Well, after five long years, my old Motorola MotoRokr T505 hands free speaker phone has died. That it lasted five years is saying something. That it lasted five years in St. Louis — being alternatively frozen and baked — says a lot. Unfortunately, I still have to go through the nuisance of replacing it.
My requirements for a car hands free device are actually pretty simple. I need the following:
- Bluetooth connectivity for my phone.
- A2DP streaming
- FM transmitter
- Support for my iPhone’s voice commands.
Surprisingly, the field hasn’t changed all that much in the last 5 years. It doesn’t take too long to narrow the field down to two contenders: the Jabra Freeway and the Motorola Roadster 2. The Jabra is slightly more than the Motorola, but not enough to make a difference. Figure either one will cost you around $100. Both units have the required capabilities.
The Jabra also includes a trial of the Voice Assist commercial service. This basically adds ability for greater voice control, including texting and email. Note that this is a premium service that will cost $50/year after the initial trial period expires. It also connects to the 3rd party service phone number in order to provide the capabilities. Keep this in mind if you do not have an unlimited call plan or you are traveling out of the country. You could get very big bill very quickly. The Jabra also has a better speaker system — a 3 speaker, virtual surround sound rig. Sweet, but something of overkill for calling the office on the road or listening to podcasts. The Freeway also sports a dual mic noise cancellation system; important for highway driving. Finally, the Jabra has a motion sensor that will put the unit in standby when you stop and leave the vehicle. It’s a very nice unit on paper and has been very well reviewed. Many swear by the Jabra.
The Motorola is the second revision of the Roadster line and is also the successor to my old T505. It’s a single speaker, but quite loud. Like the Jabra, it supports a dual mic input for noise cancellation. It also has sensors to tell when you’ve left the car. This is doubly useful. For starters, you don’t waste battery life. Second you avoid having all your phone’s sounds and alerts going to the car. Very useful if you use your phone as your alarm clock.
End the end I went with the Motorola. My familiarity with it’s predecessor was a big factor. Also the fact that I could pick it up at a local store rather than incur the delay of an online purchase settled the matter for me.