Make us your home page
Autos | Cell phone safety

Cell phone gadgets let you talk and keep both hands on the wheel

From the flimsy headset included with most cell phones to built-in Bluetooth in cars, talking while driving can be done with both hands on the wheel. Here are some options. McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

OnStar, the concierge service for GM cars: You push a button and the person on the other line will do almost anything you ask — for a monthly fee starting at $18.95.

Speakerphone: Sound quality has improved on cell phones so you can toss the phone in the passenger seat and still hear the conversation. The phone must have a built-in speaker already for this to work, plus sound quality can vary. Volume may not be loud enough since the small speaker must compete with car and road noises.

Wireless headset: Relies on Bluetooth technology to connect a phone to headset. Phone needs to also have Bluetooth. Though it does need to be charged (and you can't charge it in the car), Bluetooth headsets are compatible with any Bluetooth cell phone. Prices are all over the place, from $10 on sale to nearly $200. Tip: Bulky earpieces can feel heavy after a while, so look for something lightweight and comfortable.

Wired headset: Often included for free with cell phone, this is the cheapest way to go hands-free. You don't have to bother charging the headset, as you would a wireless headset. However, not all wired headsets work with every cell phone so make sure it's compatible with your phone before buying. Prices are usually around a few dollars.

Cars with built-in Bluetooth: It's difficult to beat an integrated system where cell phone conversations can be heard on the car's stereo. Volume can be adjusted by the radio's controls. Many integrated systems require you to set up phone numbers before the car starts moving. Plus, you'll need to buy a new car or buy and install a kit if yours doesn't have the capability.

Portable Bluetooth speakers: There's one that hooks to the car's visor. Another replaces a rearview mirror. And numerous GPS navigation units now come with built-in Bluetooth. These Bluetooth car kits offer better sound quality than a cell phone's speaker, and there's no messing with an earpiece. They also plug into a car's cigarette lighter so there's no need to charge up at home. Expect to pay $50 or more, as prices range from $30 to several hundred dollars.

Cell phone gadgets let you talk and keep both hands on the wheel 07/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 9:22am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]