Despite my extra geekiness and my affinity for electronic gadgets and toys, I only very recently acquired a cell phone with bluetooth. I’d been using a Motorola V325 with Verizon for three years (try this – they’ll start begging you to upgrade to a new phone a few months after your “New every two” date), and it was bluetooth-free. Then I upgraded to an iPhone, which got me a little more interested in the world of bluetooth devices.
iVoice is a small company that specializes in bluetooth voice devices for phones. I was sent both the R1 car kit and the Baby-Ai headset. We’ll cover the headset in another review.
The R1 is an interesting concept – rather than rely solely on a headset while driving, this is a speakerphone that clips onto your car’s sun visor. It has buttons for making and receiving calls, and it’s designed to be easier to use while driving than a traditional headset. It also employs iVoice’s technology to cancel out background noise and provide “face-to-face quality conversation”.
The iVoice R1 comes with a sun visor clip, USB cable, and two chargers – one for home and one for your car. This is a nice feature; I like when a product comes with a car charger – it’s one less thing I have to buy.
The R1 itself is a small black box with four buttons – end call, answer call, and volume up/down.
The visor clip is removable and is very secure and tight. It easily slides on and off your car’s sun visor without feeling loose or cheap.
Syncing it up to my iPhone was easy – I just followed the included directions, and I was ready to go. One nice thing about the R1 is that it can be synced up to two phones simultaneously. My boyfriend also has an iPhone, so we can both use it whenever we need to.
The R1 also has dual microphones. When used in the car, the second mic acts as noise cancellation. You can also enable “conference mode”, where both mics receive normal speech, so that the R1 can be used as a makeshift speaker for on-the-go conference calls.
In testing with the R1, I found that as the caller (using the R1), voice calls were very, very clear. The speaker is plenty loud and works great in the car. The end call and answer call buttons are easy to hit while I’m driving.
The R1 also supports voice dialing and announcing who is calling, if your cell phone supports these features. Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn’t support voice dialing, so this feature doesn’t work. It does, however, announce the phone number of the person calling. I’m not sure if it would announce the name of the person calling, if your phone had such a feature.
On the receiving end (someone else calling me with the R1), I could tell that the person was on a speakerphone, but the quality was good, and the audio wasn’t too muffled or distant. I called a few people with the R1, and got a few complaints that I sounded too quiet. Overall, however, the opinions I got from others were pretty positive.
At $99.99 MSRP, the R1 is a little pricey. However, if you travel and frequently use your phone in the car, it’s one handy device to have around. I will definitely be adding it to my collection of travel gadgets.