I have an older car – with no Bluetooth and definitely no MP3 player. It hasn’t been a big deal – I have been using my iPhone through a device that sends an FM radio signal. But now I can take all those wires away and use this Jabra Freeway Bluetooth speaker. A pretty impressive device that was awarded the best of CTIA wireless in 2011.
The Good Stuff – Jabra Freeway
Let’s answer the “What is the FM button for” question. Well, it simply turns this device into a FM tuner. You can listen to the voice through the built-in speaker, or through the radio on a tuned frequency. Great for if the whole car needs to hear a conversation.
The Jabra Freeway charges on a Micro-USB plug. The device can be affixed to the visor of your car (or wherever you want to put it). Turn the power on and you hear a voice say “Jabra on – Ready for pairing”.
The pairing process on iPhone is pretty standard. Turn on Bluetooth and choose the Freeway. Key in the pin (if necessary) and the device will pair.
When you have to answer a call, just hit the button with the phone receiver on it. Need to hang up – do the same. Volume buttons on the bottom to turn up and down the audio and a mute button if sirens are piercing outside.
Even though it’s pretty big for a Bluetooth hands-free unit, the contour does make it work so you can place it on the visor without blocking the vanity mirror. However, the speaker will also do double-duty. Whereas most hands-free units only take the phone calls, you can play music right through this unit. Turn on the FM button and your music will transfer over.
Like most units nowadays, you can charge in a couple hours and be on standby for days. Even with moderate to heavy usage, you might have to re-charge once every 6-7 days.
Since the unit is most likely right above your head, I can talk to someone while my windows are rolled down. Everyone I talked to through the unit has said there was no issue in hearing me. That is the best test of the Jabra Freeway.
The Not So Good Stuff – Jabra Freeway
I wasn’t completely impressed with the speakers in the unit. There was a noticeable clip (a buzzing sound) when I was listening to either music or someone talking to me with the volume around 70-80%. I had to turn down the speaker a bit to make the clipping sound go away.
The devices’ wire clip to the visor causes a bit of concern – especially since this is a bigger unit. If I am driving down the highway with the windows rolled down, then get a blast from the sun – causing me to whip the visor to the side window – I could see that unit go flying into the cross-traffic. A piece of velcro could be the answer, since I don’t see a person moving this unit around too much.
There are a lot of voice commands in this unit. Other hands-free units let me say “Call – [person]” once I press the button. You have to learn the commands – although by asking for help, the unit will give you a list of options.
There is no pause or stop button for the music. You have to press voice and then say “Pause”. Would have been better with just the button.
It does have a couple flaws, but the device is pretty good. This is a unit that sells for $129.99, so the price might be the tipping point to saying no. After all, I don’t need a device to play my iPod music as much and I can get a hands-free bluetooth unit for $50 or less.
If the Freeway was to drop below $100 and fix the speaker clipping, then it will be worth it. Otherwise, if you need a nicely designed unit with a larger speaker, then the Freeway is for you.
Disclaimer: I did receive a unit from the company. This is a unbiased review of the Freeway.