From November 1st it will be against the law to handle or manipulate a mobile phone while driving and doing so will earn you an $80 dollar fine and 20 demerit points.
Basically, that means no fiddling with the phone on your lap or sending or reading text messages. The phone either needs to be mounted in a secure cradle on a dashboard or similar or you have to get a hands-free kit. (The old ones which plugged into the phone but still meant you had to dial the number manually will no longer cut the mustard).
But don’t fear – there’s plenty of Bluetooth handsfree kits to choose from (no more dangling wires) and I’ve tested some of the latest and most popular. For some reason during the gadget review, the devices got studio-fright and refused to work (some say it’s the phone reception in the studio, I say it’s Oliver) but in road tests they all performed!
PARROT MINIKIT SLIM – $229
This Bluetooth device is slim, attractive and easy to use and attaches to the car’s sun visor with a little clip. Uploading your phone book onto the device is a doddle – mine did it automatically – and then it’s ready for action. The device announces who in your contact list is calling you and a quick jab of the green button connects you. To make a call, jab the green button and say the name. There’s also a dial to manually browse through the contact list (although the latter is illegal if you’re driving as it requires too much fiddling).
Advantages: Simple to set up, simple to use. The call quality is great as the whole device acts as a speaker. I didn’t notice any interference or call drop-out during testing. You can also log onto the Parrot website and update the car-kit regularly and for free using the software update tool. Talk time is up to 20 hours and it comes with a charger that plugs into the car cigarette lighter socket.
Disadvantages: You might have to learn a bit of “Parrot” to make it work and sometimes if thinks it’s made a match it goes ahead and dials without asking which then requires frantic stabbing at the sun visor to switch it off and a bit of cursing (at least on my part). That said, you can solve the problem by recording new voice tags if there are names it doesn’t recognise.
And for the truly flash…how about a hardwired hands free kit
PARROT MKI9200 CAR KIT – $599.00 plus approx $200 to install
The MKi system combines the latest communication technologies with a full set of services dedicated to music. Once paired with your Bluetooth mobile phone, the MKi enables you to establish in a few seconds any phone conversations in your vehicle without needing to handle the telephone.
And all the connectors for any type of music are provided with each MKi hands-free kit: iPod, iPhone, iTouch, USB keys, USB MP3 players, Bluetooth Stereo devices, CD players, MiniDisc.
Advantages: It looks flash, lets you play your music at the same and the sound quality is great.
Disadvantages: It’s a tad expensive once you take into account installation costs which have to be done by an approved car dealer or installer and if you swap cars you can’t take it with you.