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Parrot DriveBlue Bluetooth Handsfree Car Kit

Posted June, 2004 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

Parrot, a Paris based company, specializes in voice-enabled mobile devices and accessories. Its latest offering, the DriveBlue Bluetooth car kit can turn your Bluetooth enable cell phone into a hands-free and headset free handset with either the push of a button or with voice features. The DriveBlue car kit cuts the cable clutter in your car and does not require any charging. On top of that, it doesn’t cost you a penny in the installation department.

Not much bigger than the Sony Ericsson P800 handset, the DriveBlue car kit comes in a stylish and compact form. It’s made of black hard plastic with a silver face cover, and a cigarette-lighter jack extends out at a ~45-degree angle. There is a large speaker grill on the front face of the car kit, along with a small LED, two large buttons for answering and ending calls and a smaller grill for the mic. There is a volume rocker on one side of the kit and an external mic connector on the other. DriveBlue does not need to be charged: all you need to do is to plug it into your cigarette lighter, start your car engine and it’s ready to go.

The DriveBlue card kit supports both Handsfree and Headset audio profiles, and provides various features that are enabled on specific phone models. Pairing via Bluetooth is fairly easy and quite similar on all the phones we’ve tested. When you plug the car kit in for the first time, it will tell you when it’s ready to pair. Once the pairing is successful, you are ready to use the DriveBlue.

There are two ways you can take an incoming call or make an outgoing call: use the green and red buttons on the DriveBlue and dial numbers on your phone, or use voice dialing and voice command features if your phone comes with these features. To initiate a call with the buttons on the DriveBlue, you will need to enter the phone number on your cell phone first, then hit the green button. To take an incoming call, all you need to do is to hit the green button and hit the red button to end a call. The green buttons also works as redialing (hold it down for 2 seconds to redial the last number), call waiting and transferring calls to the handset.

Voice dialing works flawlessly on all phones with the existing voice tags without training through DriveBlue’s voice recognition software. If your phone is set to answer automatically through headset or hands-free mode, the DriveBlue will pick up the phone automatically when there is an incoming call. Depending on the handset models you have, you can even use voice commands such as Answer, Dial, Hang up to initiate, end or answer phone calls without touching the phone or the car kit. If you have certain models of Sony Ericsson mobile phones such as the T610, you can sync with the DriveBlue, access the DriveBlue menu on your phone and turn on features like Caller ID.

The voice quality through the speaker is amazingly loud and clear. Use the volume control on your phone and on the car kit to adjust the speaker volume. The voice quality coming through the mic is pretty good as well, thanks to the Digital Signal Processor that cancels echo and reduces noise. Just in case you need better sound quality than what the built-in mic provides, Parrot bundles an external microphone with a long cord so that you can position this mic anywhere in your car. In our test, the sound quality incoming and outgoing was plenty good enough without the external mic. The only imperfection it has seems to be overzealous noise reduction: if the caller on the other end talks at the same time you are talking, the DriveBlue mutes the caller to give you the sound advantage.

Parrot DriveBlue

Above, the DriveBlue next to the Sony Ericsson P800. Below, the unit plugged into a car's cigarette lighter.

Parrot DriveBlue in car


Parrot not only builds the DriveBlue, but also develops the chipset and software updates. Since the car kit works with the feature sets in each Bluetooth cell phone, this is a very good news for users who might upgrade their phones. There is a long list of tested Bluetooth mobile phones on Parrot’s web site, which includes most of the cell phones you can buy on the US market.


Pro: For Bluetooth mobile phone owners who don’t want to get a professionally installed Bluetooth hands-free solution for their car or don’t want to pay the price, Parrot DriveBlue is a much cheaper and very useable alternative. If you change cars often or have multiple cars, this plug-and-play solution might just be the ideal set up. The Bluetooth pairing is easy and operations are simple. The voice recognition software really shines through voice dialing and voice command. The voice quality on the speaker phone is loud and clear. The voice quality through the mic is decent, and you have the option to use an external mic. Con: It doesn’t have a visual display, but for the price and no professional installation, this is the only set up you can get. The cigarette-light jack is at an angle that might not work conveniently for all cars depending on how much space you have in front of your cigarette lighter plug. The noise reduction seems to be over tuned to the point of considering the caller on the speaker as noise if you are talking at the same time.

The Parrot DriveBlue Bluetooth Car Kit is sold in electronic and wireless stores such as Best Buy, CompUSA, AT&T wireless stores, and soon will be sold at Fry’s and Magnolia Hi-Fi. Check DriveBlue web site for local retailers in your State.

Price: $99

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