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The promise of Bluetooth in cars means never having to take your phone out of your pocket for either hands-free phone calls or audio streaming. However, if you want to use the iPhone's Siri feature, you'll find yourself with one hand on the wheel, and the other dangerously fumbling through a purse or pocket trying to find that all-important button.
Beanco Tech attempts to solve this problem with the generically named Mobile Home device, a Siri button you can clip to a car's sun visor.
When setting it up, it took me a moment to wrap my head around how exactly it works. I first had to pair my iPhone to the Mobile Home, then to my car. With both Bluetooth connections active, I merely had to press the main button on the Mobile Home device, and Siri piped up from my iPhone, ready to field my requests.
The black plastic Mobile Home device measures 3 inches long, 1.375 inches wide, and 0.25 inch thick. It includes a metal wire clip that embraces the Mobile Home device and holds it onto a car's sun visor, making access easy for the driver.
There are two buttons on the Mobile Home's surface, one to activate pairing and one to start Siri. The pairing button is a translucent thin strip that also shows a status light. Following the instructions to pair my phone, I was amused how Beanco Tech advises pushing the pairing button and observing the status light to check the progress.
With my big thumb over the pairing button, I could hardly see the status light. The button is also a bit difficult to use, requiring me to push it with my thumbnail. Trusting that the status light said all was good, I checked my iPhone's Bluetooth settings and saw that the Mobile Home was, indeed, connected.
The Siri button on the Mobile Home is big and emblazoned with a white square matching that on the iPhone's own main button. Beanco Tech better hope Apple hasn't patented that square.
On the back, a sliding panel hides a large watch battery. Beanco included an extra battery in the box I received.
There really isn't that much to the Mobile Home, as it relies on Siri for most of its functionality. Press the Siri button, and it lets you ask for directions, for specific music playback, and anything else Siri can handle. As Siri is an online service, the Mobile Home will only work in areas with a data connection.
There are a few major features lacking on the Mobile Home. Unlike the BluClik remote, a competing product, the Mobile Home does not have buttons to skip or pause music, which would be convenient.
More importantly, there is no microphone in the Mobile Home. If your iPhone is tucked away in a suitcase or buried under a lot of stuff in a purse, its microphone might not be able to pick up your voice, rendering the Mobile Home useless.
With my iPhone in my coat pocket, the Mobile Home clipped to the sun visor, and all Bluetooth connections active, I set off down the road. Tapping the Mobile Home button, I heard Siri's chime, and asked it to play a specific artist (Fleetwood Mac, if you're interested). Within a few seconds Lindsey Buckingham was singing about how fine some girl looked on Monday morning.
While enjoying the music, I heard the alert sound for an incoming text. Being a safe driver, I wasn't about to pull my phone from my pocket. So I hit the Mobile Home button again and had Siri read out the content of the text. All of that was very convenient.
The big test came when I parked the car overnight and came back in the morning. Would the Mobile Home reconnect automatically?
I did not hear Siri's chime immediately after hitting the Mobile Home button. However, I pressed it again and Siri was ready to take my requests. The Mobile Home needed a few seconds to reconnect, but it was a painless procedure.
I was happy with the Mobile Home's performance, and the access it gave me to Siri's features, but I find its own lack of features limiting. For example, I don't want to get into Siri just to skip a song, so the lack of skip or pause buttons is inconvenient.
The lack of a microphone in the Mobile Home device did not hamper my use of it in the car. The iPhone's microphone was sensitive enough to pick up my voice even when it was tucked away in an inside coat pocket. It might have been a problem if I had thrown my coat in the back seat or was carrying the iPhone in a messenger bag.
I would think the Mobile Home device could be convenient in the home, if you have your iPhone docked to a stereo system. You could pick it up and request whatever music you wanted. For this use, the lack of a microphone also might be an issue if the iPhone is too far away to pick up your voice.
For what you get, the price of $79 seems a bit much, especially when when the aforementioned BluClik remote goes for only $39.95 and offers more features.