Parrot Minikit Neo Bluetooth speakerphone review: Parrot Minikit Neo Bluetooth speakerphone

Users are given the choice to use either the Minikit's own voice command engine or to hand off voice command duties to a paired smartphone, which is great for those who already have a voice command app that they love, such as Vlingo or Siri. The Minikit Neo also features a function called Magic Words that allows users to accept or reject an incoming call or initiate an outbound call without touching the unit. Incoming calls are announced via the text-to-speech Caller ID system, including the name of the caller if stored in your address book; simply say "reject" or "accept" when prompted to answer or send the call to voice mail, respectively. When not in a call, say "Minikit" and the Neo will ask you, "Who do you want to call?" Simply answer with an address book contact and you'll be connected. Magic Words for incoming and outbound calls can be disabled or enabled independently of one another.

Software: Neo App Suite
Parrot also offers a free companion smartphone app to go along with the Parrot Minikit Neo hardware. The Neo, of course, can be used without the software and the software can be used without the Neo, but many of the advanced functions work best when the two work together. An iOS version of the app is "coming soon," according to Parrot, but at time of review only the Android version was actually available for download, so that's what I tested with.

The free Neo App Suite contains a number of convenience and customization options for the Minikit Neo. Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The app's home screen is littered with a variety of icons for its many functions, including Find My Car, Parking Timer, Driving Time Reminder, Voice Recognition, Dual Mode, Auto-Reply SMS, Customize Jingle, Neo Information, and Help Pairing.

Find My Car displays the latitude, longitude, and street address of the last reported pairing location of the Minikit Neo, which is (presumably) still in your car. This screen also features options to display the location on a map, to share the location with others, and to make text notes about the location.

The Parking Timer and Driving Time Reminder are timers that measure the amount of time that you've spent away from and behind the wheel of your car, respectively. The Parking Timer lets users set a countdown so they won't return to a parking meter to find a ticket. The Driving Time Reminder lets users know when it's time to take a break during long hauls. Both can be be programmed to automatically stop or start when the Minikit Neo is paired or unpaired.

The Find My Car feature displays the location where the phone disconnected from the Minikit Neo. Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Voice Recognition allows users to switch the Neo between its own, onboard voice command system and the phone's voice command system. This change can also be initiated using the physical rotary knob on the Minikit itself. Likewise, Dual Mode allows users to activate or deactivate the Dual Mode function and switch between the two paired devices.

Auto-Reply SMS allows users to automatically send an SMS message in response to inbound text messages and to rejected callers to let them know that you're driving and will respond when you're safely stopped. There's also a text field that allows users to customize the SMS message that goes out.

Users who'd rather not text while driving can use Auto-Reply SMS to respond to incoming texts and rejected calls. Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Customize Jingle is a fun feature that allows users to record replacement sounds for the power-on and power-off jingles that play when the Minikit Neo turns on or off. Simply hit record, capture the sound, and you're done. If you get bored with your recorded sound, you can always record a new one or simply reset back to the default jingle with the touch of a button.

Finally, the Neo Information and Help Pairing options display text information about the paired Minikit Neo device, links to Parrot tech support, and step-by-step instructions to help users with pairing devices with the Neo.

The Minikit Neo brings clever technology and good looks to the Minikit line of Bluetooth speakerphones. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

In sum
The Minikit Neo itself is a top-notch option for speakerphone seekers. Audio quality on both sides of the call is fantastic. Features like the NFC pairing, automatic contact syncing, and Magic Words voice command help to make this one of the easiest to use Bluetooth speakerphones that I've ever tested. If you have access to an NFC-enabled Android phone and the Minikit Neo app, you'll likely never have to fiddle with an on-device menu. Simply tap and start talking.

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  • CE Product Type Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone