So far on BBgeeks.com we have focused on bringing you the straight goods on how to use your BlackBerry most effectively. We have made a sincere effort to give out handy BlackBerry Quick Tips and how to guides to get newbies on track and to give seasoned users an extra push in productivity.
We have now made arrangements with a number of BlackBerry accessory manufacturers and are very pleased to announce that we will now be featuring product reviews on the site on a regular basis.
To kick things off we have decided to bring to you a review of the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit. Please leave comments if there is anything you feel is missing from the review and we will make sure to include it in any reviews going forward. We hope to provide the same quality of information in our product reviews as we do on the rest of the site and your input is always welcome.
Introducing the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit
We have been waiting a short while for our first review product to arrive at the office and we were pleasantly surprised when it showed up a few days ago. The UPS girl dropped it off and I tore open the box to get a good look.
The Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit comes in solid packaging with a great green and greyscale design. There are some nice images on the packaging along with some promotional copy in multiple languages. The boxing also features a nice plastic carrying handle which protrudes from the top. Useful for getting the device back home from the store I imagine, but obsolete once I tear the box apart and get to the good stuff.
Unboxing the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit
Upon opening the box for the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit I can immediately see all of it’s components housed in a plastic tray. At first glance it looks like a 5 piece configuration with a selection of fasteners and screws to attach it within your automobile. The instruction manual was hidden underneath the plastic tray holding the components.
The components included in the box are as follows:
- Main handsfree cradle with built in speaker
- Supplemental (extended) bracket for additional mounting options
- Bluetooth connector
- Bluetooth microphone
- Direct power supply
- Fastening bolts, tapes and screws
Each of these components looks to be crafted out of a sturdy plastic. They are all all dark grey in color and textured to match those found on many automotive dashboards and consoles. This unit will compliment the aesthetics of your car and is well suited to remain in a highly visible location while not cheapening the feel of your automobiles stylized decor.
Lets take a look at each component individually:
Main handsfree cradle with built in speaker:
The main handsfree cradle measures approximately 6 inches in length, 3 inches deep and 2 3/4 inches wide at it’s slimmest configuration.
There are adjustable clamps on the unit that you can set to hold a phone of almost any dimension. The clamps are fashioned out of the same hard plastic as the rest of the unit but they are fitted with soft rubber teeth/fins that work to hold your device in place without actually squeezing the phone between hard plastic. This is a nice touch as it adds a level of shock absorption for your BlackBerry in the event that you are traveling some less than ideal roadways.
In terms of BlackBerry devices, the clamp at it’s slimmest setting is well suited for holding onto a BlackBerry Pearl. At it’s widest setting the clamps allow for a device the size of a BlackBerry Bold to be held in place.
Adjusting the clamps on the handsfree unit is accomplished by pressing a small button on it’s face and extending the clamps to their maximum width. Your BlackBerry is then placed between them and you squeeze them back together until the device is held snugly in place. This setting only has to be done once if you plan on using the same BlackBerry all the time.
From here on out all you need to do is slide the BlackBerry up in order to remove it from its cradle or slide it in from the top down to begin handsfree communications.
Supplemental bracket for additional mounting options:
It is possible to mount the main handsfree cradle directly to your dashboard, however, you may wish to have the unit placed in a more discrete position within your car or truck. For this purpose, an extended mounting bracket has been provided which would allow you to attach the entire unit to the center console of your automobile.
The extended mounting bracket measures 6 inches in length and features a rotating hook plate on the end to ensure stability and proper angling of the mount during installation.
Th extended mount is made from the same sturdy plastic as the rest of the unit and is faux textured to match the textures commonly found on the center console of most vehicles.
The Bluetooth connector is approximately 3 1/2 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. Made from the same plastic as the rest of the unit, the Bluetooth connector is meant to be fitted to the back of the main handsfree cradle. There are three slots and a clamping solution in place to keep the Bluetooth connector attached to the unit, even during bumpy rides.
The Bluetooth connector comes packaged with a small instruction booklet that sorts out the basics of pairing the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit to your BlackBerry.
There are a number of controls available on the Bluetooth connector which are meant to give you control over your phone in a handsfree manner. There is an answer key which is used to both answer and end current calls. Additionally there are volume up and down buttons for increasing or decreasing the volume of the speaker during handsfree calling.
The Bluetooth microphone is used to transmit your voice through the handsfree carkit and on to the party you are speaking with. This microphone is tiny. 1 1/2 inches long and half an inch wide. The cord for the Bluetooth microphone is at least 6 feet long, which leaves plenty of slack to make up the suggest distance requirements for placement in any vehicle.
The Bluetooth microphone comes fitted with a velcro fastener and adhesive backing so that it can be mounted in just about any position in your car or truck.
It is suggested that placement of the Bluetooth microphone be a minimum of 75 cm from the Mr. Handsfree Genius main unit and at least 40 – 50 cm away from the drivers mouth. There are supplied clips to help manage the slack in the Bluetooth microphones wire and to help guide it into a secure position.
