Having Bluetooth in your car is convenient if you’re going to be using your smartphone. But since there’s plenty of cars on the road that don’t have BT (and yes even new cars without this feature), a portable car speakerphone becomes pretty much a necessity. That’s especially true now that there are laws against holding a phone up to your ear while driving. There’s plenty of choices and plenty of features, but what a car speakerphone needs to do above all else is enable you to hear the person at the other end of the call, and for them to hear you just as well too. SuperTooth’s HD Voice does just that at the economical price of $89. And it even adds in a few tricks as well.
The HD Voice is a single unit with a large dial at the middle, a power button beneath it and a button beneath that for updating the phone book. The dial has multifunctional use; turn it one way or the other for volume but also click it to take a call, end a call or activate voice dialing functions of the connected phone (the lower button also takes/ends calls). The spring clip goes onto the driver’s sun visor and then attaches to the back of the HD Voice magnetically. This is brilliant since this allows the speakerphoneto be removed when exiting the car quickly. Additionally, since the HD Voice must be charged via its USB socket, placing it next to the cigarette lighter and using the included AC adapter becomes possible (over the course of 2 weeks of pretty heavy use, I didn’t have to charge the HD Voice). Or it can be taken into the home and charged on a computer. The magnet also ensures that the HD Voice is properly seated when on the visor. There are two microphones used to “catch” your voice and their placement at the bottom edge ensures that they face you when this speakerphone is attached to the clip. There’s also two speakers and again they too face you from the edge.
I had given the HD Voice 3 hours to be at full charge and attached it to the clip. Seated in the driver’s seat, I turned it on and a digitized voice began to go through a setup procedure: the longest part was at the beginning because it had me choosing from among the 12 languages that it understands. After I had told it to do American English, it began a Bluetooth pairing procedure with my iPhone. After that, it started to download a copy of my phone contacts, advising me as to its progress until it was done.
I started up the car and went for a drive. I pressed the dial which connected it to my phones A.I. And told it to call my friend Allen. It did and after the chat, he hung up and the call was disconnected. Had I wanted to, I could have pressed the dial to end the call myself. He had told me that he was hearing me fine and I said the same. I made another call, this time on the highway with the window open and again both myself and the one at the other end of the call could hear each other fine. But I did find that if I was lax in “aiming” the mics towards my face, the person at the other end wasn’t hearing me as good as would otherwise be the case.
There’s also a single voice recognition feature that can be used for incoming calls. You say “OK” to answer a call. SuperTooth says that the HD Voice understands this simple word no matter the language or accent, and I verified this by altering my “OK” for three incoming calls without confusing it. My wife also used “OK” to answer a call when she was in the car with the same positive results. And the reason for the speakerphone loading in your phonebook contacts is that it can announce who the caller is if it finds the number.
Bottom line: The HD Voice’s use of dual microphones and dual speakers ensures that calls made in the car will be heard clearly. The addition of the voice recognition feature, magnetic clip and simple control interface for making/receiving calls makes it an excellent choice for those needing a Bluetooth speakerphone in their car.
5.4 watt amplifier, Noise cancellation technology, Bluetooth/Battery charge illuminated LEDs
No built-in calling feature
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.