June 23, 2012
Let’s face it, a Bluetooth device that won’t connect consistently is not very useful – especially when that device is in your car. With more and more states passing laws governing in-car cell phone usage, it is an even bigger issue. I’ve had my Toyota Camry with built-in Bluetooth for over 5 years now, and despite trying a larger number of devices, the connection problem has been the same – successful about 60% of the time. Thus I’ve come to the conclusion the problem is the car, not the phones.
I got a Jabra FREEWAY, ostensibly for my husband, who is notorious for not using any kind of headset. But after using it for about a month, I’m thinking that I may just keep it and get him another one, as I have never yet had it fail to connect when getting into my car.
This in-car Bluetooth system attaches to your car’s visor via a strong wire clip. After charging, I put it in my car and paired it. The pairing process was simple and worked perfectly. I even went through the process of un-pairing it on my phone and re-pairing it with the FREEWAY, and again, it was a simple 3-step process, unlike the one built into my car, which is about 8 steps and often doesn’t work the first time.
The FREEWAY has a motion sensor in it, and when it is not in use, it goes into a power-save mode, which, according to the documentation, will make it last up to 40 days between charges. I have yet to need to recharge mine, but my daily commute is very short, so it stays in stand-by more often than not. It does have a power switch, so if you are not going to use your car for an extended period, you can shut it all the way off.
When you get into the car and the FREEWAY senses movement, it powers on, connects, and a voice says, “Connected.” It has even connected a couple of times before I got in. The second day I used it, the FREEWAY connected as soon as I opened my door. It was actually a little creepy to hear a voice coming unexpectedly from my car!
The unit is small, but the sound is plenty loud from its 3 speakers. It is A2DP compliant as well, so it can stream music from your device. You can also connect it to your car’s stereo system via a built-in FM transmitter to stream through your car’s speakers. I did try this, but I wasn’t able to find a frequency where a station didn’t bleed through and interfere with the sound.
The unit will read your contacts, allowing you to “dial by name,” and it will announce the name of the caller on incoming calls. You can then answer or reject the call with your voice. It will also do voice dialing through the phone (if your phone supports it). I’ve used it in conjunction with S-Voice very successfully. Finally, it will connect to 2 phones at once, making it even more convenient.
The Jabra FREEWAY retails for $129, and comes with a free, one-year subscription to Voice Assist, an app that can be used with any mobile phone or IP-connected device. Voice Assist allows you to send emails and text messages, and post updates to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, using nothing but your voice. You can purchase the Jabra FREEWAY directly from Jabra, from many brick-and-mortar stores (including Best Buy) and from Amazon.