The Bluetooth microphone has a button on the top along with some perforated holes. The holes should be positioned so that they are facing the driver and the button should be left unpressed for the majority of phones. Only in certain circumstances will you have to press in that button in order to utilize the Bluetooth microphone.
Direct power supply:
The Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit comes packaged with two power supply options. The first is a standard cigarette lighter attachment that is intended for quick attachment and removal. This option is great for those users who are unable to wire the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit directly to their cars internal wiring.
The cord that comes with the cigarette lighter connection is a spiral cord that is plenty long enough to reach your cars power supply from any location in the vehicle.
The second option for powering your Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit is a straight line solution that is meant to hardwire right into your vehicles power source. This requires some digging around behind the dash so it may not be ideal for everyone. If you are comfortable with the wiring of your vehicle then this option allows for hiding the handsfree units wires for a clean wireless look and feel.
There are detailed instructions provided on how to implement each of these power solutions. The one you use will be determined by your comfort with the internal wiring of your car or truck.
Installing the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit
We are reviewing this product on all levels from installation to in car usage. That being said however, we have to return the review model once we are finished so I have chosen not to make any holes in my dashboard or center console.
The concept here is a simple one though. Simply line up the extended mounting bracket along the preferred side of the center console in your vehicle and insert the provided screws into the pre drilled holes in the unit. There are 3 holes available which will make for a solid mount for your device.
Once the unit has been mounted to the center console (or dashboard if you prefer) all that is left is to plug it in. Again I have opted to use the cigarette lighter power supply as it is the less invasive option here.
That’s it. The entire process should take no longer than 10 – 15 minutes to complete. If you are going with the internal wiring option, expect to add another 10 minutes or so onto your installation time.
Pairing your Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit with your BlackBerry
This is the last step you need to take before you are talking handsfree while blasting down the open road. It is very important to note that the handsfree unit needs to be powered on before you pair the phone with the device.
- Ensure that your BlackBerry and the Mr. Handsfree unit are powered on.
- Press the call/end call button on the handsfree unit for 1-2 seconds.
- Press the call/end call button a second time, this time holding it for more than 5 seconds. The pairing mode is now activated for two minutes and the buttons on the front of the handsfree unit will flash.
- Ensure that Bluetooth is activated on your BlackBerry.
- Enter the submenu and tell your BlackBerry to search for Bluetooth devices
- Select Genius from the list of available options.
- Enter 0000 as the password to pair the handsfree unit to your BlackBerry.
- The lights on the front of the cradle will stop flashing and and Genius will appear in your connected devices list.
The complete setup steps are as follows (if you have not chosen to hardwire the unit into your cars electrical):
- Activate the power supply by starting your engine and plugging in the cigarette lighter adapter. The backlight for call/end call button will turn on.
- Connect the Mr. Handsfree Genius connector to your BlackBerry.
- The charging function is now enabled when applicable.
Making a Handsfree Call From Your BlackBerry
Now that we have got the BlackBerry paired with the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit and everything has been plugged into the right places, it is time to make some handsfree calls.
The process could not be simpler. With the carkit connected you place a call in the same manner as you normally would. Dial out on your phone and then place it back in the cradle. All sound will be transmitted through the speaker in the handsfree cradel and the microphone you have mounted on the drivers side.
For BlackBerry owners who have voice dialing enabled on their devices, the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit will allow for voice dialing. To do this all you need to do is press the call/end call button on the front of the cradle. The speaker will play a tone that indicates it is ok to speak your contacts name. The handsfree unit will then repeat the name you have spoken and proceed to dial the associated contact from your address book.
If you want to redial the last number you have called simply press the call/end call button once while no call is in progress. The last number you called will be automatically dialed.
There are a number of other functions that can be completed with the handsfree unit, including: Answering your incoming calls, ending your calls, rejecting calls, and auto answering calls. While some of these are done using the buttons on your BlackBerry while the device is paired with the handsfree unit, most are accomplished with a press of the call/end call button on the front of the cradle.
Overall Opinion of the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit
Overall this has turned out to be a great accessory for BlackBerry owners. If you are on the road a lot and do not want to fall victim to any “cellphone driving laws” then you should definitely be looking at an alternate solution like the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit.
The Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit is crafted out of solid plastic that should stand up to any bumps it may receive when packing the car for a road trip. The addition of faux textures to the cradle and mounting bracket are also a bonus as they allow the handsfree unit to blend in with most modern automotive interiors.
Installation and Ease of Use:
There was next to no effort required to get the device installed, running and paired with my BlackBerry Bold. It really only took 5 minutes without the actual fastening of the cradle to my center console. You can’t ask for much more than that when it comes to third party accessories for your BlackBerry.
When it came down to actually making a call the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit worked like a charm, pairing instantly and delivering on all promises from the supplied literature.
Call quality when using my Bold in handsfree mode was above average. The sound produced by the speaker in the main cradle was loud and clear with no major amount of distortion. The only time I noticed some poor quality was when the individual I was speaking with decided to scream and test how much the speaker could take. There was slight clipping in this instance, but it is (hopefully) not an every day occurrence where you have someone yelling at the top of their lungs at you while you are driving.
The Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit can be purchased from the BBGeeks Store for $119.95.