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Sony Ericsson HCB-120 review: Sony Ericsson HCB-120

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The Sony Ericsson HCB-120 can be programmed using a paired cell phone's handset or by voice command.

Having dialed a number using the paired Samsung phone, the call automatically transferred to the HCB-120, allowing us to continue our conversation hands-free. One of our principal complaints with the Sony Ericsson HCB-120 is that its volume--even when set to maximum--is too low to clearly hear the caller on the other end of the line when driving on the freeway or with the windows open. When you can hear the caller on the other end of the line, sound quality is crisp and clear, as it is from the other end of the line.

While we had no trouble muting the call using the speakerphone, we were unable to hang up using the End call button, meaning that we had to end the call using the phone itself. There were no such issues with the Sony Ericsson phone, however.

For voice dialing via the HCB-120, the Samsung phone--surprisingly--proved to be more capable than the Sony Ericsson phone. This was thanks to the Samsung's Voice Signal software, which indexes all the names in the phone's address book making them available to dial by voice and can also understand spoken commands for numbers. With the Samsung phone paired, we just had to press the Talk button on the speakerphone, bark out "Call work/ John/ pizza/" etc., and the two devices conspired to do the rest, asking for confirmation and then placing the call. By contrast, the Sony Ericsson handset requires users to create individual voice tags for each entry in their phone books and doesn't offer spoken-number dialing.

While voice dialing via the Samsung phone, one major gripe that we have with the speakerphone was that it did not allow us to make more than one call. Instead, we had to turn the device off and back on to make a second call by voice--a flaw that drivers will soon find annoying. Again, the Sony Ericsson phone showed no such problem. Accordingly, the HCB-120's voice-dialing functionality is only as good as that of the phone to which it is connected.

In sum
With the right cell phone paired up, the stylish Sony Ericsson HCB-120 has the potential to be a very useful in-car hands-free calling interface. Just make sure you test your phone with it before you splash out more than $100 on this device.

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