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Bluetooth Headset and Carkit Reviews

Parot EasyDrive Portable Bluetooth Car Kit

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Review Posted Sept. 8, 2005 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

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 this kit.

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 very smooth.

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.

 

Parrot EasyDrive in car

 

 

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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 EasyDrive's.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Price: $99

Web site: www.parrot.biz

 

 

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