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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Parrot Minikit Smart review:

Parrot Minikit Smart

The Minikit Smart connects to your car's 12-volt outlet for charging with a 3-foot Mini-USB cable and a 12-volt USB adapter and a trio of shorter cables that end in mini-USB, Micro-USB, and Apple's 30-pin dock connector to allow the Smart to charge your phone. In addition to drawing current from the vehicle, the Smart also features an internal rechargeable battery with up to a 10-hour talk time or 1 week of standby, for users who don't want cables draped across their dashboard.

A powered USB port and these USB dongles allow the Smart to keep a paired device charged.

Pairing and performance
Pairing a phone happens via Bluetooth using a four-digit PIN. Up to 10 phones can be stored in the Minikit's memory and automatically reconnected in order of pairing. The Smart supports the hands-free profile, A2DP for audio streaming, and PBAP for syncing address book entries.

Users interact with the Minikit Smart via its physical controls. Tapping the green button causes the unit to ask, "Who do you want to call?" in its crisp British accent. Thanks to its PBAP address book sync and automatic voice tag generation, users can then initiate calls by simply speaking the name of the desired recipient. Holding the green button automatically redials the last call initiated from the handset. Tapping the red button ends a call in progress.

When a call is incoming, the Minikit speaks the name of the caller if present in the address book. Users can then accept or reject the call with the green or red button, respectively.

More complex functions are handled with the center knob. Tapping the knob brings up the Minikit's text-to-speech spoken menu and rotating cycles through the options. Users can adjust the volume, access the stored phonebook, initiate a manual update of the phone book, manually create voice tags for voice-dialing tricky names, or initiate a firmware update using the dial and the menu. When a call is in progress or audio is being streamed, the knob defaults to volume control.

The Parrot Minikit Smart's cradle and loudspeaker design makes it useful for both calls and turn-by-turn directions.

In sum
We found the Minikit Smart to be extremely easy to use, although admittedly we'd surmounted most of the learning curve with previous Parrot devices. However, thanks to a simple control scheme and a fairly decent voice command system, the Minikit definitely ranks among the easier to use hands-free kits. However, by integrating a cradle, a USB charger, and the most commonly used charging pigtails, the Minikit Smart becomes much more useful to users of mobile navigation apps.

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