Along with being dangerous, talking on your cell phone while driving is becoming very costly. All across the country, lawmakers are beginning to pass laws prohibiting the practice. But still, most of us cruise down the highway with one hand on the wheel while carrying on a conversation.

While I’ve previously liked the idea of a Bluetooth speakerphone for my car, I’ve always been turned off by two issues – I have to remember to power it on every time I get into my vehicle and the battery needs to be recharged.

But the SmartTalk Solar speakerphone from Griffin definitely takes care of both of those issues.

The Good

Compared to other speakerphones, thin is in for the SmartTalk Solar. The device is very small and lightweight. Along with the speaker on the bottom, there is a multi-function button on the top and volume buttons in the middle. It’s designed to attach directly to your windshield with a suction cup mount.

The most unique feature of the speakerphone is definitely its solar charging capability. The flip side of the SmartTalk Solar is completely made up of a solar cell. Ideally, the unit is designed to remain permanently on your windshield, as the sun’s rays will always keep the battery full.

After initially juicing up the unit with the included micro-USB charger, it has been very nice to use it without having to worry about the battery ever being empty.

Continuing with the set-it-and-forget-it theme, the SmartTalk Solar also features motion detection auto-connect technology. As long as Bluetooth is enabled on your iPhone, the speakerphone will automatically turn on and connect each time you enter the vehicle. After not sensing movement for a certain period time after leaving your vehicle, the unit kicks into power saving mode.

The technology worked as advertised every try during testing and was a real time saver.

For families, the speakerphone also features multipoint pairing that allows two different phones to connect simultaneously. That will definitely help on long road trips when both my wife and I are receiving calls.

The Bad

As far as sound quality goes, I’d caution to not expect a loud, overwhelming punch. Even though I really liked the small body size, it is a limiting factor.

During my tests, with the volume at the maximum level on both the speakerphone and my iPhone 4S, I usually had to turn my radio off completely and even turn down my air conditioner to begin to fully understand every word of the conversation. That was definitely a little disappointing.

Callers reported that my voice, even though I was obviously on a speakerphone, came in loud and clear with little or no distortion. Thankfully, I didn’t even have to raise my voice to be fully understood.

I’d also recommend that you make sure to clean the inside of your windshield before installing the SmartTalk Solar. After dealing with a few frustrating days of a suction cup losing grip, I did an extensive scrub down, and the unit hasn’t moved since.

Verdict

While not perfect, I think the SmartTalk Solar is a great companion for your iPhone. As long as you’re not expecting booming sound, the solar and motion detection technology are definitely unique. In my brief time using the speakerphone, it was really nice to know that it would automatically work every time I entered my vehicle.

The SmartTalk Solar is $69.99 and can be purchased directly from Griffin.