One of the downsides to driving a car built in 1997 is that it doesn't have integrated Bluetooth. More and more the need for a hands-free system while driving is becoming necessary. In New Jersey, we're prohibited from using our phones as phones anymore– we can't use our hands while talking. Bluetooth earpieces are good, but some people don't like the fit or annoyance of something continually in their ear. I personally agree with this idea.
The best option for these people is not to use the built-in speakerphone of the iPhone; the volume level is so low that you have to point the bottom of the phone at you to hear it negating the whole speakerphone idea. A much better alternative is a bluetooth speaker that sits somewhere in your car.
Parrot's Minikit Chic (as well as the standard Minikit and Minikit Slim I would presume) is a great option in this category. Not only is it a bluetooth device that has a loud speaker and can mount on your sun visor but it also is a contact list too. When it pairs with your phone, your whole contact list is accessable via the device. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you add voice recognition capability, the Minikit becomes very useful. Just by pressing the green button you prompt it to ask you for a name. Say the name, and then it verifys and calls. All with a single button touch. If you don't like speaking, you can always access the phone book by pressing the knob and finding the first letter, then the whole name. To be honest, this is a very slow and ineffective browsing method; still, it's the best that can be had with most any bluetooth speaker.
Pairing was almost instantaneous. Several phones can be paired to it, each with its own address book. The only downside with some phones is that you must push the contact file from a computer to the phone first since the iPhone lacks file transfer capability. It's not that hard to do though.
The only drawbacks I saw was that the kit seemed to be missing a function that would let you overwrite a voice tag if your pronunciation of a particular name wasn't detectable. Luckily I had no errors in detection so I didn't even have to use the feature (that didn't appear to exist). Also, while driving, the unit crashed on me. No idea why, but in 5 minutes it had turned off. I started it up again and it ran fine. There is a reset button on the back so you can reset it if necessary.
Overall, this nifty device has made my life slightly easier. I don't have to remember to remove my bluetooth earpiece anymore and the standby time is great (several days). It charges via Mini-usb and comes with a computer and car adapter so it's able to be topped up with juice most anywhere.
To Parrot: fix the missing voice-tag overwrite issue and crashing and you've got yourself a great product. As for now, it's very good. I'll keep messing around with it and will update if any more odd crashes happen.
Parrot Minikit Chic – 8.5/10
[Parrot Minikit Chic] – $109.99 / (Minikit is readily available for less than $60 and Minikit Slim for less than $90)