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SuperTooth Crystal review: SuperTooth Crystal

SuperTooth Crystal

Antuan Goodwin

Antuan Goodwin

Reviews Editor / Cars

Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and performance to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.

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4 min read

The SuperTooth Crystal is fairly basic in appearance. The pill-shaped Bluetooth speakerphone's top surface appears to consist of a single black anodized-aluminum panel. It's also shown on SuperTooth's Web site in blue, purple, silver, and white.

SuperTooth Crystal

SuperTooth Crystal

The Good

The <b>SuperTooth Crystal</b> in-car Bluetooth speakerphone features quality construction with a metal faceplate and a snappy magnetic mounting clip. The Crystal can display its battery level on a paired iPhone's status bar. Simple pairing eliminates the need for a PIN and multipoint allows two phones to be simultaneously connected.

The Bad

The placement of the USB charging port means the device can't be charged while it's mounted.

The Bottom Line

The SuperTooth Crystal is a simple Bluetooth car speakerphone, relying largely on your smartphone to do the heavy lifting, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it easy to live with.

Controls consist of one main multifunction button surrounded by a silver ring and four secondary buttons for volume up and down, power, and cancel, which are integrated into the aluminum panel.

Near the Multifunction button is a small slit through which the microphone listens. DSP Echo cancellation and a feature called Double Noise Cancellation are designed to ensure that the recipient of your call hears you as clearly as possible. Although most of the SuperTooth Crystal's faceplate is occupied by a large grille, only about a third of that actually opens up to the speaker. Audio quality is good, but we'll get back to that shortly.

Flipping the unit over reveals its matte black plastic rear panel (always black regardless of faceplate color with the exception of the white model, which is all white) where you'll find the Micro-USB charging port and a rather strong magnet. This odd charging port placement pretty much ensures that you won't be able to charge the SuperTooth Crystal while driving, but with up to 40 hours of talk time or 1,000 hours of standby time from a 3-hour charge, you should be able to manage.

The large magnet connects the speakerphone to its included metal visor clip. This configuration allows the SuperTooth to be swiveled easily (although, as it doesn't have a display to read, the only benefit to properly orienting the device is that you can read the SuperTooth logo type). When leaving the vehicle, it's also easy to turn off the unit and grab it, leaving the clip in place on the visor. Upon returning, simply slap the Crystal in place. I like this setup, because without the clip, the slim SuperTooth Crystal fits rather easily into a pocket.

Setup and pairing
The unit is powered on by pressing the power button, of course. On the first boot, the SuperTooth will go directly into pairing mode, which makes the unit visible for connection in your phone's menu. After a simple four-digit PIN input, the unit makes the connection to your phone and you're ready to call. With phones that support Secure Simple Pairing (SPP), the PIN isn't even a requirement -- just select and go. The unit can be powered off by holding the power button, and on subsequent boots it will automatically seek your paired phone and go straight into Ready mode.

If you'd like to pair additional phones (the SuperTooth Crystal can remember up to eight distinct devices and pair with up to two of them simultaneously), you'll have to power down the unit and hold the power button for a few seconds to reboot into pairing mode.

Features and performance
There is no phone book syncing for the SuperTooth Crystal because the unit doesn't possess its own dialer. Rather, tapping the Multifunction button triggers your handset's voice dialer, if present. This is okay because most phones that feature Bluetooth hands-free also have voice dialers and it's great if you're already accustomed to, for example, the iPhone's or Android's voice dialer. The drawback is that there's no way to browse contacts the way you can with something like the Parrot Minikit units and there's no audible caller ID -- not even a number, just a rendition of "Ride of the Valkyries" composed of bleeps and bloops. (Seriously, why do so many manufacturers default to that ditty?)

Holding the Multifunction button will redial your last call and tapping it during an incoming call will accept. Additionally, the Cancel button will end a current call or reject an incoming one. Finally, the Volume buttons work about like you'd expect them to.

The illumination color and blink pattern of the Multifunction button can tell you quite a bit about the SuperTooth Crystal's state, including the battery status (red for low, green for full), charge state (orange), connection status (blinking blue), notification of an active call (steady blue), and pairing mode (blinking red and blue). iPhone 4 and 4S users can also take advantage of the Crystal's ability to display a battery meter in the iOS status bar alongside the phone's battery level.

SuperTooth Crystal Bluetooth speakerphone
The SuperTooth Crystal's multifunction button handles is your primary point of interaction, both initiating and accepting calls and providing information about the phone's state. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

In addition to making and receiving calls, the SuperTooth Crystal also supports A2DP audio streaming, which can be used for music playback, but is probably most useful for increasing the volume of the turn-by-turn directions from your GPS-enabled smartphone.

Call quality was good on both sides of the call. I was able to hear and be heard clearly by the recipients of my test calls. I wouldn't go whipping around trying to hold a conversation with the windows down at highway speeds, but in our poorly insulated econobox of test car at a cruise, I was able to chat without shouting. The SuperTooth Crystal's audio output for music was a bit flat, paling in comparison to the Jabra Freeway, but these aren't boom boxes. Thankfully, the Crystal's audio is clear and full enough where it counts: in that sliver of the audible spectrum where human voices reside.

In sum
At an MSRP of $69.99, the SuperTooth Crystal goes toe-to-toe with the recently reviewed Griffin SmartTalk Solar, which is the same price. The SmartTalk Solar's solar charger means that it almost never needs to be charged -- it doesn't get much more convenient than that. However, the SuperTooth model feels like a more expensive device thanks to its metal faceplate and snazzy magnetic clip. Plus, its Bluetooth connection endows the SuperTooth with neat features such as Secure Simple Pairing with no PIN and a visible battery meter on iOS devices.

SuperTooth Crystal

SuperTooth Crystal

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 5
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