Top critical review
102 people found this helpful
on 2 November 2012
In summary, for those who don't want a long review:
Pros - works with Samsung Galaxy S3, sync'd contacts well, good voice recognition, turns itself on and off, battery life good if not using Magic Words for outgoing calls
Cons - battery life terrible if using Magic Words for outgoing calls, unable to set own Magic Word, unable to use green and red buttons if clipped over slightly wide sun visor
First off, out of the box my unit was charged to 100% - that's always good. In the box was the unit itself, a usb cable and a car charger unit to plug the usb cable into, plus a sheet of instructions - none of them in English. So first step is to find the instruction in English on the web. I obviously skipped that step and just slide the power button on. Next I turned on bluetooth on my Samsung Galaxy S3, did a scan and it found the Parrot and connected. The phone book was automatically downloaded and the Parrot said "Phonebook downloaded". All good so far.
I would recommend everyone to use the default settings for Magic Words. "Magic Words" is the name given by Parrot for voice recognition. There are 2 options - Magic Words for incoming calls and Magic Words for outgoing calls. Magic Words for incoming calls is set to "ON" and when you receive a call the Parrot says who is calling (if they are in your phonebook) and asks if you want to Accept or Reject the call. Magic Words for outgoing calls allows you to say "MINIKIT" and then the Parrot asks who you want to call. This is set to "OFF" by default. It sounds like a good option to turn on, but a word of warning here - it will drain the battery in less than 10 hours even if you do not make any calls. Also, the Parrot never goes into Deep Sleep (in order to achieve the claimed 6 months standby battery life). I also experienced the Parrot asking me on several occasions who I wanted to call when I had not said "MINIKIT" - I had the radio on and I guess the Parrot thought it heard the Magic Word. You are unable to set the Magic Word ("MINIKIT") to anything else, and I keep forgetting the word - annoying. So as I said, once you have finished playing you will want to turn off Magic Words for outgoing calls unless you have the Parrot permanently wired into the car.
So how do you make a call then, if you don't use Magic Words for outgoing calls? You either push the rotary knob and go to the phonebook menu and then select the first letter of the person to call and then scroll through all the names starting with that letter until you find the one you want to dial (not easy if you have 800 contacts in your phonebook), or you press the Green button and the Parrot asks you who you want to call. The voice recognition works really well, and it seemed like I didn't need Magic Words for outgoing calls at all. That is until I squeezed the Parrot over the sun visor in the car. It fits pretty snugly and the "jaws" of the Parrot are opened as wide as they can. And this is when you realise that the Parrot has an engineering flaw, and that it has probably only ever been tested on a desk and not in a car. With the "jaws" opened as much as possible the Green and Red buttons will not depress, meaning you can't make or end calls using them. I've found that sliding the Parrot to the end of my sun visor, where it is the thinnest I can just get a little movement on the green button to make a call. I've really not got an especially thick visor (it's a Volvo V70), so I would say this is a pretty major flaw.
Battery life with Magic Words for outgoing calls turned off seems pretty good so far. I'm on 80% after 3 days with not too many calls made/received, so I'm expecting to have to recharge every week or so. The auto power on/off feature works well, with a tune playing when you open a door to let you know it's now turned back on, quickly followed by a beep to let you know the phone is connected. Volume is OK, but a little too quiet in my opinion, even turned up full. I can't really see the point in the NFC recognition. It means you have to take the phone out of your pocket and tap it on the Parrot - kind of defeats the purpose of having a fully automatic bluetooth device that powers up and down.
I was going to send the unit back due to the engineering flaw, but now I have found a thin part of my sun visor where the green key can be pressed 50% of the time I've decided to keep it. The reason for keeping it are the good voice recognition of the names you want to call, and who is calling you, the auto power on/off, and the fact that it works with my Android phone - the Samsung Galaxy S3 - which a lot of bluetooth devices just don't. The Magic Words for outgoing calls remains firmly off.