Mark Bridge writes:
Persuading mobile phone users not to hold their phone when they’re driving should be a simple task. It’s dangerous, it’s against the law and the penalties include a fine plus points on your licence.
But even then, there’s often an excuse about convenience and usability. Some people don’t like wearing headsets, some don’t like wires and some simply forget to charge the batteries.
That’s why a new hands-free Bluetooth loudspeaker from French company BeeWi caught my eye. It’s called the BBS020, it’s solar-powered and it can fit to the inside of your car windscreen, which means no wires and no forgetting to recharge it.
There’s a microUSB socket to charge the battery when you first use it – or if your car spends most of its time in underground car parks – but I didn’t bother. I simply stuck the loudspeaker to my windscreen and started using it the next day.
Now, when I say I stuck it to the windscreen, it’s small enough to tuck away in the corner. Think of a tiny mobile phone – 10 centimetres by 5 by just over 1 centimetre deep – and that’s what it’s like. One button on the front for answering and calling, with a volume control on the edge – and the solar panel on the back. The whole thing clips inside a clear plastic holder with suction feet to attach it to the glass.
Pairing it with your phone is as easy as most modern headsets – just hold down the button, ask your phone to look for new Bluetooth devices and then enter the not-very-secret security code of 0000.
The battery life promises up to five hours of continuous talk time or 40 days of standby time – but that’s assuming it doesn’t get recharged by the sun. I don’t have a garage so, as far as I can see, there’s every chance I’ll never need to charge this. Ever.
Which is good for the environment and for my electricity bill – but how well does it actually work?
The iPadio player below includes a couple of examples (about two minutes in). After a few seconds of set-up, I was happy with the quality at both ends of the call.
There’s a one watt speaker with digital sound processing for echo cancellation and noise reduction – and, rather cleverly, there’s multipoint functionality which means two mobile phones can be paired with it at the same time. You and your passenger can both link your phones to it – and it’ll work hands-free when either one of you receives a call.
BeeWi products are distributed in the UK through an exclusive deal with Avenir Telecom. If you want to buy one, have a word with your local mobile phone retailer – and if you're a mobile phone retailer, have a word with Avenir Telecom.