Mobile phones in cars

Mobile phones in cars

Obviously you would have to be living under a stone to not realise that using a handheld mobile phone whilst driving is illegal. Of course some people don’t follow laws like that and accidents happen. Outside my father’s school, three children were mowed down by a 4x4 driver on his phone, putting one into a coma and breaking numerous bones of the other two. He wasn’t paying attention and left the scene despite hundreds of witnesses. He gave himself up later in the evening. Driving whilst using mobile phones is not a good idea in my opinion so this thread considers the alternatives available to drivers.

Bear in mind though, that driving while on the phone (wireless or not) should be avoided where possible. Statistics show, time and time again, that using a phone will decrease concentration by a significant amount.

However, if you are a high mileage and heavy user, and always seem to need to make calls whilst driving (for example, you end up using your phone and car whilst working) it is worth considering these options:

The basic wired headset

Often provided for free with mobiles, these headsets take many forms from mp3 player headphones with a microphone down to a boom mic on a wire danging down from a single ear piece. They all offer moderate speaker quality or less and typically poor microphone quality. EBay cost is about £2 and expect them to last months, not years. They simply plug into your phone and calls will go through the ear piece, usually with voice recognition if desired. My advice for a very low user. No fitting costs and available immediately.

The Bluetooth headsets

Making you look like a man from star trek these are seen to some as a fashion accessory. Recently I saw a woman wearing a Burberry design one. I laughed. They are paired to your phone (if Bluetooth equipped) and work reasonably well, sound and mic quality is typically similar to your basic wired headset but you are not held down by a wire. Cost is anything from £12 or so to £100. The internal battery will often give you a reasonable talktime and standby time (depending on model) but should typically be charged up daily. Usually come with car AND house charger. Work very much in the same way as the wired headset. Can be very uncomfortable to wear and unsightly to look at, although very small to carry. No fitting costs and available immediately. Advice for a moderate user.

Fully integrated car kit

Now dated, these units typically have a holder built for your specific phone along with an interface socket for your particular phone, a microphone is then routed around the car into a suitable position and a speaker fixed elsewhere. Offer very high sound quality and depending on the microphone position, excellent sound pick up with very little background noise since noise suppression is used. Unfortunately, cost of fitting is typically high due to the cabling required if you want it hard wired and fixed into the car and you can’t just switch it to another car very quickly of easily. Cost upwards of £20 with no obvious limit. Often these do also have voice recognition. For a high user but not by any means in my opinion a good choice.

Car radio

Some car radios such as the new G.punto blue&me system have a completely integrated phone system along with text reader. I will avoid discussing this system as it would apply to very few people. However, car radios with Bluetooth do exist and can be used as a phone. Parrot make such a headunit.

Bluetooth car kit

By far my preferred choice and the one I use. Units are made by companies like Parrot. I use the visorblade II. These units typically (although not across the board) require no fitting and simply slip onto your sun visor. A microphone can be pulled down to take it off standby and a single button press typically answers a call or starts voice recognition. Can be swapped between cars within seconds. My battery life is about 10 hours chatting and 10 days standby or similar, comes with car and house charger. All seem to have excellent sound quality, microphone is in the perfection position for your speech. I find at high speeds the car noise can be slightly off putting but since I am not on the receiving end that’s OK Typical cost £35-£150. Units can also often display/read text messages. Good for a high user.

At the end of the day it’s your choice and my recommendation is that the best value for money (and best performing) use a Bluetooth visor device from a reputable manufacturer.


Notes originally written by pghstochaj.