Parrot Minikit Chic

In California, if you want to talk on the phone while driving, hands-free is the law. But even if it weren't, I'd still use a hands-free kit because it's so much safer than messing with your phone and trying to hold it in your ear while you're steering and trying to pass the goldfish crackers back to your cranky kids. I'm behind the wheel a lot, especially now that the crazy after-school activity carnival is about to start -- and I need a solution that's easy to safe, easy to use, and nice to look at. I recently had the opportunity to review the Parrot MiniKit Chic, a portable Bluetooth hands free kit. Here's what I thought:

The Basics
Parrot’s MiniKit Chic ($99.99) is a portable Bluetooth hands free kit that attaches to your car's sun visor or drops into your purse. It automatically connects to your Bluetooth phone when nearby and automatically synchronizes to your phonebook. And with talk-to-dial name recognition, the MiniKit Chic recognizes and dials the number of the contact you speak, without any prior training.

The Bongga
Synchronizing the Minikit Chic with my phone was fairly simple (here's a list of Bluetooth-enabled phones that work with it), and once you get it sync'ed up, it's really easy to use -- which is important, because you do NOT want to be distracted while you're behind the wheel. You don't even need to turn the Minikit Chic on and off while you're driving. As long as your phone's Bluetooth capabilities are turned on and it's in the car with you, the Minikit Chic will work. If your phone rings, just reach up and press the right-side button to answer the call -- thanks to the MiniKit Chic, you're now on speakerphone! You can talk normally, without shouting, while you're driving. To hang up, reach up again and press the left button.

Here's a short video clip of the Parrot MiniKit Chic in action. If the person on the other line sounds garbled, it's not because of any quality issues, it's because she's at the beach in the middle of a huge crowd of sun-worshippers. We could actually understand her pretty well, and vice-versa.

I really like how the MiniKit Chic clips to my van's sunvisor. I only use hands-free when I'm driving anyway, because I don't talk on my cellphone often enough to need one of those Bluetooth headsets that look like hearing devices strapped to my ear. And how could anyone not like the style? The graceful silver-and-black floral design makes it look like something out of a Beardsley drawing. As the name implies, the device is slim and unobtrusive, although I'd love to see this in a tan design option so it blends in even better with our van's upholstery.

The Blah
We were able to figure out the synchronization process, but for phone book synchronization, voice recognition and other features, the instructions are woefully inadequate (it doesn't even go through all the menu items!). Also, the voice recognition software needs some work; after countless misinterpretations of "Ana" ("Heather", "Tina" and "Ina", to start with), I grew tired of imitating an American accent.

Also, using the push-button/dial to scroll through your phone book is cumbersome (i.e. you have to push the button 5 times to get to the "E" entries in your phone book, then you have to turn the dial to scroll through each "E" entry). On the rare occasions that I really need to call someone while I'm driving, I would rather pass the phone to my daughter in the back seat, ask her to dial -- and then take the call on the Parrot Minikit Chic.

The Bottom Line
The Parrot Minikit Chic is better for taking calls than for making calls -- but when you're driving, that's all you should be doing anyway. Which means the Parrot Minikit Chic is a must-have safety feature for any car without an in-vehicle voice-activated phone system. The Parrot's safety and style is a combination you can't resist.

I received a product sample for this post, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

15 Comments, Leave yours here:

Anonymous said...

This is great!

Amanda on August 31, 2009 at 11:53 AM said...

WOW they have some really neat products. I would like to win this hands free product.

jerricaparr on August 31, 2009 at 6:13 PM said...

I love the fact that it'll automatically connect to my phone book and stuff.. it seems incredibly ... smart!

Fokxxy on September 3, 2009 at 12:57 PM said...

I would love to try this. I really dislike the ones that strap to my ear and this sounds like the perfect solution for me. I do agree that it sounds as if making calls is a little harder than receiving. But receiving is mostly what I do. I wonder if I program "mom" in - will it be simple enough or common enough for it to understand. Here is hoping. Great review. Thank you.

brennaboo on September 7, 2009 at 11:40 PM said...

I really like this product's looks and I could get used to it I bet. I also hate earpieces. I feel like a pretentious jerk with a chunk of speaker attached to my ear. Like ... I'm so important, I can't be unavailable for even a minute. Bah.
This product is so much nicer, and so pretty. Hope to own one someday.

brennaboo on September 7, 2009 at 11:44 PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessi @ Jabbering Jessi on September 9, 2009 at 11:41 AM said...

This product looks amazing, my ears get irritated with my bluetooth system but as early as next month it will be law her to have a bluetooth device so this would be perfect

roxxyroller on September 12, 2009 at 10:31 PM said...

These are SWEET products!!

Luv to Save on September 13, 2009 at 8:15 AM said...

I could really use this and I'm glad to know that it is compatible with iPhone. I hate answering phone calls while driving specially with an iPhone. It's so dangerous with all the buttons you have touch and I hate earphones!

Sarah on September 17, 2009 at 11:55 AM said...

I've never been able to get used to wearing a Bluetooth on my ear, what a great alternative.

Unknown on September 18, 2009 at 8:51 PM said...

I too have issues with the Bluetooth in my ear, it never feels like it fits well. We have those cell phone laws here where, in certain cities, you MUST be using a speaker system and not have a phone to your ear or face a ticket. This would be much better than chucking my phone on the seat when I see a police car.

Anonymous said...

Great review! Would love to have one of these! Certainly beats my irritating bluetooth!

Thanks for the insightful review!

carol on September 21, 2009 at 11:59 AM said...

What a great product! I think it is really smart looking!

chazvgo on September 21, 2009 at 2:00 PM said...

Wow I really need one of these :)

Charlene Kuser on September 21, 2009 at 11:56 PM said...

This is a very good review.I think this is
better than alot of the other products out there

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