This is the first time I have tested a device like this: a sun visor-mounted Bluetooth handsfree kit. Which is weird because they have been around a long time and there are hundreds out there. It’s also stupid, because once I tested one, I realised they are rather useful.
By and large I try not to use the phone in the car. I don’t think I’m a bad driver but the distraction of a conversation certainly doesn’t improve things. And distract you a conversation does, whatever you may think. But sometimes – usually in traffic – the need to make calls becomes imperative. And in these situations I have usually resorted to a headset device, with the long term view that at some point I would have a proper kit installed in my car. (I’ve never gotten around to this though have promised myself a proper install in my next car – project coming soon).
The alternative to the headset or the full install is the halfway house: a Bluetooth-connected device that clips to your sun visor. You pair it up with your phone (which in this case is a doddle) and from then on it takes over microphone and speaker duties whenever you are in the car.
The Jabra Freeway comes with big buttons to accept or drop calls, or trigger voice dialling, plus the added benefit of an FM transmitter to stream sound to your in-car stereo. It is this last function that is the weakest. It may work for some people but I am very picky about sound quality and the hiss that comes from even the best connections between device and radio I found just unpleasant. However I know a lot of people who wouldn’t even notice, so if you’re less fussy about quality and need serious volume, it’s a sensible addition.
I say ‘serious volume’ because the speaker built in to the Freeway is actually pretty competent in its own right. I could comfortably listen to podcasts streamed from the iPhone while at motorway speeds. It can’t compete with the staggering audio performance of the Jawbone Jambox but unless you want to listen to something with a serious baseline you will be pleasantly surprised by the sound.
The Jabra Freeway doesn’t get the full five stars I reserve for truly outstanding gadgets but it is a very solid four: a well designed product that fulfils its role admirably. At £70ish it’s more than similar devices on the market. But it’s also sleek looking, well screwed together and has good battery life. You pay a bit more for quality and I have no problem with that.