Review: Griffin SmartTalk Solar can charge using solar power
At a Glance
For me, there’s something quite liberating when I can waltz out of my house with a Bluetooth gadget that requires no cable/s for recharging. Case in point: the $70 SmartTalk Solar by Griffin Technology.
As its name suggests, Griffin’s car speakerphone uses sunlight to replenish battery life. The company provides a plastic mounting case, which I attached to my windshield using the two (included) suction cups. This bracket stayed firmly in place during jaunts around town, including all those times I slid the unit in and out of it.
Griffin says that the SmartTalk needs about nine hours of direct sunlight right out of the box, and after you use it the first time, some daily exposure to the sun's rays is necessary to keep the unit charged. I live in California, so regular sunshine is usually in good supply. But if you live in a gloomy climate, you’re still covered: Griffin includes a car charger and USB cable as non-solar charging options.
The SmartTalk is extremely slender and light, which made lugging it around a non-event. I’m used to speakerphones perched on the visor, and although the SmartTalk was mounted on my windshield, I had no difficulties accessing the large multi-purpose call button or the volume controls below it.
Unfortunately, when I paired the SmartTalk to my Motorola Droid Razr Maxx phone, the overall audio quality proved to be mediocre. Similarly to most other Bluetooth speakerphones I've tested, the consistent complaint among callers was that my voice sounded muffled and far away. While I was speaking, listeners could understand what I was saying with very little background noise being picked up. But with the windows rolled down, listeners were able to pick up the whoosh of passing traffic.
On the other side of the equation, callers’ voices played through the SmartTalk sounded just so-so to me as well. Their conversations sounded a bit tinny and splotchy here and there. Again, while I had no trouble understanding what they were saying, I did have to concentrate somewhat on their sentences. Overall, the controls were basic and the call quality was fair (but not outstanding); the SmartTalk's main selling point is its solar charging capabilities, which may not be enough to distinguish it from competing models.
Worth noting: If you’re interested in buying a window- or windshield-mounted speakerphone, remember to check your state’s appropriate laws on whether you can install a device in your car this way. Some states specify the exact location on your windshield where you are permitted to do so.