For almost as long as I can remember in Australia there has been a law against using "handheld battery operated devices" whilst driving. Whilst I have not fallen foul to this particular law, I have known a few who have. Seriously for the value of the fine and demerit points, getting some sort of hands free solution would be a far cheaper long term proposition not to mention general road safety. The Jabra SP700 Bluetooth Car Kit is an interesting and attractive alternative to the many bluetooth headset solutions in the market. With thanks to the ever helpful and generous Jabra team, DigitalReviews Network assesses how this gadget fares in the daily grind of this road warrior.
The Jabra SP700 is a flattish oval shaped "puck" with a clip perfect for the sun visor and serves double duty as a convenient desktop stand. The clip has sufficient tension to attach to the visor without leaving a scar on the material. With the unit secured to my visor it was unobtrusively out of my direct line of sight. The drawback of such a design however is when you use the visor to block the sun, not a problem that cannot be quickly resolved by reversing the position of the unit.
I must admit unboxing the unit left a good impression on me. In this day and age of cost reduction, the Jabra SP700 Bluetooth Car Kit arrives bundled with a car charger and an USB charger. Jabra is serious in giving some genuine flexibility for keeping the device powered up and working.
At the most basic level, the Jabra SP700 is no different than any standard bluetooth headset. Pairing is straightforward, made all the easier by the intuitive voice response. The device will speak "Pairing Mode" when it enters the pairing mode. Once a phone is connected at any time, the voice will speak "Connected". Other voice prompts include "Call ended", "Disconnected" and "Power off". It is clear and concise summary of the device status and does not require the user to take their eyes off the road.
There are very few buttons needed to control the Jabra SP700 in normal operations. The front of the device, being the large glossy panel, is the on/off switch which doubles as an answer and hang up switch. On the right hand side is the volume control switch. Nothing that requires a rocket scientist to operate. The Jabra SP700 features advanced DSP noise reduction and echo cancellation technology with claims of crystal clear sound quality for both the caller and the receiver.
Personally I find the unit to be a breeze to use, the call quality is great on both ends with the numerous conversations that I conduct most days in my car. The battery is rated for 14 hours of continuous talk time and an amazing 255 hours of standby. It certainly goes the distance even on my most hectic days. Best of all, the unit will power itself off after 10 minutes of no connection to a bluetooth device.
One can always tell when a manufacturer has put in a bit of thought into their product. In this case the Jabra SP700 has a myriad of features which rounds out the functions nicely.
Starting with the "little" enhancements, the SP700 supports voice dialing and redial last number (phone dependent), mute/un-mute, call transfer and night driving mode with the LEDs turned off.
A very nice additional feature that Jabra included in the SP700 is the integrated FM transmitter. By tuning your FM radio to the frequency set on the SP700 you can stream music stored on your mobile phone through the car stereo system. Getting this feature to work was a mild challenge, mainly to find a frequency that has the least interference. Naturally if your car stereo has a powerful tuner this could make the exercise even harder.
Catering for an international market, the unit supports the following languages: UK English, US English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Brazilian Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and Russian.
The Jabra SP700 is certainly a great little unit all round. There were a few disappointments though. Firstly given Jabra has been releasing multipoint technologies, this feature has not made it into the SP700. It would have been a nice feature to have given that I carry two phones but alas it was not to be.
Secondly the unit announces the incoming call by the phone number instead of the caller's name, irrespective whether the name is stored in your address book or not.
Lastly there is no voice control answering, it is strictly a manual process.
* Plays calls and music from your mobile phone on your car stereo via FM and Bluetooth transmission
* Voice announcements in 10 languages
* Auto-pairing to mobile phone
* Night driving mode
* Up to 14 hours continuous talk time
* Up to 255 hours standby
* Weight: 85 g (3 oz)
* Dimensions: 127 x 62 x 17 mm (L x W x D), 5.0 x 2.4 x 0.7 in
* Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP (phone dependent)
* Comes with USB charger, car charger and visor clip
* Firmware upgradeable via USB
The Jabra SP700 for me represents a departure from the traditional bluetooth earpiece I have been using to date. In a very short space of time I found myself quickly dependent on it and really enjoying not having to fumble for the earpiece and attaching it to my ear whilst I am driving. The call quality is great and the longevity of the battery life is a major bonus. Additionally I can recharge the unit on the go, whereas with a traditional earpiece charge time is down time.
The unit mounts discreetly to the visor, even at night I did not find the LEDs to be distracting. As always there were some gripes, none of which I believe seriously detracts from the useability of the device for the majority of users.
As a bit of icing on the cake, the Jabra SP700 is a stylish unit that is a nice change from the traditional boxy units. The Jabra SP700 is available for USD$89.95 (AUD$129 inc GST).