Look Ma, No Hands!
Washington State will go ‘hands free’ for cell phone use in the car on July 1st, so agents (and everyone else) shouldn’t be driving around with one hand up to their ear anymore. Well…that’s the intent anyway. The Washington State Patrol says you could face up to a $125 fine, although it is suppose to be a secondary offense. Real Estate agents are notorious for this, myself included. Fortunately, for several years I have had an integrated hands-free system in my car (Acura RL) which has given me a head start on being compliant.
I thought I would mention some options for agents, or for that matter anyone who spends a lot of time on the phone in their car, who are just taking the plunge into the deep blue-tooth ocean of products to help them figure out which device might be better suited for them. But don’t just go out and buy one of these devices. Do your research and check with your provider about what they offer and recommend. These days many products and services are specific to wireless vendors, like Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T.
First of all, you’ll need a bluetooth capable cell phone. Many, if not most, of the newer cell phones have this capability. But if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to upgrade. These days people change out their cell phones pretty frequently anyway. But if you have been waiting, now is probably a good time. Just be sure you understand how your cell phone plan will be affected and hopefully your carrier won’t force you into signing a new extended service contract.
If you have a newer model car that has integrated bluetooth capabilities you’ll want to check which phones work with it (not all do) and use the products they recommend, if possible. This information should be in your manual. When my car was introduced integrated blue-tooth was still new and it did not specifically support my phone and service (a Palm Treo w/Verizon), but fortunately I was able to trick it (read “hack”). It would be a real drag to decide to buy a $50,000 car because of it’s bluetooth capability only to find out it won’t work with your phone or service.
If you don’t have integrated bluetooth in your car, then you should consider getting either a headset or component speaker system. Most headsets these days just fit in or around your ear and are pretty small. They often use a microphone technology that relies on the vibration of your jawbone, much like your inner ear, which keeps it very small and helps with noise cancellation – cool huh?
Here are some hands-free bluetooth earbud and speakerphone options from $65 to $125:
The New Jawbone – Jawbone is the hot bling-bling of the bluetooth world right now. Their marketing is aimed at the fashion-conscious among us. This is perfect for the agent who is most worried how it will fit in with their wardrobe. The have good noise canceling technology too.
Jabra’s SP5050 – This unit is made to be clipped to your visor and has a speaker system built in. Jabra is well known and were the first to come out with hands-free bluetooth headsets and use digital signal processing (DSP) technology.
BlueAnt’s Supertooth 3 – Another visor clip-on speakerphone, the Supertooth 3 announces the name or ID of the caller when the phone rings – just say ‘OK’ to accept the call. This device is suppose to be very easy to install and it uses ‘Text-to Speech’ software. The voice prompts provide guidance and assistance install and to help pair the device and upload your cell phone’s address book. When a call is received, the Supertooth 3 announces the incoming caller’s name or number. Just say ‘OK’ to accept the call. You also have a choice of 6 languages.
Venturi Mini – The Venturi Mini directs incoming calls to the cars speakers and includes a FM A2DP audio player and no headset or wires are needed. With phonebook download the incoming caller appears on the Venturi Mini and your car radio simultaneously. This unit plugs into your lighter plug in and offers USB support too, which means you can charge other devices.
You’re going to need to configure your bluetooth cell phone with your hands-free integrated car system or your bluetooth hands-free device. (wireless headset or speakerphone). Once you pair the device and phone you’ll need to do some set up and preferences. Carefully read the manuals regarding hands-free dialing with your Address book and configuring everything to match your network (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T). Most likely you’ll need to “train” the system to recognize your voice and / or connect phrases with numbers. You may need to tell it when you say “Call Jim” to dial the appropriate number.
Take the time to do this and it will be worth your while. This is what the “hands-free” is all about. Now you can impress youir clients with your tech-savvy skills and stay out of jail at the same time!
Any RCG Readers want to jump in and share their favorite hands-free bluetooth goodies?