Review: BlackBerry Visor Mount Speakerphone VM-605
Cost: $99.99 @ Shop BlackBerry (Available June 8th)
RIM was kind enough to send over their latest Bluetooth accessory for us to review. I have to say that I am quite impressed with the quality of the BlackBerry Visor Mount Speakerphone. It combines Bluetooth with an FM transmitter to let you transmit stereo music to your car radio while easily transitioning to a call. You can also use it for voice dialing if your BlackBerry has that feature but currently I am not impressed with the built in voice dialing feature on current BlackBerrys.
One of the most interesting features in the VM-605 is that it was designed to work with GPS applications like TeleNav that announce your directions over the speakerphone or your car radio. It will also announce the caller ID number over the speakerphone. The only major fault I found with the VM-605 was the FM transmitter which was a bit weak and staticy but I have yet to find a crystal clear FM transmitter that can handle NYC airwaves.
Read on to see what’s hot and what’s not with RIM’s latest accessory. Right now the device is listed as “Coming Soon” on RIM’s website but the scheduled release date is today.
RIM started on this track a bit back with the Bluetooth Stereo Gateway. That device let you stream music to your stereo over Bluetooth and worked quite well. This latest iteration from RIM just brings those features and more to your car. I have to say that the speakerphone on the VM-605 was very impressive. Calls came out clear but a little distant according to my dear wife. Let me first describe the device:
The device essentially has one big button on the front with four LED lights indicating its status. The big button lets you pair it with your phone along with answering calls, redialing, and activating voice dialing. When I first turned the device on it spoke some language I am not familiar with but RIM told me that was because it is capable of 9 different languages. The options are read back to you by the device so when you end a call it actually tells you “call ended” and when you set it up for pairing you will get a prompt for “Pairing mode.” Pretty cool for a device with no screen.
The device sports a MicroUSB charger so you can use it with the same RIM charger that you have already. The device only comes with a car charger so you may end up having to remove it from your visor to charge it. It also hogs up the one MicroUSB charger you may have in the car but I have yet to see a device that sports a Y adapter to charge 2 devices at the same time. If you try charging it while on your visor you may end up crashing into somebody… Personally I found the device did work decently from my cup holder so that my not be a problem. The clip that holds it to the visor is pretty easy to take off so you can remove it for charging. I just wish the device were flat so you could Velcro it to somewhere where charging would be more feasible.
The sides of the device have both volume up and down buttons and a button to activate the FM transmitter. Both were pretty easy to press while driving. The FM transmitter announces the frequency it is on when you turn it on so that you can tell what to tune your radio to. RIM was smart to include an auto-scan feature which will search for the clearest channel but I found that even with their recommendations there was still noise on the channel.
The device lets you stream music from your BlackBerry to the handsfree. It will play out of the handsfree speaker unless you turn on the FM transmitter. In that case it will transfer the sound from your music and your call to the car speakers. The only problem with that is that there is definitely a distinct hiss from the FM transmitter but that may just be due to NYC having very few clear channels. Also keep in mind that if you use the FM transmitter people may be able to listen into parts of your call but I doubt it should be your primary concern since it barely makes it to the stereo.
My favorite part of the VM-605 is that it did not have an annoying flashing blue light like the BlueAnt Supertooth that would distract you while driving. It just have 4 LEDs. They are for: battery status, connection status, call status, and FM.
As I mentioned before the device supports 9 different languages for the voice prompts. So far they have US English, UK English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, & Chinese. You can simply change the language by putting it into pairing mode and holding the FM button until you hear the current language. After that you just hit the volume up or down button to select the language.
- Easy to setup Bluetooth speakerphone
- FM Transmitter to connect to car
- Voice prompts for GPS navigation
- Long battery life
- No annoying flashing LEDs
- Weak FM transmitter
- Cumbersome charging
All in all I think this is the best car speakerphone available right now with the exception of built in Bluetooth car systems. The audio is spot on and the FM transmitter is a great added bonus. I know many people will appreciate the GPS prompts and the caller ID. On the other hand I wish RIM would make the FM transmitter a little stronger and they would really have a hit.