Car Gizmos

Popular alternative to headsets for driving

Special to The Globe and Mail

You may not like wearing a Bluetooth headset, despite the privacy it gives you, which is why Bluetooth speakerphones continue to stay popular as an alternative. With nice designs and useful features, these three are some of the better ones available.

BlueAnt S4 speakerphone

BlueAnt S4

$119.99

Available at: Future Shop, Best Buy, The Source

The BlueAnt S4 works a lot like BlueAnt's headsets in that you can give it voice commands, and when you can't remember, you can say, "What can I say?" for it to speak out the list. It can also pair with two phones simultaneously, which could be good if you have both a work and personal phone.

BlueAnt also has a specific app that can read received e-mails and text messages out loud through the speaker from BlackBerry and Android phones. You can also do this using an app called Vlingo, except that only works with BlackBerry and Android (there is no similar functionality with the iPhone).

One problem is if you're using a phone that doesn't allow you to voice dial a number; you'll have to do it manually with your hand. The reason why is because the S4 doesn't have its own voice dialling feature to do the heavy lifting.

Jabra Cruiser

$79.99

Available at: Future Shop, Best Buy, The Source

Jabra's Cruiser works pretty much the same way as the other two units, though it has more in common with Motorola's T325. While it can speak out phone numbers of those calling, it can't do names, even those already on your contact list. Voice dialling is the same deal as the BlueAnt S4 - it will work so long as your phone offers that as a feature to begin with.

The built-in FM transmitter means you can stream the audio from your calls through your car's stereo system, or even music playing from the phone as well. The noise reduction inherent in the unit does a pretty good job of ensuring that background noise doesn't seep in, but callers will likely hear something when you're driving on a highway.

There's also no integration with any apps like the S4 offers, so reading e-mails and text messages isn't a feature the Cruiser offers.

Motorola T325

$79.99

Available at: Best Buy

The T325 has a nice speaker that will have no problem doing its job, though it seems to work better with smartphones than it does with basic handsets. Not sure why, or if it was just an isolated case.

One cool thing the T325 offers is an on/off feature; the unit will go to sleep when you leave the car, and come back to life when you open the door to get in. You'll know it's working because an audio message actually tells you so. The power slider needs to be set in the middle in order for this to work though, otherwise it just won't happen.

Aside from voicing caller ID, it also indicates battery level. But like the Jabra Cruiser, there is no audible text message or e-mail feature available, unless you find an application on your smartphone that might be able to do it.

What to put in your winter survival kit

A Sarnia police officer checks on stranded motorists on London Line, East of Sarnia, Ont., on Tuesday Dec. 14, 2010. Two military helicopters took to the air to try to help 300 people trapped in their vehicles by a snowstorm.
Better safe than sorry when driving through wicked weather

 

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