How do you go ‘hand-free?’

May 7, 2010 | By | Comments (0)

 As regular readers will know, last year I signed the "Keep Your Mind on the Wheel" pledge. And, for the most part, I have successfully kept my hands off my phone and on the wheel. But, let's face it, on days when I'm on the road more than in the office, there are times when I need to talk on the phone and drive (please don't judge me).

Which is why, I've been looking at options for going hands-free:

Option 1: Corded
The iPhone comes with an set of headphones which include a microphone so you can switch easily from listening to music to speaking on the phone. The problem has been that the cord gets in the way; tangles easily in my pocketbook; and because I don't want to have a headphone on each ear, I end up shoving one of them down the front my my shirt.

Plus, I accidentally slammed the car door shut on the headset, destroying it for future use.

Option 2: Bluetooth through GPS
I have a Garmin nuvi GPS with Bluetooth which lets me accept calls through the unit. While I like the hands free features, including that incoming numbers show up on the screen and the guidance goes mute when I'm on a call, I found that many people had difficulty hearing me due to ambient road noise and distance.

250px-Seven_of_nineOption 3: Bluetooth earpiece
A couple of years ago I had a Bluetooth headset for my phone which, because of it's size and the glowing blue light, made me feel like Seven of Nine (sorry, geek reference to a character from the Star Trek universe I can only dream of looking like, even with all the hardware).

But, when I received an ICON from Jawbone, I was ready to give it another try. Immediately I could see it was much more attractive than my headset of old (no more glowing blue light), and included several earpiece options to ensure it would fit comfortably (I chose to use the small loop for added security). With MyTalk I was able to sync the headset to my laptop and customize the ICON, including changing the voice guide which tells you when a phone call is coming in and from what number (mine now sounds a little like Laura Croft from Tomb Raider); and adding an application that allows me to listen to music through the ICON.

My complaints are few – with anything Bluetooth-related, there seems to be a drag on my battery life. There also didn't appear to be any way to increase the volume on the headset itself, which made hearing some of my podcasts difficult. Because my iPhone is a little older, I also cannot take advantage of the voice dialing feature.

I have found there are added benefits to going hands-free – I no longer have to dig around in my pocketbook when the phone starts to ring; and  I can avoid missing calls whether I'm out in the yard gardening, or trying to wrangle the kids.

I know many places require people to use hands-free devices when driving. What solution do you use?