Review Posted Sept. 8, 2005 by Tong Zhang,
Parrot, a French company with a big
US presence, has been on the forefront of mobile Bluetooth
hands-free product development. Last year, we reviewed
the Parrot DriveBlue
Bluetooth Hands-free Car Kit.
This year, Parrot has released their new plug-and-drive
Bluetooth car kit: the Parrot EasyDrive Portable Bluetooth
Car Kit. The new car kit isn't just a simple update
from the last version, it improves audio quality, Bluetooth
implementation and added some nifty features such as
automatically re-connecting with your phone and very
accurate voice recognition software. If you are looking
for a Bluetooth hands-free car kit that works with
just about every phone, you should strongly consider
The Parrot EasyDrive car kit includes two pieces.
The speaker piece (2.28 x 2.28 x 4.33 inches)which
plugs into the cigarette lighter and powers the kit.
The speaker head is situated at a slight angle so
that you can position the face of the speaker at
the best direction. The keypad piece (1.77 x 0.55
x 2.36 inches) is much smaller than the speaker/power
piece. It has two large buttons which initiate and
end calls, a mic and a center multi-function knob
for volume control and changing languages for voice
commands. The two pieces in the car kit are connected
via a thin wire which has enough length to cover
the travel between the speaker and the keypad. You
can use the double sided tape to fix the keypad/mic
piece on the dashboard.
The EasyDrive Portable Bluetooth
Car Kit runs Bluetooth 1.1 and supports Headset
and Hands-free profiles as well OBEX and Object
push for synchronization and using voice command.
Parrot claims the car kit will absolutely pair
with any Bluetooth enabled phone on the market.
We tested it with a large collection of phones
including the Treo 650, the Samsung
i730, the Audiovox
PPC-6601 and many others, the car kit paired with
every phone effortlessly. The pairing process is
the easiest we've ever seen. When you plug in the
car kit for the first time while your car is on,
the kit will speak: "Please pair
device." Use your phone to find and connect
with the car kit using the default pass code "1234".
Once your phone and the kit are connected, you will
hear: "Pairing successful." Now you can
start using the hands-free solution. One of the best
features on the Parrot car kit is once your phone
is paired, each time you turn on your car and power
up the Parrot, it will seek your phone out and re-connect
with your phone. The re-connecting works very reliably
and the hand-off between the phone and the kit is
The EasyDrive integrates advanced DSP (Digital Signal
Processing) electronics and software specially adapted
to noisy conditions. The driver's voice, picked up
by the built-in microphone, is processed to remove
background noise and echo. The sound quality on both
incoming and outgoing calls is one of the best we've
heard on a car kit. The voice sounds sharp on most
of the phones we tested with and the volume is very
loud. The quality and volume on the outgoing voice
will vary depending on the phone you are using, while
the incoming voice is excellent cross the board.
All the phones we tested had good outgoing volume
except the Samsung i730, which itself tends to have
low outgoing call volume. The Bluetooth range is
quite good on the EasyDrive and should give you no
trouble if you keep the phone in a bag or suitcase
in the passenger seat or back seat.
The Parrot supports most advanced phone features
including call waiting, redialing (Hands-free profile),
auto answer calls, caller ID and mute during a call. You
can use the keypad buttons to take advantage of these features,
or you can use the voice recognition software for all the
basic and advanced features this car kit has to offer.
The voice recognition software works surprising well and
you can dial any number in your contacts database by speaking
the contact's name. If the contact has multiple numbers
stored in your database, you can tell the kit "home", "office", "mobile",
etc. to dial that number. If you want to perform all the
functions without ever having to touch the kit, you can
record "magic words" and train your call kit
to make calls, end calls and answer calls when spotting
these words. The EasyDrive will walk you through recording
and training process. The voice recognition can work with
other Western Languages such as French, Germany and Spanish.
To use the kit's voice dialing feature, you'll first use
Bluetooth and OBEX push to send your contacts to the kit
(it can hold up to 200 contacts). If you prefer you can
use your phone's voice command function rather than the
Like the last Parrot car kit, the EasyDrive
kit has a built-in car charger on the kit. The new car
kit is much smaller than the DriveBlue kit and it will
fit in more cars than the last generation. If you have
a super small car like the Toyota MR2 Spyder, you can still
use the EasyDrive kit with a trade off: you can't use the
cup holders any longer as the car kit blocks the slider.
Pro: One of the best and most advanced Bluetooth hands-free
car kit we've seen in recent years. The pair process is
automated and extremely easy. The connection and re-connection
work reliably and the voice hand-off between the phone
and the kit is very smooth. The voice quality is very good
thanks to the DSP technology and volume is loud enough
to overcome road noise. It supports the full set of phone
features including some advanced features. The voice recognition
software is excellent and provides some unique features
for hands-free mobile phone operations.
Con: Though small enough to fit in most cars, it would
have been better if the speaker had a flexible shaft or
movable joint to fit better in smaller cars.
Package contains the keypad, the speaker with a second
grill cover, installation accessories and a User's Guide.