Free2Talk's BC900 is a neat looking device that comes in two parts: the Bluetooth 2.0 hands-free device proper and a cradle. The latter is made from clear plastic and has four foam legs, as well as two suction cups that attach themselves easily to a car's windscreen. Unfortunately, due to the force we exerted in ripping the BC900 free from its plastic packaging, the top cup works itself free after about 10 minutes. Thankfully for us a spare suction cup is supplied as part of the package.
A large solar panel sits astride the BC900's rear and is the unit's primary source of electrical juice. We weren't able to test the BC900's claimed 10-hour talk time and 600-hour standby time, because regardless of the weather — barring an apocalyptic fog or solar eclipse, of course — the BC900 happily sucks down the sun's rays. For night owls there's an in-car recharging cable, but the springy cable with the cigarette lighter jack at its end is woefully short, often leaving the BC900 dangling in the air.
On the unit's front is a large button that's responsible for power, dial/hang-up and pairing. Between that and the volume switch is a blue and red light that flashes and blinks at appropriate times. There's no information window, so instead of the usual selection of squawks and squeals, the BC900 intones in a helpful, if slightly robotic, female voice "power on", "phone is ready for use", "pairing successful" and so forth — there are five languages, including English, to chose from.
We had no problem pairing the BC900 with a range of phones, but, with any task short of on/off and dial/hang-up, the instruction leaflet is a must. If you lose yours, it can be downloaded via Free2Talk's website (the PDF was here at the time of writing).
The BC900 comes bundled with text-to-speech that allows it to announce the name of incoming callers and it generally works quite well. You'll need to load your phone's contact list into the BC900 via Bluetooth first and for us this took more than a few minutes for 200-plus people. Voice commands are available too, but only if it's a feature on your phone.
Performance and conclusion
Naturally, the BC900 doesn't have the same crisp, full-bodied sound of a Bluetooth hands-free system that's integrated into a car stereo, but for a stand-alone device it's quite good. Voices, at both ends, may sound a little hollow, but, unless your car clatters like a flock of tin cans in a blender, there's no need to shout. Our only misgiving was a slight high pitch squeal emanating from the speaker in the second or two before it shuts itself off, after either the end of a call or one of the BC900's pronouncements. In our review vehicle, though, it's only audible when the car's at rest.
We're all for harnessing the sun's rays, as well as reducing the number of accessory cables in the car. For that, as well as its decent sound quality, handsome looks and good feature list, we're giving the Free2Talk BC900 an Editors' Choice award.