Sony Ericsson's HCB-120 is an in-car speakerphone that actually looks like a speaker. Its compact chassis, sleek controls, and colorful display make it easy on the eye, although its limited volume settings make it less easy on the ear. While it doesn't provide a means of manually dialing out, the HCB-120 does support voice recognition for appropriately equipped paired phones, and can be used to continue calls made from a phone handset. Despite its good looks, however, the HCB-120 has some significant usability issues when paired to some non-Sony Ericsson phones.
The Sony Ericsson HCB-120 is a stylish accessory designed to mount on a car's sun visor. Its cloth-covered speaker and classy matte silver controls differentiate from many bulkier in-car calling devices, while its built-in microphone obviates the need for an unsightly boom. We also like the simplicity of its four buttons, which are sized and labeled sufficiently to enable drivers to use the device while driving. We particularly like the one-touch call mute button, which is perfect for telling the kids to keep it down in the back when that important call comes in.
Drivers can customize the color of the device's single-line display according to their car's interior (or their mood), although some colors--such as dark blue--are difficult to see in daylight against the black background, especially through the glossy reflective display cover. On the positive side, the HCB-120 has a built-in accelerometer that turns the text the right way up depending on the orientation of the device. The HCB-120 can be paired with up to five different phones, each of which can be assigned a separate text readout color.
Features and performance
The Sony Ericsson HCB-120 can be used to transfer calls made with a cell phone handset or to make and end calls using voice commands. Pairing the device to a phone is a straightforward process: Search for the device using your Bluetooth-enabled handset, enter a PIN code, and you're good to go. For our test of the device, we paired two phones, the Samsung SGH-T619 and the Sony Ericsson W880i.
Having dialed a number using the paired Samsung phone, the call automatically transferred to the HCB-120, allowing us to continue our conversation hands-free. One of our principal complaints with the Sony Ericsson HCB-120 is that its volume--even when set to maximum--is too low to clearly hear the caller on the other end of the line when driving on the freeway or with the windows open. When you can hear the caller on the other end of the line, sound quality is crisp and clear, as it is from the other end of the line.