SuperTooth Handsfree Assistant
The SuperTooth HD's Handsfree Assistant (HFA) Web service integration is handled via a dial-in service powered by Dial2Do. Registering for the service online by providing an activation code that's printed on the back of the device and a phone number gets you six months of free access to the service. While on the SuperTooth HFA site, you can provide log-in information for your Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail accounts and add contacts that you'd like to be able to access via voice. When the HFA button is pressed, your phone automatically dials the service.
You then interact with the HFA menu using your voice. Available commands are "Send a text," "Facebook," "Send an e-mail," "Listen to e-mail," "Twitter," and "Listen to Twitter."
"Send a text" and "Send an e-mail" will fire off a quick message to a contact added using the Web service. If you haven't added a contact online, you will not be able to send that contact a message, so take some time and flesh out your contact list before you hit the road.
With other commands, such as Facebook and Twitter, you can blast messages out to your social network. Simply say, for example, "Facebook, this is a test," and the service will interpret your speech and add a post saying "This is a test" to your Facebook wall. There is no confirmation, so you'll have to trust that it accurately interpreted what you said or simply deal with it when it hears something wrong. Fortunately, each update includes a link to an audio file that your confused friends and followers can listen to in the event of a miscommunication. Some users will find this a bit clunky and inelegant--we did--but others will appreciate that the system stays out of your way and doesn't ask you to repeat yourself over and over again.
Finally, there are the "Listen" commands for Twitter and e-mail. As it turns out, having your Twitter feed or e-mail read to you isn't as pleasant as one might think. Firstly, because the system uses your phone's voice connection and the SuperTooth HD's speaker to do the reading, the words can be a bit muffled and difficult to understand. This is particularly true for Twitter when the system attempts to read the alphanumeric mishmash that is the average Twitter handle. The second major issue here is that the HFA system doesn't just read the new part of an e-mail but the entire message. That includes time stamps and quoted text, which can get tedious when listening to long message threads.
There are voice commands for functions like next, previous, and reply you can use while listening to your inbox or Twitter feed, but although the specs list the SuperTooth HD's microphone and speaker as full-duplex, the system had a hard time understanding our commands while it was talking. Which means that you'll either have to wait for a break in its speech to jump in with a quick command or attempt to interrupt the HFA and end up repeating your command when it invariably says, "I don't understand what you're saying." The two methods are equally annoying, which is why we mostly used the HFA system to send messages, rather than receive them.
The service only works with the number that you've added using the Web site and up to three numbers can be registered. After the initial six months of free use, you can elect to continue the SuperTooth Handsfree Assistant service for $3.99 per month or $39.99 per year. Also available is a SuperTooth Handsfree Assistant Pro service that adds more voice-activated Web services, including Blogger, Evernote, the New York Times, PingFm, Remember the Milk, Textamundo, 30 Boxes, Toodledo, Tumblr, Vitalist, and WordPress, as well as calendar, reminder, and weather services, but that will run you $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year.
If you elect to discontinue the HFA service at the end of the six-month trial, you'll be stuck with a big non-programmable HFA button that does nothing.
The SuperTooth HD's Handsfree Assistant service is interesting and, given a bit of patience and forethought on the part of the user, works as advertised. It's far from perfect, but it's great for quickly firing off short text messages or Twitter posts that, for example, let your friends know you'll be running late or that the reservation has been changed. There are iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android apps that will do an even better job for a much lower price than the $39.99 per year that SuperTooth is asking. However, if you don't own a smartphone, SuperTooth HD's Handsfree Assistant is an adequate way to handle texting and social networking while on the road.
Outside of the value that you might assign to Handsfree Assistant, the SuperTooth HD is still a very good, solidly performing Bluetooth speakerphone. You likely will not be disappointed with its performance and quality, but the HD didn't wow us the way the Jabra Freeway did with its exceptional audio quality or the BlueAnt S4 did with its voice command system. At the end of the day, unless you're interested in Handsfree Assistant (and will to pay to keep using it past the six months included), you'll find little reason to choose the SuperTooth HD over the other visor-mount speakerphones on the market.