I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned this before, but if not then I doubt it will come as a surprise to any of you: I don’t like wearing a headset when using my mobile phone. I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t yet found one that is so comfortable I can basically forget that I’m wearing it, or if it’s because I secretly think that most headsets look ridiculous. For whatever reason, I have resisted the siren song of the ear roach. But that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the convenience and safety of handsfree phone use.
I’ve reviewed several Bluetooth speaker devices that were specifically made to use in vehicles, but I can’t recall ever doing one that could also be used in the office. For that, I’ve generally relied upon my mobile’s speakerphone setting, if it had one. The problem is that phones can have vastly different audio capabilities; some you can carry a normal conversation over without TALKING LIKE THIS, and the other person won’t even be wise to the fact that you have them on speaker. On other phones, using the the audible setting will result in an immediate and indignant, “take me off the speakerphone!”
Oh, don’t act like you haven’t had someone say that to you!
The Spracht Aura Mobile BT is a device that says it is the “ultimate option for hands free communication.” Its “dual speaker system” is supposed to provide “crisp, clear audio, loud enough to use in a convertible, trade show, or just about anywhere.” Does it work as promised? Let’s find out…
But first we have to pull it out of the box. According to the Spracht site, the Aura Mobile is “easy to use right out of the box; no software installation is necessary. And all the accessories come with the unit, so there’s nothing extra to buy.”
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and saw all the various cables and charging attachments inside. Included are the Aura Mobile BT device, a car charger, a wall charger, a detachable clippy external microphone, a VoIP cable, a cordless phone cable, a user guide, a quick start guide, and a warranty card. Did you catch that? The Aura Mobile will not only work with your mobile phone, it will also facilitate voice calls over your cordless home phone or computer.
The Aura Mobile BT measures exactly 5.4″ long x 3.2″ wide x 0.9″ thick, and it weighs 6.2 ounces. Composed of matte silver and black plastic, the device will probably match 90% of the computers and mobile phones it will eventually be paired with. The oval shape is aesthetically pleasing, and the texture contrast between the smooth plastic and the perforated grille covering the dual speakers is nice. Being as slim as it is, the Aura Mobile BT can easily be carried in a gear bag’s pocket; and while I wouldn’t slide it into a pair of tight-fitting-jeans’ butt pocket, it could easily be slipped into a looser fitting item of clothing’s pocket.
- Bluetooth® version: 1.1 and 1.2 (or higher)
- Certifications: FCC, CE, IC, A-TICK
- Supported Profiles: Hands Free, Activating handset, Answer incoming call, Turn off handset
- Operating Range: Up to 33’ (10 m)
- Talk / Stand-By Time: 4 hrs / 24 hrs (Typical)
- Microphone: Noise canceling internal and external, 44 dB ± 4 dB sensitivity
- Speaker/Amplifier: Output Dual 1.5” (38 mm) speakers, output 95+ dB at 3 watts, maximum output into 4 ohms
- Operating Temperature: -20-50 degree C
- Storage: Temperature: -20-85 degree CElectrical Specifications
- Power: Internal battery, or power adapter, or car charger
- Charger Input: AC120V 60Hz/240 VAC 50Hz/12-24 VDC adapter
- Output: 6-12 VDC, 2.7W max
- Charge Time: 3 hours (typical)
- Microphone Sensitivity: 44 dB ± 4 dB 360 degree coverage
- Battery: Single Cell 1100 mAH Lithium ion rechargeable
- Optimal distance to microphone: 24” (60 cm)
- Connection Inputs: 2.5 mm for phone, computer; 2.5 mm for external microphone; 1.3 mm for power adapter
- Operating Mode: Full Duplex with noise and echo cancellation
At the top of the device are three indicator LEDs, and as you can see by their labels, they are as follows: blue or amber for Bluetooth, green for Status, and amber when charging; the amber LED goes dark when charging is complete.
Starting on the left side and working down are the Bluetooth Mode (pairing) button, the Microphone Mute button, the Power On / Off button, the Volume Down button, and Volume Up button. All are easily identifiable by their labels.
