Most Bluetooth speakerphones for the car are meant for hands-free calls and that's it. The Jabra SP700, however, is one in-car speakerphone that is also compatible with stereo Bluetooth. This means you can stream music wirelessly from a stereo Bluetooth-capable phone to the SP700. And if you want better sound quality, the SP700 even has an FM transmitter that lets you pipe in the audio via your car's stereo. The Jabra SP700 has a retail price of $90 but can be found online for around $50.
The Jabra SP700 follows in the footsteps of Jabra's previous speakerphone, the Jabra SP5050, in terms of minimalist style. Measuring 3.3 inches long by 2.12 inch wide by 1.2 inch thick, the SP700 is one of the slimmest speakerphones we've seen. It has a pretty flat shape, with an oval, egg-like appearance when viewed from the front. Dominating about three-fourths of the surface is a large oval speaker grille. Above it are four LED indicators that show battery status, call status, Bluetooth status, and FM transmitter status.
If you're wondering where the power switch is, the entire top part of the speakerphone actually presses down to act as the multifunction call button. You hold down the button for two seconds to power the SP700 on, and hold it down for four seconds to shut it off. For answering or ending calls, you just need to tap it briefly. On the left spine is the FM button, which you use to transmit the audio to your car's stereo. The volume rocker is on the right spine, as well as the charger jack. All buttons felt easy to find and press.
On the back of the SP700 is a large metal clip that you use to attach to your car's visor. We should note that even though the SP700 can stream music, there aren't any music controls on the device itself - you'll have to manage that from the phone.
Aside from the stereo Bluetooth capability and the FM transmitter, you get some basic features. They include answering, ending, and rejecting calls, last number redial, voice dialing if your phone supports it, and call mute. It also has night driving mode that senses the lack of sunlight, and will shut off the LED indicators so there are no interfering lights when driving at night.
One of the better features of the SP700 is that it gives out voice announcements to tell you the speakerphone's status. It'll let you know when it's powered on, when it's powering down, when it's paired, and when the FM is enabled. It will also announce the incoming caller ID, which we liked quite a bit. If you have FM transmission enabled at the time of an incoming call, the caller's number is actually displayed on your radio using RDS (Radio Data System)--another nice bonus. The Jabra SP700 can provide voice announcements in up to 10 different languages.
We paired the Jabra SP700 with the Apple iPhone 3G and the LG Incite. We were quite impressed with the call quality; callers could hardly hear background noise and there was little-to-no echo from our end. They could still pick up road noise, but it wasn't that bad. That said, we have heard reports that road noise is a bigger issue in larger vehicles, so test it first if you have a van or a truck. We heard our callers loud and clear. We did get quite a bit of static occasionally, but it wasn't a deterrent.
Since the iPhone 3G doesn't have stereo Bluetooth, we tested the streaming music with the LG Incite. The SP700 immediately started to stream music from the phone, without any prompts. The audio quality is on the tinny side of course, but like the call quality, it has plenty of volume.
To transmit music from the SP700 to your car's stereo, simply press the FM button on the speakerphone, and tune in to the announced FM frequency. If you wish to change the FM band, press FM again and then press the Volume up button until you hear "Scanning". You can scan until you find a satisfactory FM frequency. You can use the FM transmitter for both phone calls and streaming audio. We tested this in an older Honda Civic, and the audio quality improved significantly. That said, because we live in a big city like San Francisco, it's hard to find a non-congested FM frequency; you'll likely have better luck in a less congested area. The FM transmitter turns off automatically when not in use.
The Jabra SP700 comes with a USB charger as well as an in-car charger. It has a rated talk time of 14 hours and a rated standby time of 10.6 days.