I’ve written before about the problems I’ve had with the built-in hands-free bluetooth system I have in my 2008 Toyota Highlander. I’ve given up using it, actually, as I got tired of people complaining that they couldn’t hear me. I even called up Toyota asking if there was an upgrade path and their answer was “nope.” Not so useful. To compensate, we’ve been testing out a lot of different bluetooth hands-free systems, both little speaker devices that hook to the visor and headsets.
Problem is, a car is a noisy environment, particularly when I’m zipping down the highway at 70mph, surrounded by traffic.
Enter the amazing VXI BlueParrott Xpress wireless headset that’s specifically designed for high noise environments like construction sites and crowded spaces. Should be plenty enough for my car, right? Read on to find out…
Wireless units are often limited by their battery life and there’s nothing worse than having a call die mid-point because the device ran out of its digital steam. First question is then about battery life, and the Xpress has impressive numbers for a unit that’s only 0.6 ounces: 7 hours of talk time and up to 195 hours (8 days) on standby.
A full charge takes 2.5 hours, so if your Sunday night routine includes plugging this in before you go to bed, it should be ready for a week of phone conversations without any additional charge.
The most important element to me, however, is how it works in a noisy environment, and from conversations I’ve had with people, they report that it sounds excellent, that it’s the best sounding device I’ve ever used on my Apple iPhone 4s, including the mic built-in to the phone itself. That’s nice to hear!
The over-the-ear design, as you can see below, takes a little bit of getting used to as you have to push the earpiece into your ear for a good seal.
On the other hand, that means you have less distracting background noise when you’re trying to hear the other party, and once I got used to it, I quickly found that the over-the-ear design of the Xpress headset made it super comfortable. Yesterday I spent about two hours on different calls with this unit with zero fatigue. Better, it’s really a “connect and forget” device so I find myself transitioning from the car to my house, getting the mail, feeding my cat, or even climbing onto my hammock without any interruption in the conversation.
Just as pleasant is that the Xpress uses audio prompts with a lovely British woman’s voice to tell you “call terminated”, “device connected” and similar. Better, you can use the Xpress with something like Apple’s Siri system, meaning that you can just speak out loud something like “call dad” and it’ll just work (though there’s a slight hiccup that the handoff from Siri to the phone system results in a “call disconnected” message, which is a bit disconcerting the first time you do it).
Now the down side: If you’re looking for a super-cheap solution, this isn’t it. The retail on the VXI BlueParrott Xpress is $119 plus shipping, but it’s a solid, professional device and the finish, build and materials used are all top-notch. It feels like something that’ll last for years.
All in all, I’m very impressed with the VXI Xpress. It’s a well designed, well built headset that does exactly what it promises, eliminate just about all of the background noise to ensure that the person with whom you’re talking can hear you, not what’s going on around you. If you’re constantly in noisy environments like I am, this is a great blessing and something your friends and colleagues will thank you for time and again.