

Yada Bluetooth Rearview Mirror

YADA BLUETOOTH REARVIEW MIRROR

  • $149.99
  • Available at: Canadian Tire

The biggest challenge with Yada's Bluetooth mirror is fastening it tight enough on to your existing rear-view mirror, using the clamps and velcro straps on the back, to keep it from jarring loose during bumpy rides.

Yada's mirror saves and stores your contact list (if your phone supports that), displaying caller ID on the mirror, which can be hard to read in daylight. Unfortunately, there is no option to change the colour of the text, only the contrast. In addition, the buttons aren't backlit for night-time, either. Direct and speed dialling with the mirror is pointless because of the distraction it causes when driving.

Still, call quality is superb on both ends, complementing the excellent battery life that gives more than 20 hours of talk time. On average, the unit would need to be charged about once a month, depending on call frequency and energy drain from heat or cold.

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