capsule review

Jabra SP700 Bluetooth Car Speakerphone

At a Glance
  • Jabra SP700 Bluetooth Speakerphone

    PCWorld Rating

    Jabra's speakerphone delivers mostly dependable audio quality, and its music streaming and integration with your car stereo are a plus.

The $100 (as of 3/27/09) Jabra SP700 Bluetooth speakerphone is a long, oval device that has a narrow wire clip for attaching to a sun visor. Even though the unit stayed firmly in place on the visor in my car, one part of the wire tended to slip out of its groove as I was affixing it, so I constantly had to put the clip back in its place. Still, the SP700 stayed snug during car rides.

A big chunk of the upper part of the device is a wide multifunction button that gives good feedback when pushed. This button answers and ends calls, redials the last number, gets voice-dialing rolling, and acts as the power button. During testing I was yearning for a separate, dedicated power switch, as it keeps the on/off mechanism less complicated. On the plus side, the SP700 has a friendly voice-announcement feature that indicates the current status after you press the multifunction button (you hear "connected" or "power off"). The unit also sports a volume rocker on the side and an FM button, both easy to access.

On the whole, during testing callers liked chatting with me. Their voices came through the speaker just fine, with only a little echo here and there. The consensus from callers was that my voice sounded far away but clear. Our conversations were generally devoid of interference and background noise inside and outside the car. However, I did have a couple of bad calls, where I had to hang up: In one case the other party's voice completely broke down and their words became unintelligible (though the caller could hear me fine), while in the other case the conversation sounded overly shaky and choppy.

While driving with calls coming in, I appreciated the helpful caller ID announcements ("Call from 1 415 555 4141"). Even if the name associated with a given number is in your contacts list, the number--not the name--is identified. With voice dialing, I generally did not get a good response on name recognition; the SP700 seemed to do better with monosyllabic names.

When I started playing music on my phone (while connected to the SP700), the speakerphone automatically began streaming my tunes from my handset--no intervention on my part necessary. As you would expect, coming from a speakerphone, the quality was not great--my tracks sounded tinny and one-dimensional. (Plus, I needed to go back to my handset to access the music controls, as the SP700 does not have such controls.)

To transmit music and calls from the speakerphone to the car stereo, I pushed the SP700‘s FM button, upon which it announced a frequency ("frequency 88.7 megahertz" for example); I then had to tune in to that frequency, and the audio began transmitting. The quality sounded somewhat better than what I heard from the speakerphone, but on one occasion the sound faded in and out quite a bit, and suffered from considerable interference. (Seeing as I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a crowded FM frequency was no surprise.)

Finally, I have to mention one great feature that's unique to the SP700: If the unit's lights are annoying, particularly at night, you can take advantage of its night-driving mode. Pressing the FM button and Volume Up button at the same time turns off the device's blue lights completely.

The SP700 provides nice extra features that many other Bluetooth car kits on our chart lack. Plus, its reliable call quality makes it a solid automotive companion.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Jabra's speakerphone delivers mostly dependable audio quality, and its music streaming and integration with your car stereo are a plus.

    Pros

    • Handy voice announcements for power status
    • Music streaming capabilities

    Cons

    • No dedicated power switch
    • Metal clip felt a bit flimsy
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