Review: Jabra Cruiser Bluetooth Car Kit Speakerphone | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: Jabra Cruiser Bluetooth Car Kit Speakerphone 10

by Derek Kessler Thu, 04 Feb 2010 3:52 pm EST

Jabra Cruiser Bluetooth Car Kit

The Jabra Cruiser bluetooth car kit packs a bevy of technology in a sleek and shiny package. While far from innovative, the Jabra Cruiser is an adequate car kit and performs capably when paired with a Palm Pre. As you might imagine, adequate does not equal superb. The Cruiser just didn’t measure up to its price tag when it came to making calls.

Audio Quality

Under the glossy fingerprint magnet case of the Cruiser is a large speakerphone that emits sound through a large slit towards the end of the device. Strangely, this slit is angled such that it away from you when mounted onto a car visor. This odd placement makes for a clean aesthetic design, but it also means that the sound that you get on calls is first reflected off your windshield and dashboard before hitting your ears. The end result is muffled audio. If you can manage to find a way mount the Cruiser car kit so that the speaker faces you, then you’ll get excellent and clear sound, but then the controls are on the opposite end of the device and harder to reach.

As best as I could tell the dual microphones are also located inside this slit. Quite often callers reported distracting echoes of their own voice while I used the car kit, and a muffled transmission of my own voice. All-in-all, it’s good hardware, but the arrangement in the name of aesthetics compromises the design.

Jabra Cruiser Bluetooth Car Kit

The Jabra Cruiser also comes with a built-in FM transmitter capable of broadcasting both call and music audio to your car’s stereo system. While an awesome idea in concept, the FM transmitter is hobbled by the same drawbacks that hinder the performance of dedicated FM transmitters. Namely, in urban areas such as my home of Cincinnati there are so many and so powerful radio stations broadcasting that it is near impossible to find a clear radio frequency for your own in-car broadcasting. And if like me you find yourself traveling to other metro areas, that radio band that is open at home may not be open where you’re going. Once an adequately clear radio band was found the Cruiser transmitted almost without fault, though it did seem to randomly skip every few minutes. While the FM transmitter is a nice touch, an aux-out port would provide much better audio clarity.

Controls

The buttons for the Cruiser are located in three spots: the FM button and a physical power switch (nice touch) are on the left side, the call button and music controls are on the top/front, and the volume rocker is on the right side. The call button behaves just like it would with any headset - tap to answer and tap to hang up. Jabra missed an opportunity to turn large speaker cap into an easy to actuate button, instead opting for the smaller and shinier top edge to serve that function.

Jabra Cruiser Bluetooth Car Kit

The FM button does exactly what you might expect: it toggles the FM radio transmission on and off. The volume rocker switch is dual function; when working as a standalone it controls the volume output from the speaker, and when in FM transmission mode it changes the radio frequency.

While there are four lights up top to provide some feedback (battery, call, bluetooth/power, and FM), most of the feedback you’ll receive comes in the form of a robotic Australian woman. Since you should absolutely be keeping your eye on the road when driving, operating the Cruiser can be an exercise in patience - especially if you need to change radio stations.

Jabra Cruiser Bluetooth Car Kit

In the Box

The Cruiser comes with a thin wire sun visor clip that provides an adequate half-inch of clearance. To ensure that it stays in place, the base also has a gripping pad that helps it stick in place when executing more exciting driving maneuvers (standard practice for any testing of car kits, I assure you). Included in the box are instructions in English, French, and Spanish, a Micro USB cable, and a 12-volt USB port auto charger.

Conclusion

Some of the design decisions made with the Jabra Cruiser bluetooth car kit make me wonder what the folks at Jabra were thinking. It could be a very good quality car kit and has comparable hardware with many other car kits on the market, but the choices made in the name of aesthetics cripple its capabilities. It’ll do the job, but for the price there are better designed car kits on the market.

The Jabra Cruiser Bluetooth Car Kit is available in the PreCentral Store for $89.95, a savings of 10% off the list price of $99.95.

Pros

Great speaker

Cons

Speaker faces away from caller