Motorola has the multi-tasking commuter and soccer mom in mind with the Motorola Roadster Bluetooth car kit, designed to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The Motorola Roadster Bluetooth car kit has great advertised features such as MotoSpeak, streaming music through the FM stereo and answering or rejecting calls with voice commands. While these features are fantastic, their functionality depends 100 percent upon the functionality of your mobile phone. The number one advertised feature, MotoSpeak, is actually an application specifically designed only for BlackBerry 4.5+ devices and Android 2.1 or above.
The ability to stream music from your phone's iTunes library or even Pandora through the FM speakerphones is, again, totally dependent upon your phone's capabilities. If your phone does not have the ability to stream music, however, the Bluetooth kit will still be connected to the FM transmitter, allowing all incoming and outgoing calls to be heard.
On the Motorola Roadster's main product page, a Compatibility tab leads you to a page displaying a mere 13 products. Yes, this is a Motorola site so it makes sense to advertise only compatible Motorola phones, but we were disappointed to see only 13 phones displayed. The Roadster's Bluetooth car kit competitors' websites list all possible mobile phone brands and models that are compatible with the Bluetooth kit. Motorola, however, provides little information that will actually be useful to non-Motorola and Android phone users. The website claims that this Bluetooth kit is universally compatible, which may be true in order to access the most basic of functions, but for the more prominent features, this is not the case.
We tested the Motorola Roadster with a basic Samsung Sway and Apple 3G. The ease of use for each was very different, so we will discuss the functionalities accordingly.
Samsung Sway: Navigating to the Bluetooth menu on the phone, we selected option one "add new device." The phonebook was also instantly downloaded to the Roadster. Very simple pairing.
This device was ready to test. On the top right, the voice dial button (in the shape of a person) awaits a command. When you press the button a voice announces, "say a command." Choosing a contact from the phonebook, we accessed the call command and announced the name of the person we wanted to call. This function was also simple. The person on the other end, however, reported that an echo could be heard and our voice sounded as if coming from a tunnel.
Placing a call was simple, receiving a call was not. Because the Samsung Sway does not support voice commands, we had to touch the phone button in the middle of the Bluetooth device to accept the call. Every time (and we tried several times) a phone call was received, the Sway shut completely off. We are not sure why this occurred, but this was frustrating as we could only place calls, not receive them.
Apple 3G: The Bluetooth kit connected automatically with the Apple, downloading contacts instantly. Because the Apple 3G features voice commands, when calls were received, we could say "answer" or "ignore." The voice commands all worked, except for the "end call" command.
It's important to keep in mind that all the features of this device depend on your mobile phone's features.
MotoSpeak: "Now texting is as easy as talking." This application creates a true hands-free driving experience for users. MotoSpeak allows you to receive texts, have them read aloud to you and reply to that text all by using voice commands. This application is only in English.
FM transmitter: From your phone's music library, or Pandora station, you can stream music through the FM speakers via the Bluetooth car kit. The Motorola Roadster has dedicated music buttons located at the bottom of the device for easy music control. If you hear a song that does not sound familiar, use the voice command feature to access the song's song title and artist name.
Bing 411: Driving home from work? Access driving conditions to make the commute easier. Weather conditions, movie times and restaurant reservations can be accessed and made directly with your Bluetooth kit.
The black Bluetooth car kit is simplistic in design but has cleverly positioned call and music buttons for easy in-car access. The status indicator lights, however, are inconveniently positioned on the side of the device and are nearly impossible to see without taking the device off the visor or craning your neck to the right.
The Motorola website is a bit difficult to navigate when searching for specific product information. For example, we couldn't find the Roadster on the product page; we had to go to the Support tab, navigate to Bluetooth car kits and then again to the Roadster in order to access the quick-start guide. The guide is shorter than a regular user manual but has all the information needed. It was in the manual that we discovered a technical support phone number and email that was not located anywhere on the Roadster's main page. We are glad that these support options are available, but they would be more helpful if you could find them.
The Motorola Roadster Bluetooth car kit, if you are the owner of a BlackBerry or Android phone, could be a really great product as it offers the fantastic hands-free MotoSpeak application. If you are not the owner of one of these devices, however, be prepared for only basic Bluetooth functionalities.
The dedicated music buttons on the front of the device are great.
Phone compatibility with the Roadster is very limited.
Although the Roadster had great features, they were too phone dependent.