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Thursday, April 17, 2014         

TECH VIEW


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Obeying hands-free law easier than endangering self and others

By John Agsalud

POSTED:



It's a given that technology makes a lot of things easier. So we continue to be confounded when we see folks not taking advantage of some very basic technologies to make their lives easier. The single biggest example of this is the astounding numbers of folks who, in spite of well-publicized laws preventing it, continue to press their cell phones to their ears while driving.

In Honolulu the simple act of holding a cell phone has been banned for nearly two years now. Neighbor island counties also have passed cell phone bans in recent months. New York City, California, Washington -- D.C. and state -- have similar bans. But in Hawaii and across the mainland, not a day goes by without seeing someone on their phone, often driving recklessly.

Why these people don't take advantage of the technologies for hands-free devices, which is permitted just about everywhere, we'll never know. There are basically three ways for hands-free use. First, you can use the built-in speaker of your cell phone, which most phones have, but this isn't always the most reliable technology, especially in a moving car.

Another alternative is to use a wired earpiece, the likes of which have been around nearly since the advent of the cell phone. Such earpieces often come with the phone, or can be had just about anywhere electronics are sold for less than $10. Be careful: Not all wired headsets fit with all phones, even if the plug fits the hole.

The last and best choice is a wireless solution based on Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth is the de facto wireless communications standard for cell phones and other devices and facilitates hands-free calls. Bluetooth devices range in size from small earpieces to larger headsets that make the fast-food drive-through jockey envious. Bluetooth earpieces start at less than $10 and can approach $100 for the fancier models.

As far as Bluetooth earpieces go, you do get what you pay for. The more expensive models have better battery life, noise cancellation features to improve the quality of the call, and even stereo.

Many new cars are now coming with Bluetooth-enabled communications systems that come with microphones and speakers that allow surprisingly high-quality, hands-free calls while in the car. Alternatively, after-market kits allow Bluetooth communications to be installed in a car, handy nowadays, since no one buys new cars anymore.

How do you get around the Honolulu law that says you can't hold your phone? How do you dial, for example? Most so-called smart phones, such as the iPhone, Evo, Droid and others have the built-in ability to dial based on voice commands. This is an easy-to-use feature many people seem to avoid because they think it's hard to set up.

John Agsalud is an IT expert with more than 20 years of information technology experience in Hawaii and around the world. He can be reached at johnagsalud@yahoo.com.

 





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