On the top there are three jacks: the DC power port, Line and External Microphone. After it’s first full charge (about 3 – 4 hours), the device will be ready to go.
On the bottom of the device, there is a built-in microphone and a finger-hold for releasing the visor clip.
The back of the Aura Mobile BT is actually the visor clip, and it has a printed quick start for those who never think to bring along the directions.
The Aura Mobile BT from the side…
…et voilà, the retractable visor clip is revealed.
There are quite a few things going on under the visor clip: towards the back is the 1100 mAH Li-ion rechargeable battery, and under the little door up front (which is quite obviously not meant to be easily opened – because yeah, I did it with great difficulty), is a circuitry board of some kind.
All right, enough about the hardware, let’s talk about setting it up and actually using the device!
To power the Aura Mobile BT on, you simply press and hold the power button. Once the tone sounds, you can release the button, and the Status LEd will flash green to show that the device is turned on. Activate Bluetooth on your mobile, and then press and hold the Bluetooth Mode button on the Aura Mobile BT until the BT LED flashes blue and amber to indicate that the device is in pairing mode. Once your mobile recognizes the other device, enter the key “0000” and check your mobile to make sure the pairing was successful…and you’re done.
You can connect to a cordless phone by plugging the cordless phone cable into the Line jack on the Aura Mobile BT and the headset jack on the cordless phone. You can also connect to your computer for VoIP calls, via either the included VoIP cable or Bluetooth, if your computer is so equipped. Bluetooth setup for computer is virtually the same as it is for a mobile phone.
Once you have the Aura Mobile BT connected, whichever way it is you’ll be making calls, operation is simple. To place a call, you dial the number on your phone or computer, and all audio will be handled by the Aura Mobile BT. Depending upon your mobile phone’s capabilities, you may or may not be able to accept calls by pressing the Mode button on the Aura; but if not, then it is simple enough to do it from the phone or computer.
The only caveat that I found, and it only occurred because I did check the device with every mobile phone I currently have, was that the Aura Mobile BT can only pair with one other Bluetooth device at a time. So for instance, if you and your spouse both want to use the same Aura Mobile BT with each of your mobile phones, you’ll just have to quickly run through the pairing steps each time you use the device after each other. The good news is that pairing is extremely quick and simple.
Volume is controlled by the Up and Down buttons on the right side of the device, and this is where the Aura Mobile BT really impressed me: that sucker is clear, and it is loud. But even better – there is no wait time in between voices talking (the obnoxious “walkie-talkie” effect), and there is no echo or hollow sound (the typical “fish in a barrel” effect).
Quite simply, talking over the Aura Mobile BT sounds amazingly good. It is an excellent conference tool when multiple people need to join in and hear the conversation; and it is an excellent hands free device when one person is typing away and answering business calls in their home office.
But here is where the device really shines – even in my ragtop Alfa I can clearly speak to, and hear, the other person on the line. What I do is clip the external microphone to my shirt collar and lay the Aura Mobile BT in between seats. In my ranch truck, which has a loud diesel engine – as well as stronger visors and more headroom – is clip both the Aura Mobile and the external microphone to the driver’s side visor; it works perfectly.
Both the internal and external microphones have built-in noise canceling, and while it wouldn’t be fair to say that the person on the other end of the line couldn’t hear the clatter of my truck’s diesel or wind noise in my car, they are still able to hear me clearly, as I am them. That’s really saying something.
I can highly recommend the Spracht Aura Mobile BT to anyone who is looking for a quality handsfree solution that will work both in the office and in their vehicle.
The Spracht Aura Mobile BT is available from the manufacturer.
What I Like: Easy to set up; easy to operate; excellent sound quality even in noisier environments; speakers are extremely loud; device is small and portable; can be used with computer VoIP, cordless phones, or BT mobile phones
What Needs Improvement: It would be nice if device did not require fresh pairing each time, when used with more than one mobile phone