Guest review by Pope Galang
This story starts when my brother and I decided to buy “new” cars. Although all we could afford were subcompacts, we had to argue — which car is better? My (2nd hand) Honda Jazz 1.5V was pitted against his brand new Ford Fiesta S. The Jazz had the upper hand when it came to fuel economy and interior room, while the Fiesta was superior when it came to the new car smell, automotive technology (DSG!) and electronic gadgets.
Ahh — those gadgets. I never admitted this to him, but being a gadget hound, I was especially enthralled by the Fiesta’s voice-activated bluetooth-integrated stereo-thingamajig. Best feature I wish my Jazz had (aside from the new car smell)- Bluetooth mobile phone pairing, for converting it into a hands-free speakerphone.
Enter the Hi-Sense HB650 and HB600s Bluetooth Handsfree Car kits. These are smallish devices (about as big as an iPod Classic) which you either clip to your car’s sun visor (HB650) or stick to your car’s windshield via suction cups (HB600s). Both pair easily with mobile phones. You get them ready by holding the round “MFB” button for 6 seconds, then searching for the device via Bluetooth using your mobile phone’s connectivity settings page. Enter the PIN “0000,” and you’re in business. I got my Nokia e71 paired and ready to go in under 1 minute.
Both handsfree devices have 4 buttons each — a “multi-function button” (MFB) for turning the device on and off, ending/answering calls, and initiating other features (i.e. Bluetooth pairing, voice dialing etc.), 2 volume buttons (+/-), and a mute button (which is curiously labelled “Mode”). There is also a blue/red LED light, which blinks and lights up – to indicate that something is going on.
The HB650 features a friendly, robotic female voice — she tells you what the device is up to (i.e. “Power On”, “Pairing Phone”, “Phone is ready for use”, etc), and in case of incoming calls, announces who is calling. The catch is that you need to “sync” your mobile phone contacts to the speaker to enable this — otherwise only the phone number will be “announced.” Although your phone has to support this feature (as with other features, like voice dialing), this is not as big a deal as it sounds — I was able to sync 300 contacts in about 2 mins via bluetooth. I was not able to get the HB650 to announce the name though — perhaps my Nokia phone book is not compatible with the speaker.
The HB600s does not have the voice prompt or text-to-speech feature. You will need to rely on beeps and blue/red LED flashes to know whats going on – make sure you stash the manual in your glove box! It does make up for this by having solar panels at the back of the device — a red LED light goes on when its charging — I had a tinted front windshield, and had no problems charging. The claim is that for every 2 hours under the sun, you’ll get 1 hour additional talk time. The HB600S also comes with other extras, such as: an external microphone, spare suction cups, and p400 more in your pocket.
Both devices come with full duplex sound quality — I tried to use them to call my wife, everything worked as expected — she heard me loud and clear. The speakers and microphone on both devices also worked pretty well — volume and clarity was sufficient for me to carry on a conversation comfortably. The black, rubberized finish does tend to attract dust easily. Both models come with a USB-ported car charging kit.
Last item here is the price. Would you pay more than 3,000 pesos to upgrade your wired handsfree kit (which, a lot of times, already comes with the phone you’re using)? Is it a worthwhile upgrade to make the Jazz more like the Fiesta? Maybe it is.
Hisense HB600 = Php 2,450
Hisense HB600S (w/ solar charging) = Php 3,450
Hisense HB650 (w/ Text to Speech function) = Php 3,850
Hisense HB650S (w/ Text to Speech function and Solar charging) = Php 4,850
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