August 22, 2014

Accessory Review: Jabra FREEWAY Speaker Phone

Jabra, a prominent name in the Bluetooth game, recently began offering a speakerphone system, the FREEWAY, through Amazon and other outlets.  I had the chance to play with one of these over the last week and half and thought I would share my opinions of the device.

I’m a big fan of Bluetooth devices and love to check out new products so I was excited to try the FREEWAY out.  Once my unit I arrived I immediately tore into the box and skipped right on by the instructions, thinking, “I don’t need to read that silly stuff, I can figure this out myself!”   And you know what?  I was right.  The setup system that comes with the FREEYWAY is among the most simple I’ve ever encountered.  Simply turn it and listen to the automated robot lady voice tell you what to do; Pairing is easy and an immediate.

I was very pleased with the sound in the FREEWAY as it was not only loud, but clear.  You’ll sometimes come across speakers or headsets that get muffled or distorted as they get louder.  That was not the case here, thanks to the 3 speakers hidden inside.   Conversely, my friends on the other end of my calls remarked at how clear I sounded to them, something I obviously attribute to the noise cancellation and dual-mic setup.

The FREEWAY is a bit bigger than most of the Bluetooth speakerphones I’ve used in the past however its not massive.  The design is sleek and stylish and buttons have a good tactile feedback when pressed.  The materials used are quality and it doesn’t look like any corners were cut in the process.

A few personal  takeaways for the Jabra FREEWAY:

  • Broadcasting Slacker Radio (thanks, FM Transmitter!) in your car via the speakerphone is much better than terrestrial and satellite options.
  • Turn-by-turn directions from your phone are never missed when they come over the car stereo.
  • Making and accepting phone calls doesn’t get much easier.
  • Getting in the car and hearing, “connected” every single time brings a smile to my face.
  • The clip to hold the unit to your visor is very strong and doesn’t seem as if it will get lazy over time.
  • Clipping the device to a backpack or bag also works well when mountain biking!
  • Programming additional (up to 7!) phones and tablets is as simple as saying “pair new device”

Anticipate charging the speakerphone maybe once a week, depending on your driving habits.  With a promised 40 day standby time and 14 hours of talk, your mileage may vary.  Playing podcasts and streaming music through the stereo does have an impact on battery, albeit a minimal one.  The FREEWAY comes with a car charger/USB cable so that you can keep it in your vehicle and not worry about leaving it at home.  Since it’s microUSB, it’s likely also a spare charger for your handset as well.

The Jabra FREEWAY does come with a free downloadable 1-year subscription of Voice Assist which lets users call, send/respond to emails and texts, as well as post status updates to Facebook and Twitter.  While I have not tried that feature out just yet I feel confident that it will work as advertised.  The retail value on the app/service alone is $59 so that could account for half the $124.99 asking price.

Considering I’ve spent $100 on other Bluetooth headsets and/or speakers in the past, the FREEWAY is a definite bargain.  Keep an eye on Amazon and other retail stores, maybe you can get a discount or free shipping out of the deal.