Bluetooth Car Accessory Review: SuperTooth Buddy

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I recently spent a week driving my father-in-law’s late-model Acura TL. I loved the power but the thing that really impressed me was the integrated Bluetooth. No, it wasn’t anything that you cannot find in most cars today but the combination of a super quiet ride and state-of-the-art Bluetooth was impressive for me as the not-so-proud driver of a 2003 Subaru Outback. The ability to get into the car and immediately have my phone re-pair with it was awesome. Even better was being able to seamlessly stream audio form the iPhone through the car’s audio system. I went back to my stripped down Subaru begrudgingly. The only positive was the fact that I had a few after-market Bluetooth speakerphones to review and the Subaru gave me a chance to do just that.

First up was the Supertooth Buddy speakerphone. I reviewed the company’s Disco Bluetooth speaker back in April and was impressed!(You can get one at a nice discount through our New Gear Daily Amazon Affiliate Store.) The sound coming from it was so impressive that I was anxious to see what their automobile products offered. The Buddy is their simplest, low-end speakerphone and it extended my favorable experience with the company.

Let’s take a look.

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From the Amazon Product Page:

Introducing the SuperTooth Buddy, a Bluetooth hands-free car kit requiring no installation – just clip it on your sun visor! Buddy is compact yet feature rich, with full automatic pairing. You can even use up to two mobile phones simultaneously– and when returning to your vehicle, Buddy will automatically re-connect to your mobile phone. With 20 hours of talk time and 40 days of stand-by time you can count on Buddy for important calls. You will enjoy echo and noise-free conversations due to a powerful speaker and DSP technology. Other features include: Volume Control, Call waiting and Last call redial, Voice recognition dialing (with supporting mobile phones). You can drive safe and un-distracted with your new Buddy!

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The Buddy is pretty much the epitome of simplicity; at least on the outside. The system ships with the Buddy, a USB charging cable and a car power adapter. It also includes an instruction pamphlet and information on how to get one month of Dial2Do service for free. (Dial2Do lets you send emails and texts by voice.)

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The speakerphone itself is just 6″ by 2″. It is, by far, the smallest speakerphone I have seen in recent years. It features a “quick clip-on for sun visor”, and offers multipoint pairing to 2 phones simultaneously. In addition it offers last call redial, reject incoming call and voice recognition dialing if the phone supports it.

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The Buddy has some of the key technology features that makes using Bluetooth speakerphones far easier today than it was just a few years ago. It offers full auto-pairing so that you can be up and running in no time, auto-connect so that your phone reconnects automatically when in range, multi-point pairing so it can connect and work with 2 phones simultaneously and the ability to grab it off the magnetic visor clip and bring it with you into another car or into the office.

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The Buddy takes just 3 hours to charge, offers 20 hours of talk time and an impressive 1000 hours of stand-by time. That means you can simply charge it and forget it for days at a time, leaving it on and relying on the auto-reconnect feature each time you reenter your car.

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In my use of the Buddy I found the sound quality to be quite good thanks to the DSP, echo cancellation that is built into it. Yes, the SuperTooth Buddy doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the other speakerphones we have seen recently but it does pack some excellent technology into a small form-factor that give exceptionally long stand-by time.

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The simplicity of the Buddy is, for me, both compelling and problematic at one and the same time. On the one hand, the speakerphone has an MSRP of under $60 and offers good voice quality in a package that is simple to set up and use. That is a great combination for someone like Elana who really needs to make use of a Bluetooth speakerphone whenever she is in the car and cannot be bothered with all sorts of complexity and hidden features. To be blunt, if she has to read the manual and fiddle around with settings she is just not going to use it. Don’t get me wrong, she COULD read the manual and set it up were it more complicated but she just can’t be bothered. She just wants the basics and the Buddy gives her exactly that.

The very reason the Buddy is great for Elana is the reason it is not as good for me. I’ve gotten used to speakerphones that have more features, do more by voice and, at times, require some fiddling around to get set up just right. I WANT voice commands and features that turn my speakerphone into more than just a… Well, a speakerphone. For example, I love Jabra’s new offering which does voice, streams music and much more. (Review coming shortly.) For me the Buddy is TOO basic.

In short, good speakerphone that improves in the iPhone 4 and Elana’s BlackBerry Bold speaker just enough to make it worthwhile. Perhaps most importantly, the Buddy makes it simple and practical to leave your smartphone out of when, and hence temptation, when driving. That is well worth the $60 price tag.

You can find information on the SuperTooth Buddy on the SuperTooth Web site. And while it has an MSRP of just under $60 you can get if for just $37.99 through our New Gear Daily Amazon Affiliate Store.

MSRP: $59.95

What I Like: Simple; small; great battery life; good sound quality

What Needs Improvement: May be too simple for some; sound quality is good but not great

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