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Bluetooth Headset and Carkit Reviews

SouthWing NeoCar Bluetooth Hands-free Car Kit

Review posted May 4, 2005 by Carson Friday

SouthWing, a company based in Barcelona, specializes in Bluetooth headsets and hands-free car kits. Some folks may not recognize the SouthWing name - certainly this reviewer had not heard of SouthWing before receiving the NeoCar Kit to review. It's easy to be negatively biased toward unfamiliar brand names, but companies like Nextlink and Cardo prove that a company need not have a big name to make a very popular and well designed product. The same holds true for SouthWing. Having never heard of the brand before, I was a bit apprehensive about the quality and performance of the Neo Car Kit. However, I found that I was pleasantly surprised with the build quality and performance of the NeoCar kit.

The design of the NeoCar kit is very simple yet functional, and it will fit most vehicles' dashboard design with no problems. The NeoCar has a silver faceplate with a large rocker button for answering and disconnecting calls that also activates Bluetooth and initiates pairing. The right side of the NeoCar is home to the volume controls and microphone jack, and on the left side there is a small power switch. The NeoCar plugs directly into a 12v vehicle cigarette-lighter jack, so installation is a snap. The speaker is large and provides adequate volume for most vehicles. There is no built-in microphone, which would have been nice, as it would look a lot better without a small microphone plugged into the side of the unit. In addition to the small three inch "gooseneck" microphone, the NeoCar ships with another microphone that can be mounted up to five feet away from the unit, for better audio pickup and isolation from the speaker. The NeoCar's mounting arm plugs directly into the cigarette-lighter jack and has a joint that allows adjustments to be made in order to best fit the dashboard or console layout. A thoughtful feature that SouthWing included is a small power switch, which is a handy feature for vehicles with a power plug that is enabled even when the vehicle is not running.

The NeoCar has all the standard features one would expect in a plug-in Bluetooth hands-free kit. It supports full duplex operation in both hands-free and headset profiles, and supports voice dialing and last number redial. Worth mentioning is the inclusion of a DSP feature which helps cancel out background noise and reduce echoes in an effort to make the outbound audio much cleaner. One drawback of the NeoCar is that if the device loses power or is turned off, it must be "reconnected" before it can be used with the phone it was previously paired to. This is not a re-pairing and only takes a couple of seconds, but for cars where the power lead to the outlet is not always on, this means that it is necessary to use the Bluetooth button to reconnect the NeoCar to the phone every time the car is started.

The audio quality is exceptional in a well insulated vehicle, but in vehicles where a good amount of road noise is audible inside the cabin such as a convertible, the volume must be turned up to the maximum level, and the clarity of the call is degraded at such a high volume. It should be noted, however, that this is true for many hands-free car kits and not necessarily isolated to the SouthWing NeoCar. I tested the NeoCar in a couple different vehicles with both a Treo 650 and a Sony Ericsson T616 and it worked flawlessly in every scenario. Generally, I've found that Bluetooth performance on the Treo 650 is pretty poor, so I was very pleased at how well the NeoCar worked with the Treo 650, including call hand-off.

Overall, the NeoCar is an excellent unit at a great price. It's reasonably priced and it works very well right out of the box. It is easy to use, pairs without any problems, and performed well in many tests to both landline and mobile endpoints. It's a great accessory to complement your Bluetooth phone, as long as you don't have a convertible or monster truck!

 

NeoCar kit

Above: side view of the NeoCar with swivel joint bent downward. Below: the Audiovox SMT5600 Smartphone and the NeoCar.

Neocar kit and audiovox SMT5600

Pros: Good sounds quality, Well thought-out design, Simple to use, Affordable.

Cons: No internal mic, need to reconnect after NeoCar has been off.

In the Box: NeoCar, Short gooseneck mic, Remote mic with 5ft cord, Owner's manual.

Price: $75

Website: www.south-wing.com

 

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