Motorola Roadster Bluetooth hands free car kit review

The Motorola Roadster Bluetooth hands free car kit is one of the smallest on the market, with one of the best feature sets.

Times are changing – and it is no longer socially (or legally) acceptable to be driving around with your phone in one hand and your steering wheel in the other. Sure, not all cities or states have introduced legal measures to ban the use of your phone without a hands free unit or headset, but there is no denying that it is much safer to use some basic technology.

The basics are all there in the Roadster – it’ll do hands free calls, incoming caller announcement and features a smart power management system and multi-point connections (which let you connect to more than one phone at a time). The Roadster comes with a MicroUSB charger cord, and since most phones also feature this connector, you can consider that a decent bonus.

As soon as you turn the Roadster on, it plays a pleasant little tune, and a female voice walks you through the paring process. Once paired, the voice will announce the name of the paired phone each time you activate it.

Controls are simple – a sliding power switch on the side means you don’t need to fiddle around with buttons to turn it on. Volume and music is controlled with buttons on the rear, and a call control/mute button lineup is on the front.

Calls sound fantastic – thanks to active echo cancellation and dual microphones with noise cancellation. If you pair the Roadster to a phone with the Motospeak software, you’ll even have access to text message dictation (as found on some of their other Bluetooth products). Volume is more than sufficient, even if you drive around in a noisy car or with the window open.

Now for the fun part – the Roadster can transmit its speaker to an FM frequency. This means you can use your car stereo speakers to listen to phone calls. The FM is extremely powerful, and even when set to a frequency close to an active station, there was almost no interference.

The unit clips to your visor and stays in place quite nicely. Because of the curved front, the control buttons are always in reach.

Best of all, the Roadster also lets you stream stereo Bluetooth music to the unit or the FM transmitter. With this, you can get in a (rental) car, stream your tunes to the Roadster and broadcast them to the car stereo speakers.

Battery life is an impressive 20 hours of talk time or 3 weeks of standby. You do not need to turn the unit off each time you leave your car either – as soon as it detects a lack of Bluetooth phones in range, it’ll go into standby mode. Enter your car, and it turns on again.

The Roadster is available directly from Motorola ($99.99 + 10% discount) or from ($64.88).

Product review – BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Bluetooth handsfree carkit

In this product review I’m going to review the BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Bluetooth carkit. This portable handsfree carkit connects to your phone using Bluetooth, so naturally you’ll only be able to use it if your phone has this feature (most do nowadays).

The carkit itself is very compact and has just 4 buttons; on/pickup, off/hangup and 2 volume controls. I have to admit that most Bluetooth carkits I’ve tested in the past never impressed me much, they were usually tinny, did not go loud enough and were too basic for making a good quality phone call.

The Supertooth 3 is different in every possible way; calls are amazingly crisp, the volume goes up loud enough that you’ll be able to make a clear call with your windows open and you can have a conversation without the other party asking if you are trapped inside a barrel.

The device itself is very cleverly designed; on the back of the carkit are 2 very strong magnets which stick to the included sun visor clip, the smart people at BlueAnt have made it possible to stick the unit to the front and the back of this clip, which means it is possible to fold down your visor and still have access to the buttons. It’s a simple design feature, but one I’m very impressed with.
When the Supertooth 3 is turned on for the first time, you can select the language of its spoken commands. It goes through all the languages programmed in the device until you reach the one you understand (don’t worry, English is first).

These spoken commands actually announce an incoming call, which brings me to the most powerful feature of the Supertooth 3; Text To Speech. Once you have “paired” your Bluetooth phone with the device, you can transfer your address book to it.

With this address book stored in the carkit, you’ll get spoken announcements of the caller name! The unit even has voice recognition for answering phone calls completely hands free. Initially I set the device to “American English”, but quickly changed it to “British English” as the lady in that voice just sounds more friendly.

There is actually one other feature built into the Supertooth 3 that I have never seen before in any other portable carkit; a vibration sensor. This sensor detects whether the car is moving, and turns the unit off if it thinks you have stopped. This means that you don’t have to reach for the power button every time you get in or out of your car. In everyday use, this feature worked brilliantly. It would turn the carkit off about 5 minutes after turning the car off, and the unit would turn on the moment someone gets in the car.

The Supertooth 3 has an internal Lithium-Ion battery pack. In my review I’ve managed to get about 2 weeks of use out of a full battery with about 30 minutes of calls a day.

I tested the Supertooth 3 with a variety of phones, and none of them had any issues pairing with the carkit. I did notice that some phones (Windows powered devices) do not support address book transfers, but that is a missing feature of the phone, not the Supertooth 3.

Included in the box of the Supertooth 3 is the device itself, a car charger, an AC charger and 2 visor clips. The Supertooth 3 has a regular MiniUSB port, so you can even use your computer to charge it if you carry your own MiniUSB cable.

After several weeks with the Supertoth 3 I have to say I’m very impressed, it has completely changed my view of Bluetooth carkits. With several states completely banning the use of your phone without a handsfree device, it is the perfect little product for using in a rental car, but would work equally well as a handsfree phone in your hotel room. The microphone is so sensitive that it would even function perfectly as a conference phone if you need to make an emergency call back to the office with several people at a table.

The MSRP of the Supertooth 3 is $129.99, but retailers like Newegg have it in stock for just $78.99. The Supertooth 3 comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty.