When I’m barreling down the highway meeting and greeting folks, it can be a challenge (but NOT always safe) to call whoever is deserving of a return call at that moment. I have an iPhone that allows my fingers to flip through the spinning wheel of contacts, but dialing and driving are frowned upon. Some places even have laws against such behavior.
The other time tested alternative is to wear a Bluetooth earpiece. I have a favorite reviewed here, but in some places there are fashion laws displaying such behavior.
So what’s a road warrior to do? Kensington has introduced a Hands-Free Visor Car Kit for iPhone and Bluetooth phones that surprisingly fits the bill for those wanting to drive safely and enjoy quality chatter time.
Included in the Kensington Hands-Free Visor Car Kit for iPhone and Bluetooth phones:
Instruction guide, Car Kit unit, two rechargeable battery packs, USB charger and car charger with a USB power port,
The power button is on the right hand side above the press to click removable battery port. There are two batteries supplied.
On the bottom is a tension mounted wire clip that is one inch deep, 3 ½” long and 1 ¼” wide that easily has gripping power on any standard car visor. There is a Kensington branded cloth tag attached to the side.
There are no controls on the left hand side or when mounted on the visor, the driver’s right hand side.
The topside, which faces the driver, contains the microphone and volume slider.
The setup of the Kensington Hands-Free Visor Car Kit
The setup is very simple with no complicated sequence of buttons to program. Pressing the connect button will flash a blue LED light; red if the battery is low.. From there, an iPhone or any Bluetooth phone can be enabled to connect. Once the blue LED light holds steady, the phone is paired. The same button can be used to swap out up to three phones previously paired. This setup is ideal for me, as I use a company provided Blackberry Curve in addition to a personal iPhone. By pressing the swap button, disconnecting and connecting another phone is that easy.
There are three speed dial buttons that can house three numbers – one each – which is stored by pressing and holding the desired button when an incoming call is received.
At the top is a call button. Pressing the call button can be used to answer a call, disconnect a call or activate the call waiting feature.
Kensington advertises the following features and benefits with my comments.
• High-quality speaker for crystal-clear communication with noise canceling microphone and patented technology for clear voice transmission
Communication is quite good with no complaints from the person on the other end. Of course, when the windows are up and the radio is turned down, I’ve able to talk at length in a normal tone of voice. For soft takers, the speaker volume could use a boost.
• Three programmable speed-dial buttons store your frequently dialed numbers
I was originally hesitant about this feature, but in reality three numbers are all I really use on a consistent basis – home, spouse and work. I like reaching up and touching a speed dial button to activate a call.
• Up to 20 hours of talk time (10 hours per battery)
With the two rechargeable battery packs, I don’t have to bring the car kit inside for a recharge, nor is it necessary to run a long power cord from the visor down to the car power port. The battery life is quite good, although I have yet to test the claim of the full ten hours of talk time on one charge. One nice feature to conserve battery life is that the kit will automatically shut off after 15 minutes when a Bluetooth connection is lost.
The USB power port on the car charger can charge the battery with its included power adaptor and other devices using a separate charging cable such as an iPhone.
So how does it function? When I enter my car, I press the on button, the Bluetooth on the Kensington Car Kit flashes and immediately pairs with my iPhone like a ready servant for action. Should a call from one of my programmed number comes in, the corresponding programmed button blinks with a ring tone. I just press the button and the call commences. The Kensington Car Kit is simple to operate. Initially, I was struck by the list price of $119.99, but a good quality Bluetooth headset worth its salt will be competitive.
I’ve never considered how much safer it is to drive and talk using the Kensington Car Kit. Keeping my eyes focused on the road ahead while carrying on a conversation on a phone is just like talking to a passenger in the car. There’s no ear fatigue with wearing a Bluetooth ear piece, or fumbling with a setup. The Kensington Car Kit stays on the visor, just like a garage door opener. Not having to keep up with one more device in my pocket, or short battery life make the Kensington Car Kit more endearing to own.
Verdict? I like it; it works well, sound good and the big payoff? If you’re a chatterbox, keeping the vehicle between the lines just made barreling down the highway much safer.
MSRP: $119.99 available at Kensington and other retailers.
What I Like: The simple functionality, ease of use, sound quality and inherent safety factor.
What Needs Improvement: Increasing the loudness / volume on the speaker.