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Parrot CK3100 review: Parrot CK3100

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We found the available features of the CK3100's voice-command system to be easy to use. To activate the voice-command system, drivers must first go through the one-time set-up process of recording keywords ("phone," "hang-up," etc.) into the device's memory, as well as the more laborious process of voice-tagging all the contacts in their phone book. Each contact needs requires two voice tags--one to enter, one to confirm--to be stored in the system. This process is easier on the CK3100 than on the CK3000 thanks to the presence of the display, which lets drivers select individual contacts for voice tagging on the device itself rather than sending them one at a time from the phone as .vcf files, but it still takes a long time to transfer all the phonebook's contacts. The CK3100 also provides the option of storing up to three numbers (cellular, home, office) for each contact. With all the requisite information entered, the CK3100 is at its most useful, as drivers can place calls without even pressing a button. (Calling John at home, for example, simply requires the following commands: Phone > John > Home.) While we were consistently impressed with the CK3100's ability to understand our voice commands to place calls, we were less impressed with its ability to end them (via the "Hang up" command), especially when driving along at freeway speeds. Instead we often found ourselves having to the end the call manually by pressing the red button.

The CK3100's voice commands are very useful, but tagging contacts takes a while to set up.

When new contacts are added to the cell phone's phonebook, they are automatically copied over to the CK3100's phonebook each time the Bluetooth connection is renewed. In our testing, however, we found one occasion in which this automatic transfer did not happen. When the number entered in our cell phone's phonebook was tagged as a home number, the CK3100 failed to recognize it. It was only after entering a cell phone number that the contact was copied over to the Parrot device (bizarrely, both the cell and the home phone numbers were then available on the CK3100).

One of our favorite functions of the CK3100 is its caller ID feature that calls out the name of an incoming caller if the contact has already been voice tagged. When an incoming call comes in, the CK3100 mutes the stereo and resumes playback after the call is finished. Audio quality for calls through our test car's stock speakers was generally clear and echo-free, and from the other end of the line we sounded comprehensible, albeit with some noticeable background noise when driving along.

In sum
The Parrot CK3100 is a functional and feature-rich option for those who want to make hands-free calls on the road. Its LCD display differentiates it from the CK3000, making contacts and calling options more accessible, and Parrot's voice-command function sets it apart from many other stand-alone speakerphones. While the setup and responsiveness of its voice recognition function could do with some tweaking, the CK3100 still presents a cost-effective alternative to factory-installed Bluetooth calling systems.

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