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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]
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