By Wayne Gorrett
✔ Performs perfectly * Good sound * External speaker and mic.
✖ Pricey, for what it is * No GPS built-in.
☀ ☀ ☀
TomTom’s hands-free kit for Smartphones allows the user to make and receive calls and position a smartphone in the right location for use as a navigation device.
One was sent to me for evaluation in my capacity as a safety and security tester for Tesco Compare car insurance, more details about which may be found here… http://www.tescocompare.com/car-insurance.shtml.
If we’re all honest, finding a solution to mounting your smartphone in your car has never been particularly challenging. Suction-type mounts are a dime-a-dozen and toeing the legal line on hands-free devices in cars has never been easier – either via those silly earpieces, headsets, visor mounts and other methods such as built-in Bluetooth. Most are available in one guise or another from your regular high street market.
In the heady mix of similar products vying for your attention – but unlikely to be found at your local market – is TomTom’s Hands-Free Kit for Smartphones. It will accept any smartphone powered by a micro-USB and offers Bluetooth to include Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and others. However, if you’re looking to mount an iPhone in your car, TomTom has a separate mount.
While it carries the TomTom name, it doesn’t bring the highly-acclaimed TomTom navigation with it. For that facility, you’ll have to use whatever you have on your smartphone – Google Maps, Waze, etc. When combining the inevitable data levies – where chargeable – from your mobile provider, that £79.99 price tag begins to lack some of its original lustre.
Going back to its design, TomTom have does a pretty good job here. Because of its flexibility in regard to size of devices, it is highly adaptable. Your device is able to be mounted vertically or horizontally (best for maps) and the grip clamps may be and adjusted to secure the phone firmly in place.
Using the windscreen sucker mount with its twist lock is easy as pie, but it worked better once the sucker was moistened a little as it wasn’t too sturdy when applied dry. The mount is a dual joint type with adjustment of the angles to best suit your driving position.
Once you’ve plugged the device into the car, the kit will power your device as it comes with a 12v socket plug. That said, the cable that plugs in is a USB, so if your car is reasonably new and has a USB port, that may be used to power the device and leave the 12v socket free.
Being a hands-free kit, the TomTom provides everything you’ll need for taking and making calls while driving. You simply connect via Bluetooth having paired with the mount which then allows you to use the mic and speaker provided with the kit.
The 2W speaker is built in to the rear of the unit which means you don’t have to rely on the phone’s speaker for call or navigation communications. Given its size, the speaker quality is okay and it has volume control so you can roll it up over your noisy tappets.
While the external mic means you’re not reliant on the one on your phone, TomTom has again provided smart flexibility, with a mic extension cable enabling you to locate the mic closer to you, either on the A-pillar or the sun visor, with provided clips and accessories to keep things tidy.
Should you sometimes not want to affix your phone on the mount, the kit will work perfectly as a hands-free unit. With two calling buttons built in to the faceplate, they allow acceptance or rejection of calls when your phone is connected via Bluetooth, this while the phone is in the cubby, your bag or your pocket – to again take advantage of the satellite speaker and mic.
* Universal holder – clamps your phone from top to bottom or side to side * Dual mounting system – mounts on windscreen or dashboard for safety and convenience * Landscape and portrait orientation – the ball joint allows you to rotate your phone to landscape or portrait orientation, so you can choose the best view for you * Easy-reach answer and reject buttons – answer and reject calls, even with your phone in your pocket * Extendable microphone – the extendable microphone makes conversations even clearer * Sound boost – quality audio with a 2-Watt speaker * One-touch voice control activation – activate Siri or voice control with a single touch * Fast charging – fast charges your phone while you’re on the go * Smartphone compatible – the car kit fits all Bluetooth-enabled phones charged with a micro-USB connector and which are 100-127mm tall or 54-80mm wide.
What’s in the box?
* Smartphone mount * Three adhesive cable clips * Microphone sun visor clip * Microphone A-pillar clip * Microphone extension wire * Fast car-charger * Adhesive disk * Installation instructions.
If you want your gizmos complete with metaphorical bells and whistles then sure, spend a penny short of £80 for a TomTom hands-free kit for Smartphones. It does exactly what it says on the box. It performs pretty well overall with adequate volume for commands and a flexible mic arrangement for taking calls. If you’re a mover and shaker and want an in-car phone and navigational mount that does loads, then this TomTom HFK for Smartphones is well worth a look.
That’s the ‘wants’ covered. Now let’s look at the ‘needs’.
Should all you need is to affix your phone in-car merely to tick a hands-free legal box and at the same time shut your parents up, then you should spend no more than a tenner at your regular high street market. Don’t get me wrong, I get the full functionality of this kit and I see its strong advantages and practical uses for today’s high-tech, gadget-wielding youth.
But remember…because of its price, it might well be those same concerned parents who will probably buy it for you in the first place, because the old banger you CAN afford, doesn’t have Bluetooth capability.
As a closing argument – one that may not be appreciated with your having read this far – I turn my phone off when in the car. I do so not because I don’t care about you or your call…I do it because I care about me and my family just that little bit more.