With the communications revolution in full swing and the massive popularity of mobile phones, it appears that everyone is now expected to be available to talk every minute of the day, and god help anyone that actually refuses to live like this. It is a sad state of affairs and the mobile phone is now something I am starting to wish was never invented.
Having recently started a new job I now find that I am out of the office more and more, which whilst I am comfortable with it, and actually enjoy the variety of locations, keeping in contact with the office is now expected. My boss is someone who loves the telecommunications world and will answer her mobile regardless of where she is, what she is doing or who she is talking to. There are times when we have been in mid-conversation and all of a sudden she pulls the phone out of her pocket and speaks to the person at the other end. Apart from being exceptionally rude I find it difficult to comprehend how anyone can be a slave to the phone. Unfortunately my boss thinks otherwise.
One of my pet hates is the use of mobile phones whilst driving. I think it is very dangerous and it makes me cringe every time I see a driver with a handset stuck to their ear, and it is a common sight. There have been numerous times my boss has called me whilst driving between the office and the client's and I have not answered. I simply refuse to jeopardise my clean license and get a fine, which I will have to settle, whilst on firm business and we have come to loggerheads on quite a few occasions because of this.
Many new cars have built in hands free kits that are used using blue tooth technology. If, like mine, your vehicle is too old or not of a high enough spec to have this feature then there are ways around it including blue tooth headphones and blue tooth speakers that you attach to your clothing or to the car.
My boss was adamant that we were all to have the ability to talk and drive so we were given an allowance to buy a solution. We were advanced a whole £20. Such a low amount doesn't go too far in the world of technology so our options were limited to a blue tooth headset or a very cheap speaker system.
Personally, I think the headsets are not only uncomfortable to wear but they also look ridiculous and there was no way I was going to use one. If I wanted to wear a head set then I would have got a job in a call centre somewhere. The only alternative was the speaker system.
Whilst in Tesco I stumbled across their own branded blue tooth visor speaker for a bargain £19.99, which came in under budget.
****In the box****
In the box there is:
i) The unit itself
ii) An in car charger
The unit does not come with a mains charger, but then for £20 (and for blue tooth technology) what do you expect? I am unsure if there is a mains charger available since the charger point is something I have never seen before.
I don't see the omission of a mains charger as being much of a problem, after all it is a product that is designed for sole use in the car, so as long as there is a car charger it is all good.
The unit measures 4.7cm x 1.75cm x 12.7cm and weighs a meagre 150g making it small, discreet and easily concealable behind the smallest of sun visors.
We live in a superficial world where looks are very important, and we quite often choose this over functionality and suitability. I did not have this luxury and to go for the latter regardless of how it looked.
That said, this piece of equipment isn't ugly or too out of place even though it does look cheap. It definitely can't be called stylish and it isn't something you'd have on show to 'boast' to your mates about. Good job it is hidden under the driver's sun visor then.
In this world you get what you pay for and this is definitely the case with this product. Value items are just that and in order to make them so cheap the manufacturers have to make allowances somewhere and this, as is the case with many value items, is in the quality of the materials used.
This unit does not feel that well made or durable. The plastic feels thin and quite fragile. If it was mistreated and subjected to some 'hard' then I don't think it would last that long. I have had no problems with mine but then I am aware of the quality and ensure I treat it carefully.
There is one advantage in using thinner plastic in that the unit is not that heavy. This is good since it is only a thin piece of Velcro that keeps the unit stuck to the sun visor and if the unit was any heavier then there would be doubts over whether the Velcro would be man enough to hold it securely in place.
****Mounting the unit****
This unit is designed to be stuck to the sun visor. Two Velcro strips are supplied. One is stuck to the sun visor and the other to the unit. It is very easy and takes a matter of seconds. There is no need to get an expert here.
As described above the Velcro is more than man enough to hold the unit firmly in palce.
In the world of blue tooth speakers this unit is right at the bottom of the pile in terms of price, quality and features.
Some blue tooth speakers have screens and controls allowing you to navigate through your phone book, MP3 files stored on your phone, photo files stored on your phone and any other feature your phone (or smart phone) has. These are the top end pieces of kit that cost a lot of money to buy and to install (since a fully qualified electrician is needed in most cases). The Tesco unit does not have any of these features since it is a no frills piece of kit.
This unit basically links to your phone and you can take a call, end a call and redial the last number. That is it, but is there anything else you really need to do whilst driving? I think that too many features just creates a larger distraction and there are so many bad drivers on the road already we do not need to create more with more distractions.
****Using the unit****
Using the unit is simple. It is so simple that the instruction manual (if you can call it that) is a few sentences long.
You simply pair the unit to your phone (the pairing process varies from mobile to mobile but it is easy with most mobiles) and then stick it on the sun visor. When you receive a call you simply pull the sun visor down and press the 'accept call' button and speak. At the end of the call you press the 'end call' button and the push the sun visor back up (unless it's sunny and you need it down, of course).
It should be noted that this unit can be paired with up to 7 different mobiles making it ideal for all the family to use (obviously not at the same time). This is a nice touch and I am surprised that such a cheap unit has this function.
The unit has an internal battery that appears to last forever when the unit is in standby mode. If you are constantly talking then the battery life will decrease substantially but the manufacturers suggest there is a talk time of 6 hours, which should be more than enough for even the most serial talkers.
There is unlimited talk time and standby time when the unit is plugged in to the cigarette lighter socket, but since you are going to have a cable running from the cigarette lighter to the sun visor keeping the unit on constant charge is not really practical as there is always a trailing cable that can get in the way.
The operating range is 10m so unless you drive an articulated lorry and keep your mobile right at the back of the trailer you are going to have no problems in leaving your phone anywhere in the vehicle. This is great since it means you can get rid of those unsightly mobile holders that stick to your wind screen (and impair your vision) or mounts to your dashboard.
****Sound and volume****
Being quite cheap I was worried about the sound quality (primarily distortion) and volume. After using the unit I was pleasantly surprised. There is little distortion from the person at the other end of the call, and provided you don't have the unit right up to your lips then I have been told that the users voice is not distorted.
The location of the unit, being on the sun visor, will help to ensure that you don't get too close to the speaker so there is little chance of distortion.
With regards to volume this is plenty loud enough and the person on the other end of the call can be heard easily provided there is little background noise. Obviously the radio will need to be turned down but then this is true of all blue tooth speakers, regardless of how much they cost, since no speaker will be effective if it has to compete against 100+ decibels of rap or house music.
After 3 months of use I can honestly say that I have had no problems with my unit whatsoever. Whilst I don't like being forced to talk whilst driving this product does make it a whole lot safer, as well as being totally legal.
If you want an all singing and all dancing hands free kit comprising of a screen (allowing you to navigate through your phone), full speaker system, satellite navigation and radio fader then this product is definitely not for you.
If you are looking for a quick, cheap and foolproof hands free blue tooth solution then this product is definitely worth a look. It has limited features and does exactly what it says on the tin in taking a call, ending a call and the ability to redial the last number.
The features may be basic, it may not look great (but then it is hidden behind the sun visor), it may not come with a mains charger (but then who needs one when it is going to live in the car), it may not be branded (Parrot are the market leaders) but then for £20 who cares? You are getting blue tooth technology at a bargain price and the only alternative is to wear one of those awful earpieces.
This speaker comes with a one-touch pairing button, last number redial, answer/end call button and has an opening range of 10m. The In Car Bluetooth speaker is suitable for any vehicle and can pair with up to 7 handsets.