If the product above looks familiar, don't be surprised. The Parrot Minikit+ shares not only a design but also its name with the previously reviewed Parrot Minikit Slim. I was a bit nonplussed about what the suffix change from Slim to + meant, but it turns out that Parrot has made incremental changes across the board to the Minikit's already great performance.
Where design is concerned, the Minikit+ doesn't differ considerably from the original Minikit Slim. Its dimensions are roughly the same: 2.4 inches wide, 4.3 inches long, and about 1.1 inches deep at its thickest end. The device is now all black, versus black and silver, but the business end of the unit is still home to the same control knob flanked by call accept and end buttons.
The rest of the unit's user-facing surface is dominated by a flat panel speaker, which is loud and clear for the portion of the audible spectrum that the average human voice lives in, but is probably too tinny and distorted to be called "enjoyable." Then again, just because the Minikit+ can play music doesn't mean that it was designed for or should be used for such a thing.
The unit attaches to a vehicle with a thin, wire hanger that sits flush with the device's chassis when not in use and stretches to accommodate most sun visors. In the event that your vehicle's sun visor is simply too thick, Parrot also includes an elastic band that wraps around the visor, giving the Minikit+ something to grip.
The Minikit+ also ships with a 12-volt-to-USB power adapter and a length of USB cable for charging the speakerphone via its Mini-USB port (located on the unit's edge). The Minikit+ can be used with or without the power adapter in place thanks to its internal battery, which gets up to 12 hours of talk time, 15 days of standby, or some combination thereof with a 3.5-hour charge. The device accomplishes this extremely long standby time by shutting almost complete down when not in use or when out of range of a paired phone and reactivating when its internal motion sensor notices that you've re-entered the vehicle, jostling the chassis with your body weight.
The Bluetooth-powered Parrot Minikit+ really only does two things: functions as a speakerphone with hands-free profile-enabled devices and streams audio from A2DP-enabled devices. The latter function is more of a bonus than an actual selling point, but we'll come back to that momentarily.
After pairing with a Bluetooth-enabled phone via a four-digit PIN, the Minikit+ will automatically attempt to download the user's address book. An option to manually trigger an address book sync is also present in the device's menus. There's room in the internal memory for a claimed 2,000 contacts per paired phone, and since the Minikit+ can remember pairing data for up to 10 phones, that brings the maximum number of saved contacts to 20,000.
Not only can this speakerphone remember the last 10 phones it's connected to, but it can also pair with up to two of them simultaneously thanks to its implementation of multipoint technology. Now that doesn't mean that you'll be able carry on two simultaneous conversations, but the device will assign a unique ringtone to each of the two currently paired phone so that you'll know which line you're answering.
Also helping you to know who's on the end of that incoming call is a spoken caller ID system. Unfortunately, it only reads aloud entries that are already in you device's memory, but that's more of a "nature of caller ID for mobile phones" issue than a fault of the Minikit+ itself.
Speaking of speaking, you and the Minikit+ will be doing quite a bit of chatting back and forth because there's no visual readout to be found on the device. All of the device's menus, accessible by pushing and twisting the control knob, are spoken aloud to you as you go. Likewise, the unit can also recognize your spoken inputs for initiating, accepting, or rejecting calls. Simply tap the green Call button, speak the name of anyone in your synced address book, and the Minikit+ will initiate a call. In the event of multiple numbers for a contact, the unit may ask if you mean Home, Office, or Other. Or you could just bypass the second question by simply saying, for example, "Call Antuan at home," "Call Antuan at work," or even "Call Antuan at the office." Of course, you can also call people who are not named Antuan.
Additionally, when a call is incoming, the user can simply say "Accept" or "Reject" to accept or reject the call without even touching a button. Parrot calls this feature Magic Words.
The Minikit+ speaker's other trick is, as mentioned before, streaming audio from an A2DP Bluetooth device. Simply pair up and the Minikit+ will output any sound that your phone sends to it. While I used this function briefly to play back music and podcasts during our testing, I don't really recommend that you do the same in your day-to-day use. As I mentioned before, the audio quality is OK, but not what I'd call good enough for enjoyment of music playback; for that you'll want to look elsewhere. What it is good enough for is the playback of spoken turn-by-turn directions if you happen to also be using your paired smartphone for navigation or having text messages read aloud if you're running an app that enables such a thing.
Parrot Minikit+ call quality sample Listen now:
The Parrot Minikit+ packs all of the basic features that we expect in an in-car speakerphone. And although its screenless, knob-based menu system can be a bit tedious to use, the Minikit+ more than makes up for it with its great voice-activated dialer and hands-free Magic Word feature. Audio quality from the speaker is passably good, but could stand a bit of improvement. However, the great microphone's noise cancellation and echo reduction ensure that the caller on the other end hears you loud and clear.