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Here in California, hands-free driving is the law. With that being said, trying to find the perfect solution is an uphill battle. If you don’t mind wires, a corded headset is probably best. However, most of us hate wires. Griffin is best known for their iPhone and iPad accessories; we’ve reviewed a few of those as well. We had a chance to try out their new SmartTalk Solar Bluetooth Speakerphone for the past week. Here is what we thought of it.
The speakerphone comes in a nice small package which can be owned from both sides. Once you slide out the contents, you’ll see the bluetooth speakerphone, vehicle USB charger, a microUSB cable and the manual. The manual recommends you charge the bluetooth speakerphone for at least 2 hours before use. Although you’re only equipped with a car charger, you can use the USB cable to charge from your computer or a wall adapter.
Pairing the speakerphone is simple. However, the instructions say it only works with iOS and Android. Once your phone is in pairing mode, hold down the button with the telephone icon for 5 seconds and it auto-connects. You’re going to want to remove the clear plastic cover on the solar panel so the light coming in will not be affected. To do that, remove the speakerphone from the holster. To install in your vehicle, simply place the speakerphone in the clear holster, place on your window and apply pressure on the suction cups. You want to place the speakerphone somewhere the sun can hit. The solar panel will do its job and keep the speakerphone charged so you never have to plug back into a charger. That is a great innovation. Another nice feature is you can pair the speakerphone with 2 devices.
Up until this point, the experience of the bluetooth speakerphone was impeccable. It is a well built device, easy to use, easy to install and has a great battery life. When I used it in the car, the only device I needed to keep charged was my phone. The speakerphone part, the most important feature was not so good. When the car wasn’t turned on or in motion, I could hear the call with no problem. I didn’t feel I needed to raise my voice whatsoever. Unfortunately, when I started to drive, I couldn’t hear the conversation unless I removed the speakerphone off the windshield and held it close to my ear. I am a 29 year old man with great hearing; the problem was not me. I attempted to raise the volume but it went as high as the phone’s bluetooth volume. As for the microphone, the other party heard a lot of wind noise even though all the windows were up and the cabinet air vents turned off.
Unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience recommend this speakerphone. Although it has some very nice features including the solar panel and ability to pair with 2 devices, it falls short where it counts. This is a speakerphone but is no louder than my phone’s own speakerphone. Also, even after I moved it closer to me, the other party could barely hear me over the ambient noise. Retail price for this is $69.99 and can be purchased here. Hopefully we’ll find a better speakerphone for you folks.