Adding Bluetooth cell phone integration to your car is as easy as clipping the Supertooth II to your visor. But its limited feature set means you'll still have to reach for your cell phone to dial out.
Larger than a cell phone
The Supertooth II is by no means a small device, especially for a cell phone accessory. Measuring 5.4 by 2.4 by 1 inches, it's two to three times larger than most of the phones it's likely to be paired with. The oversized controls and the large speaker also don't do anything to minimize the feeling of bulk, and when combined with the silver and matte-black finish, the unit has a bit of a toylike feel. However, the large volume knob and call-pickup button make it easy to use when driving.
The Supertooth II attaches to the sun visor with a clip that is held on by two strong magnets located on the back of the unit. As this unit is likely to be occasionally transported in the confines of a purse or a briefcase, we are a bit worried about how these magnets might affect any magnetically sensitive items such as credit cards, a BART ticket, or even a driver's license.
In keeping with the simple controls, there is no On button on the Supertooth II. Instead, there is a microphone arm, which also holds the call-answer button, and you can lift this to either a 55- or 210-degree position to activate the system; this also makes it easy to tell when the device is on or off. Also, the two microphone positions provide for driving with the sun visor either up or down. Unfortunately, with the visor down, the volume control and the call-reject button (located under the microphone arm) both become awkward to use.
Although a bit short on features, the Supertooth II does sport a long-lasting lithium-ion battery, which should yield 20 hours of talk time or 800 hours of standby time and can be recharged in approximately 3 hours. Depending on the phone, the unit can be used in either hands-free or headset mode, as well as paired with two different phones but connected to only one at a time; this makes it easier to share.
Unfortunately, the Supertooth II has no built-in voice recognition, so we hesitate to call this a truly hands-free device. Since our Sony Ericsson T610's built-in voice recognition didn't work very well with the Supertooth II--the phone requires recording voice tags directly through the phone, so it doesn't seem to understand words spoken from a distance--we found ourselves using the keypad to make nearly all our outgoing calls. The kit also includes an earpiece for keeping conversations a bit more private, as well as an A/C adapter and a car charger.
Good sound on the go
Connecting is very easy with the Supertooth II. Our test phone required the hands-free mode, so we just had to push two buttons simultaneously for several seconds until we heard a beep and saw the lights change. We then had to follow the instructions for the phone, and we were done--the total time was less than 30 seconds. We did notice, however, that the unit showed up as an HCC-200, not as a Supertooth II.
The Supertooth II's 2-inch speaker is powerful enough to be easily heard at speed--even with the sun visor down so that when the speaker faced the windshield, we didn't need full volume. We did feel there was a little more distortion than we would have liked, but the sound was more than acceptable. To the person you might be calling, the system sounds much like a normal speakerphone, thanks in part to the DSP noise cancellation and echo suppression that eliminated many of the extraneous cockpit sounds. However, if you sit too far away from the unit, your voice can sound a bit weak to the person on the other end of the call, so proper microphone placement is important.
One of the more annoying things about the Supertooth II is that our cell phone rang for about 3 seconds before the system began its Twilight Zone ring. If we tried to use the Supertooth II to pick up a call before it started ringing, it didn't, plus it would lock out from picking up that phone call. This meant we had to pick up our phone and answer it manually; fortunately, we were able to transfer the call to the Supertooth II for hands-free talking.
The Supertooth II's multilanguage manual is a bit thin, with only 8 pages in each language, but a more detailed 73-page manual (English only) with phone-specific instructions is available on the manufacturer's Web site as a PDF. Tech and warranty support can be accessed via e-mail or an international call to Australia.