One pleasure of a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone is its functionality in a car, using the audio system's speakers and a built-in microphone to make and receive calls, hands-free. Many carmakers offer Bluetooth connectivity built in, but that may cost hundreds of dollars, as can aftermarket kits that must be installed by professionals.
But there's an easier, cheaper way. I recently tried Easydrive, a $99.99 Bluetooth car kit by Parrot. Easydrive consists of a two-watt speaker attached to a cigarette-lighter adapter, and a keypad with built-in microphone, control buttons, and clickable scroll wheel that adjusts volume and navigates menus.
The mike's quality is enhanced by noise-cancellation and echo-reduction technology. Plus, the software provides voice activation and voice-recognition abilities. So you can initiate, answer, end, or reject calls with spoken commands — and dial using "voice tags" stored in your phone or in the unit. In my tests, Easydrive sometimes failed to respond to voice recognition. But when it did, call quality was quite good — and my hands were free to, you know, drive.
A version of this article appeared in the August 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.