So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Hands-free calling with voice recognition and audio streaming
- Reasonable outgoing audio, easy to set up and use, voice recognition, music playback via A2DP
- Incoming audio quality could be improved, FM technology unreliable, recording voice a hit and miss affair
The PMK5800 is a reasonable but far from outstanding choice if you need a hands-free speakerphone in the car. The inclusion of FM transmission is a positive feature because it allows you to use your car stereo for audio; however, the technology itself is unreliable.
Price$ 139.00 (AUD)
Boasting Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to stream mobile phone calls via FM transmission, Parrot’s PMK5800 is a worthwhile solution for hands-free calling in the car. In addition to being a regular hands-free speakerphone, this unit plays music from any phone with A2DP Bluetooth and also features voice recognition.
A large part of the PMK5800's appeal lies in the fact that it has been designed with convenience in mind. Simply plugging into any cigarette lighter socket, the unit draws power from your car and doesn’t require batteries or recharging. Aesthetically, the plain design isn’t very appealing, although the matte black finish should match most modern car interiors. Unfortunately, the colour of the red backlight on the small LED display can’t be changed to match the dash lights in your car.
Setting up the PMK5800 is as simple as plugging it into your cigarette lighter and connecting to your mobile phone via Bluetooth. The unit enters pairing mode the first time it is powered on, and we were paired in just a few seconds. Next, you’ll have to synchronise your car radio with the PMK5800 in order to transmit sound via your car speakers. It's advisable to find a frequency with as little interference as possible — simply match this frequency on the PMK8500 by using the dial. You can then choose to save it as a preset by pressing the preset button for two seconds and selecting an empty number.
Call quality is a mixed bag. Incoming audio could be improved: we found ourselves having to turn the volume of our car audio system up. It's good enough to hold a conversation while driving, but incoming audio is susceptible to interference and isn’t as crisp and clean as we expected. On the other hand, outgoing audio is excellent; our callers were satisfied with voice quality, even when we were driving with the window down.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the PMK5800 is the technology behind it. While FM transmission is cost-effective and hassle-free to install, you’ll never get the same quality as a wired system. We had to find a new frequency while driving, as the one we added before we started the journey became more susceptible to interference.
The PMK5800 is capable of voice recognition, using what Parrot dubs keywords and magic words. You can record these to match your voice and then say the commands when you want to activate a feature (for example, answering an incoming call or ending a current call). You can also call numbers in your phonebook by first sending them via Bluetooth and then adding a voiceprint to that particular contact. The voice recognition worked reasonably well, although recording words is a hit and miss affair; sometimes we had to record them three or four times before they registered properly. Once a word is recorded, simply press the answer button and say the command to activate that particular function.
The PMK5800 is also capable of streaming music from your A2DP Bluetooth-enabled phone or music player to your car stereo. This feature works reasonably well, though the FM transmission isn’t reliable for any sort of prolonged listening.
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