First Look: Plantronics K100
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First Look: Plantronics K1002:33 /
The Plantronics K100 delivers great-sounding, hands-free calling on both ends of the line, and its FM transmitter is a nice bonus when it works, but look elsewhere if your phone is one of the few that don't support voice-activated dialing.
-You know, these visor mount Bluetooth speaker phones are usually only as good as their speakers and their microphones. However, this unit by Plantronics has a feature that potentially makes it as good as your car speakers by hijacking your FM stereo for output. The K100's interface is pretty simple: users interact with the unit's 3 buttons----FM, multifunction center button, and mute; volume wheel; LED status light; and, of course, the dual microphones and single loud speaker. Over on the back, there's a metal spring clip that holds the unit in place and near your head on your car's sun visor. The K100 pairs using Bluetooth wireless and is compatible with any handset that supports handsfree profile and advanced audio distribution profile, or A2DP, using a supersecret 4-digit PIN that's definitely maybe not 0-0-0-0. After pairing, users are able to receive and initiate calls mostly by interacting with the unit's center button. Now, tapping this button answers or ends incoming calls, and holding it for 2 seconds initiates the paired phone's voice command system. And holding the button for 3 to 4 seconds toggles the unit's power. The K100 is powered by an internal lithium-ion battery that charges in about 2-1/2 hours via this micro USB connection. A micro USB cable and car adapter are included. This dedicated FM button triggers the K100's FM transmission mode, outputting any received audio to an FM radio band that can then be received by your car stereo. When combined with the K100's A2DP audio streaming functionality, this speaker phone can serve as a bridge between your high-tech Bluetooth smart phone and low-tech car stereo, outputting music or turn-by-turn directions over your vehicle's speakers. However, we've typically found that, in addition to the reduced audio quality that's inherent to FM transmission, handsfree calls made through car speakers can suffer from increased echo, depending on the unit's placement and the volume of the speakers. We have to spend a few more miles in a few more cars before we can tell if the K100's dual microphone DSP and echo cancellation setup can sidestep these issues. For that, you'll have to check out the full review of the K100 on CNET.com. Until then, I'm Antuan Goodwin and this has been your first look at the Plantronics K100 in-car speaker phone.