Product Type: Parrot mobile phone accessories
Newest Review: ... and bought a different make and model with which I am more than happy (and it was cheaper than this Parrot device!). On the whole, I wou... more
What Good is Talking on a Parrot that Doesn't Answer?
Parrot Minikit Bluetooth Car Kit
Member Name: TheChocolateLady
Parrot Minikit Bluetooth Car Kit
Advantages: You can get several menu languages, and... um... it looks nice?
Disadvantages: Not great sound, complicated setup and connections, drops connection, and much more
First of all, this needs to be charged up for about 6-8 hours before you can use it. Since this plugs into the cigarette lighter plug in your car, this might not seem such a problem. However, you may be aware that when the car is off, so is the cigarette lighter. That means you'll need to find a way to plug this in elsewhere, for the initial charge. But this kit doesn't come with an external plug adapter. Luckily we had a cord that fit into its socket (one from our digital camera) that had a USB plug on the other end, which we attached to our computer. So only if you have a digital camera with the right size plug, can you charge this up on your computer or, if you have a USB plug that fits into the mains, you can use that. If not you'll need to plan for a very long drive with no Bluetooth connection, or find a different set. But you can be assured that if the battery gets low, it recharges very quickly, so that's not a problem.
Once the kit is charged up, you can easily install it in your car. Plug the one end into the lighter plug and the other into the set. Next you'll need to set it up so that it recognizes your phone (of course, it goes without saying you'll need a phone that supports Bluetooth, so I won't say that)! The instruction book gives you easy to follow steps for this, and this recognized all of our phones. Mind you, it will only take five phones, and if you fill it up and want to add another one, you'll need to reassign it. The problem is there's no way of knowing which phone it deletes when you add a new one. Another bug is that it doesn't seem to like Nokia phones. It won't recognize my daughter's fancy touch one, and when husband hooks up with his, it tends to cut off the connection after a few minutes, rendering it useless until you reconnect.
By the way, while the instruction book is good, once you're away from the pages, trying to adjust things on this is practically impossible. I'm always pressing the wrong thing and having things change on me. Now this could just be me, but I'm pretty technically adept, and if I can't get it straight, what will a technologic neophyte have to endure? One thing that keeps happening is I'm always accidentally changing the menu language from English to Hebrew (yes, you can choose from several languages with this, which is nice, I suppose). The whole setup and adjustment thing just isn't all that user-friendly, if you ask me.
I should mention that there seem to be more than one model of these, and that one has voice recognition and the ability to accept contacts from your phone. The one I got doesn't seem to have either of these options. I saw in the instructions about the voice recognition, but until I read another review here I didn't know there was any option for transferring your contacts to this kit. Both of these would have been really nice to have since it seems to defeat the purpose of being hands-free if you have to search for a phone number to call anyone. Mind you, after you've called someone it will remember that last number dialed and you can just press on one button to get it to redial, which works very well.
Speaking of making calls, I have to admit that I am willing to allow for the sound quality to be less than perfect. One cannot expect Bluetooth to sound as clear as a direct line. While using this with my phone, I can hear people very well. Unfortunately, sometimes when I call someone using my car, I can't hear them very well, and often there's an echo or distortion. This is far from being just "less than perfect" I'm afraid, and in many instances is unacceptably poor. And as for taking phone calls, I find you have to hit the answer button several times before it grabs the call from your phone. This bothers me because I'm always worried that I'll miss the call that's coming in. One good thing I've discovered is that if you have a clamshell type phone you can bypass this problem by just lifting the top of the phone up.
This brings me to the placement of the device. The cord here is a bit too tight and short for me to put this on the sun visor of my car. In any case, having a cord in front of my face is distracting to me. Instead, we clip ours onto the door of one of the compartments just below the air conditioning dials, so it is out of the way. Our car also happens to have an extra jack for car lighter devices, which means I don't have a lighter rolling around the car - but if you only have one of these, this might be inconvenient for you. Finally, it might have been nice if this also came with some sort of suction stand to put your phone onto, since otherwise you have your phone floating around the car as well. My son got one with his new phone, so that solved that for us, but it's truly a drawback of this model.
As someone who is very conscious that the law here in Israel says it is illegal to use your cell phone without a hands-free device, I really was hoping that this would do the trick for us. Unfortunately, we're not all that happy. While the battery, once initially charged, is good, and the sound quality for incoming calls is acceptable, practically everything else about this device has one problem or another. Because of this I'm giving it only two stars and cannot recommend this model. Maybe in my next car I'll get a built-in device, but in the meanwhile, better not try to get me while I'm driving, because I'm not sure this will work.
Davida Chazan © May 2010
In case you're still interested, Amazon sells this for £33.80 but if it doesn't work well, it certainly isn't worth even giving it to you for free!
Summary: The Parrot Minikit Bluetooth Car Kit is a great idea, but not a great product.