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IOGEAR Solar Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit GBHFK231 (Black)
Style Name: EnglishPackage Type: Standard PackagingChange
Price:$29.99+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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198 of 207 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2010
I was looking for a bluetooth speaker unit to replace an old Motorola headset. I was tired of always charging the headset and I rarely used it outside of the car, so when I found this car kit I thought it would be perfect. It uses a standard micro USB port to charge (the same as my phone) which is handy, and the solar panel idea made a lot of sense. I charged the unit initially using USB, and then stuck it on my windshield below the tinted area at the top, sort of behind my rear view mirror. It's small enough that it is discreet; the controls are simple and easy to use.

Pairing my phone was very easy and it has had no problems connecting each time since then. Incoming sound quality is good and the speaker is plenty loud. People I talk to also report that I sound clear on their end, so I think the noise cancellation works well.

As far as the effectiveness of the solar charging, it seems to be working although it's hard to say - I've only had it for two weeks. After the initial USB charge, I haven't had to charge the unit again via USB in that time. We've only had a few sunny days lately, but it does seem like the unit must be getting some power from the solar panel; I always use Bluetooth for my daily commute and I have yet to receive a low battery warning. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on the amount of actual talking you do while in the car.

Overall, I've found this car kit to fit my needs extremely well.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
I purchased this to replace a Jabra bluetooth handsfree speaker that was being redeployed to another vehicle. This IOGear unit is smaller than the Jabra but the interface is very similar. One difference is that the Jabra will announce the phone # of the incoming call. This unit does not have that feature. Also the sound quality on the Jabra is a little clearer and louder. At the highest setting, the volume on this unit is adequate but you may need to turn the volume setting on your phone to it's highest setting. I have an iPhone 3G and the highest setting was required to get a reasonable volume. I don't think this would work well in a moving convertible with the top down.

This was easy to pair with two phones simultaneously which is nice if you have 2 drivers for the vehicle as I do for my SUV. This eliminates the need to pair the device with each driver's phone when they use the car. You pair it once and just turn it on when in the car and either or both phones are paired automatically. You must read the instructions closely to make sure the multi-pairing setting is selected first.

The Visor clip does not work with a thick visor (Visors with lighted Mirrors built in are usually thicker). The suction mount is OK but not legal in all states. Check your state laws for compliance. Tech support said they do not offer a solution for clipping the unit to the thicker Visors. The suction cups is holding up so far but I am worried about the unit falling off as outside weather conditions and temperature change. IOGear does provide an extra set of suction cups and the unit seems robust enough to survive a fall but it might be better to remount it periodically.

So far the Solar charging seems to be working well. Also because of the compact size, the unit is easy to travel with.

The Volume and Visor clip issues prevent me from giving this 5 stars. Also, it would be nice if it announced the # of the incoming call as the Jabra does. If you don't want to hassle with charging monthly (my Jabra lasted over a month on a charge in typical usage) then this is a nice solution. If you want the best voice quality and added features, I would recommend the Jabra for about $10 more as an alternative.
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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 21, 2010
PROs
+ Loud speakerphone: I have no problem hearing the callers, even on the highway. It is a lot better than the iPhone's built-in speakerphone. Also, people I talk with say I sound crystal clear on this device.
+ Solar charging: My car is parked out in the sun while I'm at work, so why not put all that sunshine to good use? This device keeps itself charged without having to keep yet another cord in the glovebox.
+ Auto-Off: If your phone moves outside of the bluetooth range (20-40 ft), it will turn itself off after 10 minutes or so.

CONs
- Power button: You have to hold the button for 4 seconds to turn this device on. I wish you could just tap it quick when you hop in the car to power it up.
- The range is too good: With my car parked in my attached garage, the bluetooth never disconnects when my phone is in the house. Therefore, the speakerphone never turns off. I have to remember to manually power it down with the 4 second button press (or disable the bluetooth on my phone) when I get home.

Some reviewers commented that their device doesn't charge when it is in the sun. Basically, this device knows when it needs charged. The battery has to be low enough before the red charging light will come on when charging via solar power. It's kind of like your cellphone; your phone won't charge when you plug it in if it's at 100% already.

UPDATE: 1 year later and this bluetooth speakerphone is still going strong. I've never had to plug it in other than the initial charge when I first got it. The solar charging works great.
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62 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2010
Had this about a month - the solar feature attracted me since I never knew when there was any power left in my last unit. Actually, it's the same with this - how much charge does it have left?

Charging: I did the first charge via USB, and once in between, during this four week period - and every couple days put it into the sun. Have used it more than a dozen times or more on calls, and it keeps working. A previous review said the red led is supposed to light when solar charging, but I've never seen it, and not sure it's supposed to do that... only lights when plugged into USB charging. Given that a full solar charge takes more than 10 hours - the limited time I place it in the sun just might be enough to keep it going. Bottom line: not sure if the solar charging really works, but I only did the USB charge after a couple weeks because I got nervous. And you do have to turn the unit over to charge, and then back again to use it so the speaker and mic are toward you. Seems to take a little more fussing to use it fully.

