capsule review

BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Bluetooth Car Speakerphone

At a Glance
  • BlueAnt Wireless Supertooth 3 Hands-Free Bluetooth Speakerphone

    PCWorld Rating

    Provides caller ID info, automatic phonebook downloads, and easy-to-use controls, but voice quality was up and down.

The $130 (as of 3/27/09) BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Bluetooth speakerphone is a bit longer than an iPod Classic. You attach a metal clip to your car's sun visor, and then you align the Supertooth 3's magnets on the underside to the clip. On my trips the device stayed planted firmly on the visor.

The speakerphone has two buttons side by side: a green power/call button, and a red end-call/reject-call button (you use the latter to reload the phone book, as well). I found that I had to glance at the device to reach the correct button, as opposed to finding them by feel alone. Like some other Bluetooth speakerphones I tried, the Supertooth 3 lacks a button devoted to the power-on/-off function, and I definitely missed that. I did like the unit's spoken status indicators--"BlueAnt ST3 powering down" or "call ended," for instance. But the eerily robotic voice gave me the creeps sometimes.

The Supertooth 3 gets a big thumbs-up for its phone-book synchronization: Right after you pair the unit with your phone, the Supertooth 3 immediately downloads the contacts. Again, you hear status updates along with a confirmation when the deed is done. After your contacts are loaded into the Supertooth 3's memory, any time a call comes in that it recognizes, it announces the name--a huge plus. What's more, I liked being able to say "Accept" or "Answer" or "Okay" to pick up the call; the Supertooth 3 is the only device on our Bluetooth car kits chart that lets you answer a call by voice that way.

Your phone needs to support the phone-book sync, though; consult your phone's specifications to see if it supports automatic synchronization. If it doesn't, you can instead send your contacts from your phone manually via Bluetooth. But your phone may not support that function, either--if it doesn't, when a call comes in, you'll hear only an announcement of the number. Nevertheless, you can still dial by voice using your phone's feature. In tests the Supertooth 3 listened well and picked up my commands, although I did have to raise my voice a bit.

Call quality was inconsistent. Some calls sounded fine, with crisp voices, but lots of other calls were laced with interference. A couple of callers grumbled about hearing radio noises in the background--but my radio was not switched on at those times. We heard echoes and crackling sounds, and one caller thought the ambient noise sounded as if it were coming from a churning washing machine. Half the time, the interference wasn't a deterrent, but at other times it made lengthy business calls impossible.

One thing to whine about: The Supertooth 3 has a teensy, blinking blue light when turned on, and that proved very distracting, particularly at night--the pipsqueak of a flash would catch the corner of my eye.

Compared with the $100 Parrot Minikit Chic, which also offers automatic phone-book transfer, the Supertooth 3 is a more expensive way to go. In my tests the Parrot's call quality came out slightly ahead, to boot. But the Supertooth 3 offers a feature that the Parrot does not: a choice of languages. You can select British English, American English, Spanish, French, Italian, or German, whereas the Parrot offers one language per unit.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Provides caller ID info, automatic phonebook downloads, and easy-to-use controls, but voice quality was up and down.

    Pros

    • Announces caller ID
    • Transfers contacts automatically

    Cons

    • Background noise noticeable during calls
    • Blinking lights can be distracting
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