About a year ago I bought an Acura TL. I’m very happy with the car, and I suspect I’ll be happy for a number of years. It has all sorts of high-tech gadgetry, and one of the features I have been really looking forward to using is its Bluetooth “Handsfree Link” phone interface.
Basically, the car can be “paired” with an appropriate Bluetooth enabled phone. Once paired, when you start the car and the phone is in range the car will interface to it. You can then use the car’s audio system and voice recognition controls to call out and so forth. Unfortunately, when I bought my car I was still in year two of a three year phone contract with a phone that wasn’t Bluetooth capable.
Not any more. A few days ago I cancelled my old phone (the contract had expired) and went to Bell. There I picked up a Motorola Razr…actually, first I picked up a Samsung a920, which is a great phone with Bluetooth support, but which unfortunately doesn’t want to pair with my TL. I found several web references to folks who couldn’t get the a920 to pair with a TL with varying degrees of failure (I couldn’t get it to pair at all). Before going back to the Bell store to exchange the phone (they have a 15 day no-quibble exchange policy), I found this page in the Acurazine forums. It lists a number of phones and describes exactly which ones work, don’t work/partly work, and which ones have “approval” from Acura (noted in the list with a “#” symbol.
So how does it all work? The outbound audio quality (I.E.: what someone I call hears) is about what you’d expect for a car kit: that is, a bit hollow and slightly “echoey”, but quite usable. The inbound audio (I.E.: what I hear of the call) is first rate: its coming over the TL’s multi-speaker surround sound audio system, so its solid and clear throughout the car. The Razr V3c I have seems to interface “perfectly”- although the Acurazine posting I refer to above indicates that the battery status display in the interface for the phone doesn’t work, with mine its functioning just fine (I.E.: my Acura displays the phone’s battery status). One thing to note is that the voice recognition interface in the Acura TL for the phone has its own dialing directory that is totally independent from any dialing list the phone itself might have. I found that the Acura TL’s phone interface made setting up the my phonebook very quick/easy: its recognition of numbers in particular was very crisp. Basically, I spoke the numbers at a normal speed in a normal tone of voice, and I got 100% recognition for the 10 or so entries I added to the phone list.
And how is the Razr? Its cool- many of the featues it has, particularly the camera and video, are not things I particularly care about in a phone. But it works well, and I’ve had more fun than I expected taking pictures and emailing them directly from the phone. Bell has a $10 a month “option” package that gives unlimited web browsing and unlimited picture mail messages: that makes the built in camera almost useful. Mind you, I can see how sending pictures to everyone could quickly get me into people’s “irritating emailer” books- I’ll have to be a little careful.