I do a lot of talking with my mobile phone when I’m in the car. In fact, its where I do the bulk of my talking. I learned a long time ago, through no fault (or accident) of my own, that if I was going to talk on the phone, I need to have my hands at 10 and 2; and my attention on driving and not on the screen of my gadget reading mail or fumbling to answer or make a call. To that effect, when I got one of my first Pocket PC Phones, the Samsung i700, I purchased the HFK that Samsung made for it. When you do most of your networking in your vehicle, this can be difficult at best. This is the number one reason why people like me need to have some kind of a hands free way of making and taking calls while driving. Wired headsets don’t cut it. Wires get tangled and in the way. Recently, I’ve been using the Tekkeon ET6000 Bluetooth Hands Free Car Kit. Is it the device that will make me put my trusted BT headset aside? Let’s take a quick look and find out.
The Contents of the package…
In the Package
Take a look at the above and tell me what you see missing… Right. An AC adapter. The only way to charge this puppy is in your car with the included car charger, which I found inherently problematic coming out of the box. The battery needed charging. The only way I could charge it was to put it in the car and run the engine, wasting some very expensive gasoline (gas is running anywhere between $3.04-$3.57 a gallon here in the areas of Chicago I romp in); or to wait and charge it the next time I was in the car. Big bummer…and not a lot of fun.
The biggest and best thing about this device is that it allows you to make and take calls without messing with your device. You can initiate a call right from the ET6000 just by pressing its green call button. If you have MS Voice Command installed, or some other voice recognition software, pressing the green call button once should initialize the software, and allow you to quickly make a call. Your success rate is entirely environmentally dependent. In other words, if your car cabin is filled with road noise, or if you have the radio going, you aren’t going to have a lot of success in getting VC to work. I know I didn’t. My Treo 750 has MS Voice Command 1.5 built into its ROM, and I never had a great deal of success getting it and the Tekkeon to dial a call while the car was moving. Instead, things worked better after the car was stopped, and the road noise was greatly reduced. While this wasn’t a huge deal with my 750 (due in no small part to the way a Treo interacts with your Contacts, allowing you to place calls by typing a number or a name), it did mean that I would not be able to use one of the device’s main features…somewhat of a disappointment.
The device itself is oval shaped and made of plastic. It comes with a vehicle charger and a visor mount so that you can hang the device from your visor, giving you easy access to its one line, monochrome display and its buttons. This particular setup will work for most, but I had a great deal of trouble with it. The ET6000’s display is a one line, green backlit, monochrome display. When you’re in your car and driving, and using the ET6000, the screen momentarily lights up when you turn the device on. It also lights up whenever you push a button. The timing on the back light is NOT user configurable, and it goes out way too quickly for me and my crappy eyesight to register what is being displayed on the screen. Furthermore, the distance between me and the screen while the device sits on my visor falls right in the middle of the distance of my near/farsightedness so that I find myself either constantly moving my visor up and down, back and forth or tilting my head up and down trying to read the display with and without my bifocals. The back light also goes out very quickly, and I’ve found that the display is very difficult to read, even in full daylight without the back light on. This is truly a pain. If the device had another mounting option, say something that could be mounted to a spot on my dashboard, or to an air vent, I might try those (though mounting something to an air vent wouldn’t work due to background noise that flowing air would create). It might also make the device easier to use, as I wouldn’t have to look up, and then through, over, under or around my glasses to see the display.
A stock shot showing the ET6000 on a desk next to, of all things, a MacBook Pro!
Pairing the Device with your Phone
Pairing the device with your phone wasn’t too much trouble; and the bulk of the operation is really taken care of by your phone. Again, while no surprise, I did find that the device and my phone frequently forgot who the other was. The only way to repair the relationship was to delete the partnership and start over again. Doing that more than once got to be a bit tiresome, especially since I’ve only had the ET6000 for a few months, AND I’ve had to do it about 4 times on each of the 2-3 devices that I’ve tried to use with it. So, it ain’t me, or the mobile device I’m trying to use. Its the ET6000. I’m not certain what would cause this, either.
To pair your device with the ET6000, follow these simple stes:
- Press the green call button on the ET6000 to turn it on
- Press and hold the green call button on the ET6000 until the words, "Ready to Pair" appear on the LCD screen
- On your device, turn BT on, and make certain that it is set to "Discoverable," "Visible." It needs to see and be seen by other devices.
- Run through the device discovery and pairing process on your device. You shouldn’t need a passcode for the ET6000. I didn’t have to use any. You will also need to indicate that the ET6000 is your hands free device.
After the pairing process completes, and you get a success message from your device, the ET6000 should automatically connect. When you want to initiate a connection in the future, turn BT on on both devices, and then press the green Call button on the ET6000.
Using the Device to Make and Take Calls
You’re supposed to be able to initiate calls from the ET6000; but I never tried. Honestly, with the Treo 750, iPAQ 6945 that I had used it with on the PPC Phone Edition side (they have MS Voice Command installed on them) and the Blackjack on the Smartphone side, I really didn’t see the need to really even try it. I always initiated the call on the device side, and it seemed to work very well. The calls were clear, even in the semi-noisy cab of my CR-V. However, they could have been a bit louder. I found myself wanting to bump up the volume just a bit more in almost every call.
Side view of the ET6000 in my Honda CR-V.
Front view of the ET6000 on my car visor. My garage door opener is sitting to its left…
The Tekkeon ET6000 Bluetooth Hands Free Kit is a decent accessory for the price. It would be better if Tekkeon offered additional mounting options for the device so I can place it somewhere else other than my visor. The microphone could also be a little better at noise reduction and picking up my voice. I often found myself shouting at my visor while driving down the road, so the person I was talking to could hear me clearly. When the car was stopped, everything was fine; but road noise played a big factor in the overall usability of the device; and that’s something that I can’t easily change…at least not without buying a new car.
The biggest problem I had over all, was the fact that the only way to charge the device is in the car with the car charger. A desktop charger would have made this so much easier… and a much better product.
For the cost, this isn’t bad at all. I’m actually pleased with the device at this price point; but just a bit more, could have greatly improved the overall experience and the TOC, and made this a real home run.
The Tekkeon ET6000 is available from QVC.
What I Like: Works with any and every Bluetooth phone, Easy to use. Reasonably priced giving competitor products in this space.
What Needs Improvement: Call volume. Longer backlight time. Additional, mounting options. A desktop AC charger needs to be included with the kit.