(CNET) -- Not everyone needs a Bluetooth headset for hands-free chatting while in the car. If you prefer to keep your ears unplugged, a Bluetooth speakerphone might be a better option.
Tritton, which also makes the AX Micro Bluetooth headset, has recently launched the Visor Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit, which is essentially a portable speakerphone.
Unlike a lot of other Bluetooth speakerphones out there, the Visor steps it up a notch with a nice OLED screen that can show caller ID. There are also two mics to accommodate two different modes--an in-car mode, plus a desktop speakerphone mode.
All that combined with easy-to-use controls and great sound quality makes this one of the better speakerphones out there. The AX Visor will cost you, though, as it retails for $120.
Design: The Tritton AX Visor has a sleek and modern rectangular design, and its black body with silver trim makes it look quite stylish. Measuring 4.8 inches long by 2.0 inches wide by 0.8 inch thick, the Visor has a large speaker grille on the upper half, and then slopes downward toward the lower half.
The slope itself is home to a 2-inch OLED screen, which shows information like caller ID, battery strength, Bluetooth connection status, a mode indicator, and call status. When the Visor is flipped upside down to fit underneath a car's sun visor, the internal accelerometer is smart enough to also flip the OLED display upside down so you can read it.
The lower half of the Visor is home to a large multifunction button, located right in the middle underneath a phone symbol. The power toggle is on the right spine, and the left is home to a Mute/Hold button and a volume rocker.
We really liked having a dedicated power toggle and a dedicated Mute button since that makes using the multifunction button a little less complicated. All buttons were easy to press and use, though the multifunction button felt a little stiffer than we would like.
At the bottom of the Visor are two microphones -- an omnidirectional mic when it's in use as a desktop speakerphone, and a unidirectional mic when it's in use in the car. The Visor automatically turns on the appropriate mic depending on how it's positioned -- as we mentioned, when it's flipped upside down it automatically triggers in-car mode.
Next to the microphones is a charging jack. On the back of the Visor is a slot for a metal clip, which can then be clipped on to a car's visor. It works pretty well, but the clip fits so tightly in the slot that it can be a bit of a pain to put in and take out.
Road test: We paired the Tritton AX Visor with the RIM BlackBerry Pearl successfully. Call quality was excellent -- the different microphones really do work well to emphasize your voice in the two different environments.
When in-car mode is activated, the unidirectional mic helps to block out surrounding noise and eliminate echo, so that callers can hear you more effectively over the din of engine noises and other auditory distractions. We tested this out, and indeed, callers had no problem hearing us.
However, we sometimes had trouble hearing them -- the maximum volume on the speakerphone sometimes wasn't loud enough to drown out the engine and traffic noises. In desktop speakerphone mode, the omnidirectional mic works to pick up your voice from all angles, which resulted in callers hearing us loud and clear, plus vice versa.
Features: These include answering, ending, and rejecting calls, as well as last number redial, voice dial support, call mute, three-way conferencing, and the capability to transfer a call from the Visor to the phone and vice versa.
The Visor's internal accelerometer is also sensitive enough to car vibration. So whenever you start up your car's engine, the Visor will sense it, and will automatically look to connect to the last paired cell phone.
The Tritton AX Visor comes with a USB charging cable and an AC adapter. It has a rated battery life of 15 hours talk time and 16.7 days standby time.
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