Bluetooth devices and cars often just don’t mix. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked to help a family member pair their phone with their car’s in-dash system, and just given up in disgust. Pairing, right next to battery life, has got to be one of the worst issues with Bluetooth. Thankfully, companies like Supertooth have decided to give those of us looking for an easy-to-use in-car Bluetooth solution, an escape from those pairing headaches, and put together a solid little portable speakerphone in the process for both car and desktop use.
The Supertooth Crystal is designed mostly withj the driver in mind. It’s a small speakerphone, not much bigger than an iPhone, that magnetically clips onto your visor and gets to work. Pairing the device is about the easiest I’ve ever seen for a Bluetooth device, as you simply turn on the Crystal, and it’s ready to pair without the need for a PIN of any sort. It’s pretty awesome in this aspect, as once your phone is paired with the Crystal, it stays paired, automatically reconnecting the minute it’s in range of the Crystal. I tested this by getting in and out of my car several times, moving away far enough to lose the connection (about 20 feet with the doors closed) and then coming back within range, and hearing the comforting beep that signaled an instant reconnection.
How does it sound, you might ask? The Crystal is a good desktop or in-car speakerphone, with clear, though a bit tinny, sound quality from the speakers. You definitely won’t be listening to music through it, though voice and spoken podcasts are fine. The Crystal is also handy for amping up the volume of your phone’s GPS voice, which I found myself relying on pretty quickly and frequently, as trying to hear the iPhone’s built-in speaker while listening to the radio or music was an exercise in futility.
On the microphone side of things, the Crystal does an excellent job picking up and transmitting your voice on the call. The only real time you’ll have an issue is if your windows are down or you have the car’s A/C cranked to full-bore, then, it’s just too windy and noisy for the built-in mic.
The Crystal comes packed with a handy metal clip that attaches to your car’s sun visor. The powerful magnet on the back of the Crystal itself ensures a solid connection with the clip, and when you want the Crystal out of the way, you just pull it off one side of the visor, and lock it onto the backside of the clip. The only challenge with having the Crystal clipped to the visor is that it’s impossible to charge in this position, even with the included cigarette lighter/USB combo charger. There’s just no way to do it, since the charging port is on the backside of the Crystal.
As far as bluetooth speakerphone devices go, the Supertooth Crystal is tough to beat, especially at the cost (MSRP of $69.99 USD). It’s the easiest to use of those I’ve ever tested, and it just plain works. I often will unclip it from my car, take it into the office, use it for a desktop speakerphone, then take it with me back into the car at the end of the day. I rarely went anywhere without it during testing, and now my wife’s addicted to using it, too. Thankfully, you can pair multiple devices (up to eight), and keep two active devices online at any time, so it’s easy for both of us to use it.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive speakerphone for in-car and desktop use, you’d be hard pressed to find something as good as the Crystal. If the speaker was just a bit better, so you could broadcast music through it, this would be nearly perfect.
Final Score: 4/5