Home Reviews Smartphones & Mobile Devices Review: SolarVisor N650 from NoiseHush

N650 What a promise, a solar powered bluetooth hands free carkit. This seems like a great idea. But does it live up to its promise?

If you've ever owned a blue tooth carkit you will know the frustration of a flat battery and the annoyance of tangled charging wires in your car. Here's a product set to change all that forever.

When I opened the pack I was surprised to find that it came with a cigarette lighter USB charger and a USB to mini USB lead. I was thinking this would be a totally solar affair, obviously not.  Turns out these are necessary inclusions so that you can boost your carkit's charge at night and also, as I later found out, required for the first charge.

The unit is small with a clear LCD display that can be angled towards the user. It also comes with a transparent magnetic mounting cradle which suction caps onto the windscreen. This allows you to quickly hide the unit in the glove box away from potential thieves eyes when the car is parked.

After scanning the comprehensive instructions, I gleaned that the unit should be fully charged before first use. Here's the problem: the unit has to be turned on to charge from the sun, but there was not enough charge in the battery to get it to stay on. Enter the USB charger via my desktop computer.

Then it struck me that I wasn't really testing the most exciting feature, the solar charging. Once I'd given it a "kick start" via USB, I then finished off the charge with the power of the sun. All up it took around 5 hours; that's about an hour on the USB and rest from the sun.

Once charged you're ready to pair the device with a mobile phone. I was using my iPhone 3GS. Paring is very simple to do, make sure the N650 is off, then hold the button down for 6 seconds and the N650 enters paring mode. I then went to my bluetooth settings on the phone selected "NoiseHush N650", all done.

Once the units are paired you don't have to do it again, as soon as you turn the N650 on it recognises your phone.

Now to the testing. I made my first call to my voice mail. I was disappointed to find that I couldn't understand a word of the voice mail. Turned out it wasn't the unit, the caller's cheapo VoIP connection made the voice unintelligible even direct from the phone.

The next call I made while driving worked perfectly, though I did have to turn the volume down, even though I was using it in my sports car that tends to be somewhat louder than a regular car.

The unit automatically switches to standby mode after 3 minutes. Which means that as long as the mobile phone stays within range the unit will activate. Once you've gone out of range the unit switches it's self off and needs to be manually switched back on.

There are a heap of functions like call waiting and built in phone book that you could get into if you were so inclined.

The thinking behind the SolarVisor N650 is that you'll never have a flat battery in your carkit again or a tangle of wires connecting devices in the confines of your cars cabin with the added benefit that you're no longer contributing to global warming by charging one small device by the sun. All these worthy goals make the SolarVisor N650 a smart little unit.

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