Wednesday, June 18, 2008

REVIEW: TRITTON AX Visor Universal Bluetooth Car Kit

With a new law going into effect on July 1 that requires car drivers in California to use a hands-free device to talk on their cellphone while driving, I decided to test the new Tritton AX Visor Universal Car Kit, which acts as a portable speakerphone when linked to a Bluetooth handset supporting headset or hands-free profiles.

In the past, I was never pleased with the volume levels of my Bluetooth headsets while driving. The sound was always drowned out by my car noise and I could never hear anything (I'm getting old). This all changed when I started using Tritton's AX Bluestream Bluetooth Stereo Headset, which I reviewed last December. It allowed me to use my iPod earbuds and having an earbud in each ear made a world of difference. Unfortunately the new law forbids having both ears covered.

So when Tritton's PR team asked me to review the AX Visor speakerphone car kit, I decided to give it a spin. The device is Bluetooth V1.2 compliant, supports Car Handsfree (Unidirectional microphone) and Speakerphone mode (Omnidirectional microphone), has an OLED display for caller ID (displays automatically reversible when device is used upside down), claims up to 15 hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby time and uses a mini-USB port for charging. It also has a clip on the back, which allows it to be easily attached to your car visor, hence the product name. The MSRP for the AX Visor is $119.99, but I was able to find it online for less than $90.

Out the box, I easily paired the AX Visor with my Samsung Blackjack Windows Mobile 6 Smartphone and away I went. With my other Bluetooth devices, I would "physically" connect them to my handset by pushing a button after turning it on.

One of the cool things about the AX Visor is its auto connect feature, which according to Tritton, "utilizes an integrated accelerometer that detects vibration in a vehicle and automatically connects to the paired phone." It works as stated. All I have to do is get in my car and turn on the AX Visor and it automatically connects to my handset. Even if I leave the car, it will re-connect upon entry. Sweet.

Auto connect is a neat feature, but more importantly, how did it do as a speakerphone? Very well, in fact. This thing is loud. Loud enough that I can hear everything being said over the car noise. Loud enough that I had to lower the volume or close my car window so other drivers/people couldn't hear my conversations. So for an old dude like me that's pretty good.

How's the sound on the other end? People I was speaking with said I came in clear. There were some delays/cutouts due to ambient car noise but nothing major. And no one complained that I sounded like I was in a wind tunnel. For conference calls on the road it still might make sense to put the AX Visor or handset on mute, but it's well suited for listening mostly and speaking occasionally while driving.

As for battery life, I can't attest to Tritton's claims, but I think I charged it once by using the supplied USB cable via my PC and haven't touched it since.

All in all, the AX Visor is another solid Bluetooth device from the folks at Tritton. If you're looking for a Bluetooth speakerphone for car or portable use then it just might be the ticket...