Bluetooth Car Kit Review

 By
 

Why Purchase A Bluetooth Car Kit?

Are you living in a state that has recently passed a hands-free driving law? If so, you are definitely not alone. Eight states (Calif., Conn., Del., Md., N.J., N.Y., Ore. and Wash.), Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands all prohibit drivers from using any hand-held cell phone while driving. Seven of these eight states have primary enforcement for this hands-free ban, meaning that an officer can issue a citation for using a hand-held device even without any other traffic violations transpiring. Beyond just speaking on your phone, 30 states, D.C. and Guam have banned text messaging while driving, and 26 of these states have primary enforcement.

With accidents occurring frequently due to distraction caused by cell phone use (either talking or texting), states will continue to pass laws to enforce safe driving practices. And with heavy fines and possible injury on the line, drivers can no longer ignore the need to make the switch to a hands-free Bluetooth car kit.

These products fill an urgent and timely need. We have, through our research, found the top 10 Bluetooth kits for you to consider for professional and personal use. Due to their excellent feature list, phone compatibility, help and support options and ease of use, we suggest trying the Motorola 89556N Roadster 2, BlueAnt S4 and Motorola TX500.

If you have questions while researching, please visit the Learning Center to view additional articles on Bluetooth car kits.

When reading through the "What to Look For" section below, there are a few key elements to keep in mind to compare best Bluetooth kits.

  1. Unlike a Bluetooth headset that either attaches to your ear or can be worn like headphones, a Bluetooth car kit is an actual device that is attached to the driver's side visor with a metal clip or strong magnet. The devices range in size from fitting comfortably in the palm of your hand, to being roughly the length of your hand.
  2.  From the smartest of smartphones to the most basic cell phone models, a plethora of phones on the market today have Bluetooth capabilities. But, and this is a big but, just because your phone is equipped with Bluetooth, does not mean every fabulous feature advertised by the Bluetooth car kit will function correctly with your cell phone. Before purchasing any car kit, compare your cell phone's user manual to the Bluetooth car kit's manual, and create a checklist on paper of the features the cell phone and kit have in common. Think of this kit as an extension of your phone; if your phone does not have the features that the Bluetooth car kit advertises, such as text-to-speech, you will not magically have them with your Bluetooth car kit.

Bluetooth Car Kits: What to Look For

Compatibility
Phone compatibility is everything when finding the perfect Bluetooth kit for you. Our top three products have fantastic features like voice dialing, automatic phonebook synchronization and an FM transmitter. Our fifth-rated product, the BlueAnt S4, even has the option to access Bing 411. All of these features are wonderful, but may not be supported by your personal cell phone, thus making the list of extra features useless. Before purchasing any Bluetooth speakerphone, we suggest looking at your phone's user manual and comparing the features it says you have with the features listed for any Bluetooth car kit. Your phone MUST be compatible with any Bluetooth device you are purchasing, it is crucial.

Ease of Use
Nothing is more frustrating than purchasing a product that will supposedly make your life easier and discovering that you have no idea how to use it or it simply cannot be used. And, of course, this problem seems to be prevalent with electronic devices. The Bluetooth car kit is one electronic gadget that must be easy to use, as your hands need to be on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

A Bluetooth hands-free car kit should have automatic features such as: pairing of the device to your cell phone, voice activated commands and text-to-speech options. These features will improve your overall driving and talking experience and allow you to focus on the road ahead. Pay special attention to the products we've noted as having HFP (hands-free) profile. If your phone is compatible with this feature, these devices will provide a much more hands-free experience.

Features
When visiting the manufacture's website, a list of features will be prominently listed for each Bluetooth device. All of the features listed for the device are followed by an asterisk or two. If you scan down to the bottom of the page, you will see "contingent on phone." For example, if you purchase the BlueAnt 4, you are promised a long list of features, the best being the text-to-message feature that will read any incoming messages and then allow you to send a message back via voice only. This feature is fantastic and will provide drivers with total hands-free driving. The catch? Well, this feature is an application that must be downloaded from the Android Market and is compatible only with your BlackBerry or Android 2.x smartphones.

While in the process of searching for the best Bluetooth car kit, remember: Do not fall in love with features alone. If you see an amazing feature on the Bluetooth speakerphone, like auto caller ID, but your phone does not support it, then that feature on your car kit will not function for you.

Design
Although not crucial, the design of the Bluetooth speakerphone is something to consider. All of our top 10 Bluetooth car kits clip to the back of the driver's visor with metal clips or magnets for easy attachment. Because the Bluetooth kit is in your direct line of vision, you want to look for a device that is small enough not to be distracting or obtrusive while you drive. Other important design elements to consider include talk and standby time, operating range and the number of buttons on the device. For the Bluetooth kits we reviewed, the average talk time is between 14-20 hours and standby time around 20 days.

