A high-end handsfree kit for iPhone – Parrot MK 9200i

Anyway it was time to invest in a proper hands-free kit, but I wanted to keep the jukebox functionality that I had become used to with my old iTrip.

>The Parrot MK9200i brings together 3 important features:

  1. Proper Hands-free calls (integrated with car audio system)
  2. Jukebox (play music through car audio system)
  3. DC Charging Station (to keep the battery in juice)

The iTrip could charge the iPhone and act as a Jukebox, but audio was over FM so the listening experience wasn’t exactly amazing. Of course with a price differential of 500% there would want to be a serious upside.

I got my Parrot professionally installed at CarCom on Henry Street, Limerick. The total cost incl. of VAT was €270 and I left my car with them for 2 hours in the city centre to get installed.

The new Parrot is like an octopus in that it comes with a plethora of components, althought its a relatively neat and seamless install really.

  • A mini colour display that sticks on the dash and lets you see what’s going on in the iPhone basically (also has an SD memory slot in the back).
  • A central “CPU” box that is installed out of sight inside the casing of the dashboard (behind glove compartment in my Mazda 6 v.2003)
  • A twin input stereo microphone that is wired above the drivers seat, near the rearview mirror
  • An input controller with rotating knob for volume and scrolling plus 5 more buttons for call, hang up, prev, next, and play.
  • A multi-connector lead that sits losely in my glove compartment with iPhone Dock, Line-in, and USB connections.

For anybody with the iPhone you really should upgrade the firmware on this Parrot, there are several iPhone specific performance fixes. At the time of writing the unit ships with software V 1.12 but latest available is 4 or 5 releases later at v 1.40.

Review – Pros

  • The Audio is really great on playing music directly through the iPhone Dock connector.
  • Microphone sound quality is excellent, other people can hear you loud and clear over the Bluetooth calling device. This was a major problem using a Jabra in-ear handsfree device previously and drove people crazy at the other end with distortion and interference.
  • The twisty knob control works well for calling and navigating, so you can safely twiddle it while driving if you’re careful.
  • The CPU stores all your numbers into its own memory and syncs regularly so you see all your recent Call History etc.

Review – Cons

  • I have noticed some latency at times in the controls, you sometimes have to wait a couple of seconds for the screen to change and its not 100% responsive.
  • €270 is quite a bit of money to spend for a lot of people, yet there are no realistic alternatives that I can see.
  • The Graphical User Interface is a little confusing and could be a little more intuitive I would say, but the software updates might help this over time

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