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Call Capture review: Call Capture

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The Good The Call Capture cell phone antenna improved our cell phone signal strength by one bar, enough to make a difference in some situations.

The Bad Installation of Call Capture isn't very clean, and it's made difficult by body contact with the antenna, causing the signal strength to change.

The Bottom Line Call Capture will benefit a limited amount of people who have extra accessory outlets in their cars and frequently drive in areas where cell signals fade due to distance.

5.0 Overall

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Call Capture

Designed to enhance cell phone signals in a car, Call Capture is an antenna system powered by a car's 12-volt power supply. The system includes a number of wires and components that have to be placed within a car's interior, making it a time-consuming process moving it from one car to another. We didn't find the gain in signal strength to be very dramatic, but in areas with very spotty cell coverage, it might make a difference.

The Call Capture kit consists of an amplifier unit, an internal antenna with a sticky back mount, an external magnetic antenna, and a 12-volt cigarette-lighter adapter. Installation seems to be straightforward at first but in practice is a bit more complicated. The first step is to connect the power supply to the amplifier, then connect both the internal and external antennas--easy enough. For the next step, the kit's instructions say to position both antennas so that the little light on the amplifier turns green, indicating excellent signal amplification. What's frustrating here, especially for the internal antenna, is that as soon as you take your hands away, the signal changes. In the end, we settled for an orange light, meaning merely good signal amplification.

With the antennas positioned, we placed the amplifier under the passenger seat and routed the cables to minimize the mess; it would have been nice if the kit included some self-adhesive wire guides to keep things neat. Considering the way the cables are likely to be routed, the power-supply cord should be protected the same way the antenna cables are, as people will naturally be putting them under floor mats and in other areas where chafing could be an issue.

Although Call Capture is supposed to be a portable unit, the trouble with finding the optimum positions and routing the wires means this isn't something to be moved on a regular basis. In our testing with a Sony Ericsson T610, we got one bar of improvement in signal strength. Although not a radical improvement, Call Capture could keep you talking for a few miles, where signal strength would normally drop down to zero, as long as it is distance--not obstructions--causing the signal loss. The antenna's use of our one available accessory power outlet in our test car excluded the use of any other portable devices or even our cell phone charger.

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