Parrot Minikit Neo Handsfree Bluetooth Kit review

Some good features, 10-device storage, 6-mounth standby mode, free app is useful

Pricey against the average bluetooth headset

Parrot Minikit Neo?

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If you want a bluetooth kit for making phone calls when driving, the choice of product and manufacturer is absolutely immense. Parrot is one of the big brands available, and we were sent their Parrot Minikit Neo to review. With so many headsets and hands-free kit’s available, why would you part with your hard-earned cash for this one? We review the Parrot Minikit Neo so you know what’s what.

Design and Build

If you’re looking at buying a hands-free kit, there’s a few things you don’t want; something bulky, as people normally fill every storage space with stuff already anyway, something loud-looking or in other words, a thief-magnet, but you also want it look half-decent at the same time, not some piece of rubbishy junk that looks like it belongs in 1983.

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The Minikit Neo is pretty much the opposite of all the above mentioned. First off, it’s not that big – around two-third’s the length of an iPhone 4, approximately 12 mm (0.47 inches) less wide, the same thickness as the iPhone 4, and an overall overall depth (including the clip section and button) of 40 mm (1.57″). You can easily slip the Minitkit Neo into even a small car door-pocket, the back pocket of a car seat, and it doesn’t take up much room in a glovebox at all.

Parrot mini kit neo hands free bluetooth iphone review

It’s also only available with matt black outer casing with a silver inner, and only a couple of LED lights for accepting and rejecting calls and a charger light, so it’s nicely inconspicuous too. Although it’s not showy, I like the Minikit Neo for its simple yet elegant design. There are only four buttons on it; one to answer calls and use the voice controller on your phone, a button to end calls or quit the menu on the device, a scroller wheel to select what you want from the menu, and a small on/off button, which doubles for telling you the battery level.

The Minikit Neo has a sprung section so you can attach it to your sun visor, and there’s also a sticky rubber patch on it for extra grip. The sprung section feels tough, like it’ll last and not break or weaken easily. The front panel is made of thin plastic and bends and flexes, feels cheap, but then it has to be thin as it’s actually an NXT vibrating panel producing the sound – working a bit like the Damson Audio Cisor BT5 resonating speaker we reviewed. Overall though, it’s fairly well made, and there’s enough quality there to reassure you you’ve bought a good product.

Weight  69 grams (2.43 oz)
Dimensions  (mm) L: 94, W: 54, Thickness: 39
Power/Battery life  Rechargeable Lithium Ion – 1000mAh battery | 10hrs talk-time, 6 months ‘deep sleep’
Warranty  1 year
Colours  Black with silver inner
Bundle  Parrot MINIKIT Neo, USB / micro-USB cable, 12V accessory socket charger – USB out
Website  Parrot UK, Parrot USA, Parrot Worldwide
Price  £69.99, U.S. $99.99

Features & Usability

Parrot mini kit neo hands free iphone bluetooth gadget review

Using the Minikit Neo is simple. Press the scroll wheel for your menu options, and that’s it really. After connecting it to your phone via bluetooth – or tap your NFC-compatible phone against the clip of the Minikit Neo to connect – it’ll automatically download your entire phone book, so long as it’s not on a sim card. You can have up to 10 devices stored on the Minikit too, with a 2,000 contacts per device, and it’ll store up to a whopping 20,000 total. Once that’s done, you can use the scroll wheel to select an A – Z lettering system, and then from there select your contact by letter category.

The other way to do it is to use the ‘Magic words’ settings. After switching these on for incoming and outgoing calls, you just say the word ‘Minikit’ to the device, and it’ll then ask you who you want to call. Once you’ve said that it asks almost immediately who you want to call. It works pretty well in physically recognising who you want to call, except long business names in your phonebook, and especially those with dash in between business name and person confuses system and it usually interjects before you can finish saying the name. Parrot though, have addressed this by giving you the option to make ‘Voice tags’ to replace the long name with a shorter one so it can understand it.

Parrot mini kit neo hands free iphone bluetooth gadget review

Regarding features, you’d think the Minikit Neo doesn’t do much more than make your calls, but Parrot have made sure they offer more than that, which is good as competition is stiff, and people want more bang for their buck nowadays. First off, there’s the ingenious ‘deep sleep’ mode. Say you’ve parked up and left the car while you’re away, but forgotten to turn off the Minikit Neo, it automatically goes into hibernation for up to a frankly-ridiculous (and pretty amazing) six months. Once you’ve gotten back to your car, done a face-palm after realising you’ve left the in-car charger for the Parrot at home, fear not, the Minikit Neo has a vibration-detector, and will ‘wake up’ as soon as you open the door. Brilliant.

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The rest of the stats for battery life are as follows; 10 hours call time, 15 days connected with two phones but not being used. What else is good though? If you’ve got a sat nav app on your smartphone, the vocal directions will be routed through the Parrot, giving you sound close to your ear, instead of it being barely audible from your phone’s speaker. You can also play your music through the Minikit Neo, and although the sound was a few decibels louder than my iPhone could put out, the quality was nowhere near as clear or clean.

A problem with playing music through the Minikit Neo is that it doesn’t pause when you press the scroll wheel to access your contacts, making it hard to hear who you’re meant to be calling. You also can’t say the ‘Minikit’ ‘magic’ word to phone someone, which I think is a flaw. Maybe an update will address it, eh Parrot?

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There’s also a free app for the Neo, and this unlocks further features, such as setting a message for rejected calls, dual mode pairing, and more. Some of these aren’t available on all smartphone’s though, which is a bit annoying. However, the one’s that did work with my iPhone 4 were the most useful anyway. ‘Find my car’ is a superb feature on the app. All you have to do is turn off your bluetooth, and the app memorises the GPS position at that time, showing you the way back to your car with an address, position (lat. & long.) and your ‘live’ position being show on a map. It worked quite accurately, and was only out by a few feet.

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As well as the other features, there’s a driving time reminder, which sends a chime through the Minikit Neo once the timer you set finishes. This will be great for truck drivers who work using a tachometer and dread going over their limit.

Price

The Parrot Minikit Neo is priced at £69.99 or U.S. $99.99 (August 2013). This isn’t a cheap thing to buy, and from a physical standpoint (its design) you probably wouldn’t fork out on it on looks alone. However, it does have some great features such as the six month standby, the ability to route the sat nav voice through it, and the fact that the voice recognition actually works well for once. If you’d shelled out the full price already, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with the product, but I feel around £59.00 would be a more tempting offer to buyers.

Parrot Minkit Neo verdict

I like the Minikit Neo. It’s simple to use, easy to conceal, and has some clever tech behind it too. As manufacturers put more and more gadgets into cars as standard, companies like Parrot need to keep innovative and pushing forward with what their products have as features, and the Minikit Neo has enough to keep you happy. Against a bluetooth headset, the Minikit Neo has the advantage of not making you look like a complete prat too, which is huge bonus.

Own a Tylt Tunz? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts! Also, check out our other audio gadget reviews here.

Design & Quality  8
Features  8.5
Price  7
Overall  8.0 / 10 

Words: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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