I like the size... and the capability to handle two phones. People seem to hear me fine. The speaker volume is not the best - I have a Storm 2 and need to have it at full volume, with the Iogear at full volume, to really hear it. For me, this is the weakest point. I don't have a noisy car, but I have to kill the radio, roll up the windows and really pay attention. Or, I'm just gettin' old!
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2010
I have tried several of these blue tooth hands free car kits/speaker kits (under $50) by several different manufacturers and all of them have been disappointing. THIS ONE IS NO EXCEPTION. After reading so many rave reviews, I took the chance and bought two of them at a great price. I agree with several other posts: unit is very light and small, but feels cheap like you could easily break it. It gets cool points for solar, which appears to keep it charged all by itself with minimal usage. The mounts are a problem. The slide in case with the suction cups easily loses the spongy grommets used to cushion the case between the window glass. The clip on case used for a visor has a small clip and would not clip onto the visor of my 09 Tacoma. After prying it open and praying it wouldn't snap off the plastic, it awkwardly sits on the visor, BUT the position of the clip does not allow you to flip the visor down and let the sun charge the unit unless you take it out and flip it over and re-insert it into the holder so the panels are out. You then have to remember to re-insert face up before use, because the buttons and speaker would be up against the visor. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM is the most important. The speaker, LIKE ALL THE OTHERS sucks! The volume is way too low. I have tried it on the windshield and on the visor and my callers are a whisper at 65 MPH on the freeway, windows up, AC fan off, and no radio on. City streets are no better. This is with both units in both a pick-up truck and a small SUV. When speaking to people, the complaint is that you sound far away and "tinny", the volume is TOO LOW on both ends with the volume on the unit at full. This was tested with a blackberry and a motorola cell phone on BOTH speakers I bought. Placing the unit on the visor and flipping the visor down so that it's almost at mouth level makes it a little better, but then your vision is blocked by the visor. Completely disappointed. I am giving up on these type of systems, they just don't have the volume and speaker capability we need. I am assuming the only true option is a built-in vehicle system. Maybe my next car.... VIDEO REVIEW: [...]
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2010
I recently purchased a new car with, what I thought was, ALL the bells and whistles. I soon realized I didn't have bluetooth in the car. At this point it would have been really expensive to install it, if it's even possible.

Then I found the IOGear Solar Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit. In the box there is the solar-powered hands-free speaker - compact and unobtrusive. There are two housing cases - one that suctions on to the windshield and one that attaches to the visor. There is also a car charging cable for when solar charging isn't feasible.

I love this product because of the solar charging feature. I placed the speaker into the housing with suction cups and placed it in the upper corner of my windshield. It doesn't obstruct my view and is constantly charging and hasn't detached at all. Once synced with my phone, all I need do is hit the big button to answer and hit it again to hang up.

I had a client in the car and had to answer a quick call. My phone was positioned to see who was calling with a quick glance and then I hit the button. He was so impressed with the way it operated, he ran out to get one himself.

I'm not sure the life expectancy of this thing but, so far, I've been very happy with it. And, it addresses the GROWING problem of people holding and talking on their phones, which apparently, the vast majority of the population are unable to do at the same time. I've almost been run into by many of them!

If you're one of those people, get this...NOW!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2010
Bought this for my wife, cause she keeps trying to talk using her lousy speakerphone on her cell and holding it while she drives. A bit dangerous, plus I can't really hear her well.

Pros - sound is pretty good on this speakerphone. I stuck it under the rearview mirror so it doesn't obscure her view, but I can still hear her fine. Not always perfect, but loads better than her speakerphone.
- Have not had to charge it yet.
- Pairs easily and quickly with the phone.
- Looks pretty cool.
- Hasn't fallen off the windshield (yet)

Cons - she parks in the garage at home, so figure it will need to manually charge it sometime, but haven't had to yet off her initial charge a few weeks ago.
- Sound is occasionally warbly.

Overall pretty happy - it was $29 but now went up a bit?

Just an additional note 5 months later - still have not had to manually charge it even though my wife's car is always in the garage. I bought another one for myself. Works less well in my car cause my car is so noisy.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This was very easy to use right out of the package! When I tried it out at first I was disappointed as I couldnt hear while the car air conditioner was running. And I remembered that someone else had said it was very low in sound. While quite by accident I found that the volume on my lotus was down to 2 and after adjusting the volume on the IOgear and on my phone it works wonderfully loud if I so choose! I did find that i have to check my phone volume when I get in the car because either from bumping around in my purse or in just normal use it tends to lower the volume by itself. If you check that out on yours too I think you will be as happy as I am with this product...Oh, I have to mention the voice recognition works better than most items I've tried. I will say call 123456 and as long as I don't rush it, it always understands and makes the call!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2010
I have been using this for about three weeks and am very pleased. The solar recharging and auto off makes this super convenient. I had no problem syncing it with my iPhone. The only negative thought is that with any speaker mic combo the sound isn't always perfect but then sometimes neither is holding the phone to your ear. All in all a great value that I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting a hassle free hands free device.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2011
Day 1 - This is my first bluetooth unit, it took about 5 minutes to hook mine and my wifes up, very easy. I talked with one of my friends and he said it sounded good on his end and I could hear him quite well on my end. So as of right now I would say I like it, I will have to wait and see how the suction cup holder holds up and see if the solar charge actaully works for me but I have no complaints after day 1. It says you can hook a second phone up to the unit not sure how hard that is to do, but if my wife is in my car she can answer her phone and if we are in her car she can answer my phone since I always drive.

After a few weeks - I noticed it worked good when talking to my wife from the house phone and her cell phone but when we talk from both cars using both units the sound quality is horrible. The solar power seems to work fine and I only used the charger the first time after setting up the unit. The holder does a pretty good job I go out every morning and it's still hanging from the windshield not laying on the floor. It was a little disappointing when we were trying to talk in the cars using the two units had to take it from 4 stars after day one to 3 stars after a few weeks.
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