With its simple interface and slim profile, the Parrot Minikit Slim is a very attractive looking Bluetooth speakerphone. Dig a little deeper and you'll find an intuitive feature set that makes placing calls from the device simple. However, use the Minikit Slim for an extended period of time and you'll begin to notice a shoddier build quality than you'd expect from an otherwise great device.
The first thing we noticed about the Parrot Minikit Slim is how slim it was. Thanks to NXT flat panel speaker technology, the conventional conical speaker is replaced by a flat, vibrating panel, effectively making the entire front surface of the device a speaker and resulting in an extremely compact design. At the business end of the device, there is a pinhole for the omnidirectional microphone, below which is the rotary button, which can be twisted to access menus and adjust volume and pressed to make selections. Flanking the rotary button are the call answer and call end buttons. The end button also serves the dual function of being the power switch.
Once powered on, there's no visual confirmation in the form of a power light, which led to more than one confusing instance where we attempted to turn the device on and actually ended up turning it off. However, once we'd learned to trust that the device could handle its power modes on its own, operation went smoothly.
The backside of the device is home to the metal wire visor clip, which felt like it was going to break off at any minute and didn't do a very good job of holding the device in place in our test vehicle. In fact, at one point during testing, the speakerphone actually fell off the visor, scuffing the device in a few places. We think overall build quality is definitely an area that needs improvement.
A rechargeable battery allows the Parrot Minikit Slim to be used without a power cable dangling for a claimed 10-hour talk time or 20 days on standby. The battery is not replaceable and charges with an included 12-volt micro USB adapter. Our test unit also shipped with a standard micro USB cable, which allowed us to charge the device outside of the vehicle using any powered USB port, such as the one on our desktop computer.
The device pairs via Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR with up to five separate phones. Once paired, the Minikit Slim is able to download contacts from the phone for quick access. Up to 1,000 contacts can be synced per phone with a cap of 2,500 total contacts for the device.
Contacts are accessed via rotary encoder or voice recognition dialing. The Minikit also features a redial function, accessed by holding the call button for two seconds.
After charging our Parrot Minikit Slim for the prescribed four hours using the mini USB 12-volt charger, we powered up the device, which instantly went into pairing mode. We located the device with our Bluetooth enabled phone and after a quick PIN entry, paired the two devices. The Minikit Slim immediately began downloading the complete phonebook from the connected phone.
Once the phonebook download was complete, we were able to access the entries by pressing the rotary encoder. By rotating the dial, we were able to select from phonebook, receive contacts, and select volume options spoken aloud by the device's text-to-speech function. Selecting phonebook, the device then spoke aloud the letter A. By rotating the dial, we were able to select the first letter of our contact's name, V. Finally, the device spoke aloud the names of the contacts beginning with the letter V as we rotated the dial. Settling on "Voice mail," we pressed the rotary encoder in and the device then completed the call. The whole process is remarkably fast and intuitive, and didn't require one glance at the phone past the pairing process, but the Minikit still had a trick up its sleeve.
By tapping the Call button, the Minikit Slim asked us, "Who would you like to call?" We simply said, "voice mail" and the call was completed. For some oddly spelled names, such as Frantz, the device had issues with recognizing our pronunciation, but the Minikit Slim recognized simple names, like Brandon, on the first try.
Call quality was clear on both ends of the conversation, thanks to noise reduction and echo cancellation. Audio quality of the flat panel speaker was a little tinny, but definitely good enough for speech with a fairly loud maximum volume. Because the device is full duplex, there was very little of the clipping that typically plagues speakerphones.
During our testing of the Parrot Minikit Slim, we couldn't help but compare it with the Editors' Choice Motorola Motorokr T505. The Minikit Slim doesn't offer the range of multimedia features offered by the T505, such as A2DP stereo audio streaming or FM transmitter integration. When it comes to core calling functions, however, the Parrot is slightly easier to use. Voice recognition and automatic downloading of a paired phone's address book are arguably more useful features that the T505 just doesn't have. Factor in the Parrot's lower price ($99 compared with the Motorola's $139) and the Parrot Minikit Slim is a worthwhile alternative to the Motorokr T505. However, the build quality of the Parrot unit, particularly the visor clip, cheapens this otherwise excellent hands-free solution; and it's this very issue that lowers the Parrot's score enough to keep it from earning an Editors' Choice.