I’ll start by saying Happy New Year and I hope you’ve all made it back to your desks and screens indigestion free and without having to let out too many notches on your belts as a result of too much festive indulgence…
Right, lets dust off the cobwebs and actually take a look at something.
With an alleged clampdown on mobile phone use whilst driving on the cards there has been a sudden surge of Bluetooth devices on the market designed to safely render your phone a hands free device while you are on the road. That’s nothing new of course, you can spot them easily, drivers lounging behind the wheel of their Mondeo/Beemer/Merc (delete as appropriate) with a Borg like appendage dangling from their ear (complete with glowing light) marks them out a mile off. In some ways its no wonder that drivers shun these devices because lets be honest they aren’t pretty.
However up until now the options for the pedestrian on the go have been somewhat more limited. However that has been changed of late courtesy of an iPod compatible device that I picked up over the Christmas period.
Lets take a look at my scenario, I walk, quite a bit actually. Being as driving anywhere these days can turn out to be a somewhat restrictive process I opted out in the hope that it would save me money and make me a little fitter (so far only one of those has happened and I’m not touting anything remotely resembling a six pack). As a result my iPod has become a constant companion and my phone resides in a padded compartment in my rucksack. That’s all well and good as I stride out with a headful of tunes for company, but more and more I was finding I was oblivious to the calls being made to my phone or the messages that were landing in my inbox on my journeys. A few times I was missing calls that were time sensitive and I often wished there was a solution.
Fortunately someone has now come along to bridge the gap and it has to be said it’s a pretty comprehensive one as well. The BlueEye is a Bluetooth adaptor that fits pretty much any iPod with a Universal Dock adaptor on the bottom and allows you to take and make calls without actually touching your phone.
Roughly the size of a standard iPod remote control it slots into the dock on the bottom of your device, you then clip it to your shirt or jacket and any traditional headphones plug into the top and away you go. Stick on your tunes and get going and all is as normal. When you receive a call the BlueEye kicks in and stops your music and gives you the option of taking or rejecting call. If you opt to take the call then your headphones handle the incoming voice while the BlueEye adaptor itself becomes your microphone. It really is that simple..
When you take a call, your iPod screen even displays the number that allows you to decide whether or not you wish to talk at that given point. And the play and volume buttons become your tools of navigation as you start and end the conversation. Making a call works in a similar way, you can use the BlueEye buttons to scroll through the last nine numbers who contacted you (again on the iPod screen) and even use voice activated dialling. Your mileage may vary with this one, the phone itself has to be voice dial compatible and in all honesty this is something I’ve always found more miss than hit so I didn’t persevere with this feature that much.
Setting up the device takes a minute at best. You simply hold down the Bluetooth button and put in a “pairing code” with your phone and the devices are then linked. As soon as you switch on your iPod a link is established and as soon as you turn it off your phone is returned to normal. I tested the BlueEye on a couple of Nokia’s and a Blackberry and it setup fine on all machines. Call quality is spot on and even though the microphone can sometimes be considerably further away from you than you would normally experience people I spoke to using the device reported relatively little amounts of background noise to impede the conversation.
Add to this the BlueEye also has a thoroughly respectable FM radio and you have a nice dual purpose device. Granted the stations are a little fiddly to setup but once its done you won’t have to do it again and the reception is pretty clear for a device so small. After you get used to using the BlueEye and get over the self conscious aspect of what appears to be talking to yourself in public what you have here is a handy little device that for those of you who spend your lives with music jammed in your ears should prove relatively valuable. Definitely one of my favourite iPod toys of last year.