What's hot:Very effective DSP, good voice quality, easy to use. FM transmitter is powerful.
What's not:No advanced call management features.
Review posted July 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
For mobile phone users who do a lot of DWT (drive while talking) having a Bluetooth car kit is essential for safety, convenience and compliance with some states’ laws. And having a car kit with an FM radio transmitter built-in is even better. Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry phones and software, will soon (likely July 2009) release a visor-mounted Bluetooth car kit. The BlackBerry VM-605 Bluetooth car kit has built-in Bluetooth v2.0 and supports Hands-Free and A2DP profiles. We tested the VM-605 with BlackBerry phones, the iPhone 3GS and Nokia phones, and found the Bluetooth stereo car kit has great voice quality, is easy to use and has very good FM transmitter performance. If you have a BlackBerry phone (or other Bluetooth phone) and are looking for a car kit, the VM605 is a great choice at $99.99 list.
The BlackBerry Visor Mount car kit is slim but it has a long body. The front panel doubles as call control and it’s easy to press as it’s quite large. The speaker grill lives below the control, and a line of LED indicators live above the call button. The mic is on the top of the BlackBerry VM605 and is closest to your face when you clip the car kit on your car’s visor. Since the BlackBerry car kit also has an FM transmitter, you will find the FM key on the left of the car kit (you can push it to turn on or off the FM transmitter) and volume keys on the right. The micro USB charging port lives on the right side as well just below the volume keys, and the BlackBerry VM-605 comes with a car charger. It takes about 2 hours to fully charge the car kit for the first time.
Call Features and Quality
The Visor Mount Speakerphone VM-605 has a built-in mic and speaker. You can use it for phone calls and for playing music as well since it supports A2DP. The BlackBerry Visor Mount is easy to set up and operate. To pair your phone with the VM605, press the front panel while the car kit is off until the Bluetooth connection LED flashes and the voice command message tells you “pairing mode”; then use your phone to search and pair with the BlackBerry Visor Mount using the default pass code “0000”. We paired the BlackBerry VM605 with several different brands of phones and the car kit paired easily with all.
The BlackBerry Visor Mount supports basic Hands-free features including last number dialing (double click the front panel), voice dialing (hold the front panel until you hear a beep), ignore calls and mute during a call. The call management features worked like a charm with BlackBerry phones and non-BlackBerry phones in our tests. The voice announcements can speak in English (UK and US), French, Italian, German, Spanish (Mexican and Spanish), Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese.
Voice quality was excellent on both incoming and outgoing ends via the BlackBerry Visor Mount. The VM605 has a very effective DSP, filtering out most road noise. It often did a better than phone’s DSP. Among the BlackBerry devices we tested, the BlackBerry Bold had the best voice quality on both voice ends with clear audio and very little background noise or audio distortion. The same can be said about our tests with the iPhone 3GS and the Nokia N97. The BlackBerry Visor Mount had excellent voice quality on both calling ends and the DSP worked very well at canceling out road noise even while we drove on a noisy cement-paved highway. The only thing to watch out for is that the car kit’s built-in mic isn’t super powerful. As long as you keep the car kit close to your face (clipped on the visor near your head) you should do fine.
FM Transmitter for Music, Audio Books, GPS and Video
No matter how good a car kit’s audio quality is, it usually can’t compete with your car’s multi-speaker audio system. Thanks to the built-in FM transmitter on the BlackBerry VM-605, you can enjoy that better audio quality provided by your car stereo system for phone calls, music playback, audio books, GPS navigation and even video playback (for your passenger). The FM transmitter on the BlackBerry Visor Mount has strong performance and is easy to use. When you turn on the FM transmitter (press the FM button on the left), the voice command tells you to tune your car’s FM radio to the 107.7 frequency, and voilà, you can hear your phone calls through your car speakers. If that station doesn’t work well in your area, you can press the car kit’s vol up/down buttons to change frequencies (the kit will announce the newly selected frequency number). Music playback sounds clear and loud with good bass. We tested some Audible audio books on the iPhone 3GS, and we loved the audio quality and volume. The BlackBerry VM605 also broadcasts RDS info and most newer cars will be able to display the car kit info on the dash display. We also compared the BlackBerry VM605’s FM transmitter performance to some mobiles’ built-in FM transmitter, like the Nokia N97, and found the BlackBerry car kit had a more powerful transmitter with virtually no interference and very little static.
The BlackBerry Visor Mount VM-605 has a rechargeable battery that can last up to 13 hours of talk time. The car kit actually turns itself off (not sleep) after long period of inactivity. It comes with only an in-vehicle charger though when the Bluetooth car kit is charged you can take it with you anywhere. When the battery is running low, the LED light on the top of the front panel will flash red and after charging is complete the LED will flash green.
The BlackBerry VM605 Visor Mount is one of the best car kits we’ve seen on the market. It worked well with most phones we tested, and it certainly worked well with BlackBerry smartphones. The DSP is very effective and voice quality is great across the board. The FM transmitter is a big plus for providing even better audio quality, volume and ease of use. The car kit is easy to set up and easy to use, and the text-to-speech feature gives good feedback and prompts actions at the right time. For most mobile users the BlackBerry Visor Mount’s call management features will suffice, though it lacks some advanced call management controls such as call waiting and conference call. The BlackBerry VM-605 comes only with a car charger, but if you have a BlackBerry with the micro-USB blade charging port (like the BlackBerry Curve 8900 and the BlackBerry Storm,), you can use the phone’s AC charger with the car kit should you need to charge it outside your vehicle.