The operating range, according to many customer reviews we have read, is an issue. For example, if your cell phone is within 33 feet, then the Bluetooth device will answer the call instead of your phone. If you are on a call before you get out of the car and want to continue the conversation, it takes a while for the Bluetooth device to transfer that call to the cell phone due to the operating distance.

The number of buttons on the device and their placement can be important, especially if the Bluetooth car kit you are using is not totally hands free. We suggest looking at the placement of the buttons on the device and thinking about how easy they will be to access while driving in traffic. For instance, is the call and end call button placed strategically for easy access?

Help & Support
For some, using a car kit is the first experience with Bluetooth, so it is understandable that a five-page booklet of instructions is not enough to fully understand the Bluetooth process. Even for seasoned techies, something unexpected could go wrong or a question may need to be asked.

When reading our reviews or looking at the side by side comparison matrix, take note of those products who have a designated help and support phone number to call, a user manual (one that is more than five pages) and a quick start guide with step-by-step instructions for pairing the Bluetooth device to your phone. We appreciate those manufacturers who also have a live chat option, email support, a FAQs section and a forum where customers can discuss the problems they are having and possibly receive aid.

Most electronic splurges may be considered a want, but when it comes to a Bluetooth car kit and the laws that are enforcing hands-free driving, this purchase is definitely a need. Whether you are a business professional answering phone calls during your commute or a mom running errands and dropping kids off at school activities, having a Bluetooth car kit will not only provide convenience and focus, but it may literally be a life saver.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™

 
 
Electronics » Cell Phones » Bluetooth Car Kit Review
LIKE OUR REVIEWS? SUPPORT OUR SITE BY LIKING US ON FACEBOOK OR GOOGLE PLUS
Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Motorola Roadster 2 BlueAnt S4 Motorola TX500 Jabra CRUISER Motorola T325 Jabra CRUISER2 Parrot MINIKIT SLIM Jabra SP200 Motorola Roadster
Motorola Roadster 2 BlueAnt S4 Motorola TX500 Jabra CRUISER Motorola T325 Jabra CRUISER2 Parrot MINIKIT SLIM Jabra SP200 Motorola Roadster
Reviewer Comments Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Read Review
Lowest Price
Visit Motorola Roadster 2
$79.99
Visit BlueAnt S4
$69.99
Visit Motorola TX500
$39.99
Visit Jabra CRUISER
$59.99
Visit Motorola T325
$39.99
Visit Jabra CRUISER2
$51.11
Visit Parrot MINIKIT SLIM
$79.21
Visit Jabra SP200
$69.00
Visit Motorola Roadster
$69.99
Ratings
10.00
9.73
9.40
9.23
8.70
8.65
8.32
7.82
7.15
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
9.38
9.38
9.38
8.75
10.00
9.35
9.38
10.00
10.00
9.38
8.75
7.50
10.00
8.75
8.75
9.38
7.50
8.75
8.75
8.75
8.13
8.13
10.00
8.75
7.50
8.75
7.50
9.38
9.38
6.25
7.50
6.25
10.00
5.00
8.13
8.75
7.50
7.50
 
Control Features
FM Transmitter
  
 
  
Voice Prompts
Text-to-Speech
 
Energy Saver
 
Battery Indicator Light
 
 
Reject call
Echo/Noise Reduction
Various Languages
 
 
Toggle Between Two Calls
 
     
Auto Phone to Bluetooth Pairing
Auto Synchronize Phonebook
 
Phonebook
Microphone
 
Hear and Dictate Text Messages
      
Bing 411  
  
   
Design
Attach Function metal clips magnets metal clips metal clips metal clips metal clips metal clips metal clips metal clips
Length 3.5 inches 4.8 inches 4.5 inches 5 inches 3.3 inches 4.9 inches 4.3 inches 4.8 inches 3.5 inches
Width 2.8 inches 2.4 inches 2.4 inches 2.4 inches .55 inches 2.6 inches 2.4 inches 2.2 inches 2.8 inches
Height .56 inches .6 inches .59 inches .7 inches .9 inches .75 inches 1.1 inches .9 inches .6 inches
Weight 3.5 oz. 4 oz. 3.1 oz. 3 oz. 3.4 oz. 3 oz. 3 oz. 3 oz. 3 oz.
Talk Time 20 hours 20 hours 45 hours 14 hours 17 hours 14 hours 15 hours 10 hours 20 hours
Standby Time 21 days 29 days 6 months 13 days   20 days 20 days 23 days 21 days
Number of On-Device Buttons 7 4 5 4 4 5 3 3 7
33-foot Operating Range
20 ft.
Automatic On/Off
   
   
Manual On/Off
Help, Support and Setup
Forum
 
 
 
  
FAQ
Interactive Help/Live Chat
 
 
   
Phone
User Manual
 
Email
 
 
Quick Start Guide
 
 
Firmware Update
 
 
Warranty
Products and Accessories One Year One Year One Year One Year One Year One Year   One Year One Year
Product Registration
 
    
Included Car Charger
 
Included USB Cord  
 
Supported Profiles
A2DP
 
  
HFP