Nokia Wireless Car Kit

  • Editors' rating
    7.7 Very good

Pros

  • Bluetooth connects with car ignition
  • seamless transfer from mobile to Wireless Car Kit
  • remote control
  • audio muting

Cons

  • Professional installation recommended
  • limited range of Bluetooth mobiles supported
  • poor-quality supplied speaker

Driving while using a handheld mobile phone is to become illegal in the UK from 1 December 2003. With on-the-spot fines of £30, rising to a maximum £1,000 fine if you are taken to court, the case for evaluating hands-free car kits becomes more topical by the day. There are several reasonably priced wireless hands-free devices available. Nokia’s Bluetooth-based Wireless Car Kit is compatible with the company’s 3650, 6310, 6310i, 6650, 8910 and 8910i handsets, as well as other Bluetooth 1.1 phones that support the Handsfree profile.

Installation
In the box, you get a remote control button, an external microphone, cables and mounting plates for installation, an external speaker, the hands-free unit that everything plugs into, an installation guide, and a user guide. Nokia recommends that you use professional specialists to install the Wireless Car Kit (we have heard of one unfortunate E-class Mercedes owner who managed to inadvertently set off both airbags while indulging in a spot of DIY). We used Dashmount, who took 45 minutes and ensured that the microphone and remote were placed in the optimal positions, and tucked all the leads neatly out of sight. For simplicity, the ignition was connected through a lead at the rear of the stereo instead of via the battery. Once installed, we paired the Wireless Car Kit with a Bluetooth Nokia 3650. After entering a four-figure passkey, the kit was instantly recognised when the ignition was turned on. Our installation included a lead connecting the Wireless Car Kit to the car’s door-mounted stereo speakers. This is an added extra, but well worth it as the single small speaker supplied by Nokia distorts badly. Switching between the Nokia speaker and the car’s stereo speakers in our tests produced a marked improvement in audio quality.

Performance
We tested the Wireless Car Kit using a Nokia 3650 and a Sony Ericsson T68i. After the initial setup, the 3650 connected and disconnected automatically every time the ignition was turned on and off. However, with the Sony Ericsson T68i, we found that it had to be manually configured each time it was used -- even though the Wireless Car Kit was saved as a paired device. To avoid this hassle, you’ll need to use an officially supported Nokia handset. The microphone next to the driver’s sun visor is sensitive enough in most cases to correctly identify voice dialling, even when contending with background noise of traffic and music. Correspondents at the other end of a call from the Wireless Car kit reported the sound quality as ‘so-so’. You accept and terminate calls by pressing the centre of the remote control, which has a rotating volume band around the accept/reject button. Incoming calls mute the stereo and restore it when you hang up. The remote control is large enough to find when you are concentrating on the traffic around you, and it has a sliver of LEDs inside the button to help you find it at night. It’s possible to set up the Wireless Car Kit to answer calls automatically. If you press the remote button twice it redials the last number. The remote control also allows you to switch between your handset and the car kit and vice versa. Many people have a work mobile and another one for personal calls. If you have two Bluetooth phones in your car, the first one you pair with the Wireless Car Kit becomes the default phone. Getting a call on your other phone while on the move can become complicated if you want to use the wireless hands-free kit, and you might have to resort to turning off the default phone to help connect your other Bluetooth phone (needless to say, configuring the Bluetooth setup while driving is not recommended). The Wireless Car Kit can be paired with a maximum of eight Bluetooth mobiles.

Conclusion
If you have a Bluetooth mobile (preferably a fully supported Nokia model), then as a Wireless Car Kit user, you should be able to stay within the law and benefit from the convenience of wireless hands-free phone use while driving.

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