With the arrival of the new California cell phone law, it has become more important than ever to consider all the types of cell phone hands-free devices. As you may have heard, it is illegal to hold a phone up to your ear while driving, so you need to invest in a hands-free device if you want to continue being able to chat while on the road.
Different Types of Cell Phone Hands-Free Devices
Before we proceed with a discussion on the available types of cell phone hands-free devices, it is important to review the laws on talking on cell phones while driving. It will largely depend on your jurisdiction whether hands-free devices are required while behind the steering wheel. At the same time, there are some areas where it is illegal to talk on your phone altogether, whether you are using a hands-free headset or not. This has come from plenty of discussion concerning driving safety and cell phones.
Keeping those concerns in mind, what kinds of mobile phone hands-free devices are available out there? What options do you have?
Wired Headsets with Microphones
Perhaps one of the least expensive options would be to consider the wired cell phone headsets available on the market. These would be the kinds of headsets like the one pictured above. These headsets are physically connected to your chosen cell phone though some sort of wire.In general, there are two kinds of wired headsets. The first would involve a "boom" style microphone that extends from the earpiece. This style tends to be quite sturdy and steady, holding the microphone relatively close to your voice. The second style would have an in-line microphone where the mic is placed along the cord. This is more of a seamless design, but it may result in inconsistent voice quality.
Most of these wired types of cell phone hands-free devices can be had for under $10 from stores that sell cell phone accessories.
Bluetooth Wireless Headsets
With quickly advancing technology, it is more affordable than ever to consider a Bluetooth headset. Naturally, the biggest advantage that Bluetooth headsets have over their wired counterparts is that the Bluetooth headsets are wireless. Most contemporary phones have Bluetooth technology, so compatibility usually isn't much of a concern.
The more affordable Bluetooth headsets, especially those that are used or refurbished, can be purchased for under $50. Fancier headsets, like the Aliph Jawbone, can retail for over $100. It should also be noted that music phones can benefit from A2DP-equipped stereo Bluetooth headsets, because they offer wireless music enjoyment in addition to serving as a type of cell phone hands-free device.
Just because you want a hands-free device does not mean that it needs to be attached to your ear. Bluetooth speakerphones are quickly rising in popularity, because drivers don't have to deal with the discomfort of wearing a headset all day. Many companies manufacture speakerphones with Bluetooth, including BlueAnt, Motorola, and Nokia.For the most part, these kinds of speakerphones come with a clip so that they can be attached to a car visor or heat vent. This is very convenient, but the disadvantage is that conversations can be heard by everyone in the car. This isn't a problem when driving alone, but privacy may be more of a concern when other people are in the vehicle.
Other Ways to Go Hands-Free
One of the most popular types of cell phone hands-free devices is the kind that is built right into the car's stereo system. These operate in much the same way as the separate Bluetooth speakerphones described above, except the audio is send out through the car's speakers. The microphone is typically embedded into the dash somewhere.
Even if your car is not equipped with Bluetooth from the factory, it may be possible to consider a Bluetooth retrofit kit. As expected, these kits can be more expensive than conventional Bluetooth headsets, largely because of the labor involved.
Another hands-free solution? How about the speakerphone function built right into most phones? This costs you nothing more than the price of the phone itself.