updated 10:25 am EDT, Wed March 23, 2011
Jabra Freeway intros as we give a hands-on
Jabra used CTIA to unveil an atypically advanced Bluetooth speakerphone. The Freeway is unique in building in a third speaker. Adding an extra channel to the 5W system both improves the loudness and adds bass response for those who want to use it for music.
Motion sensing is also uncommon. Once set up and paired, it can detect when it's in a car and knows to turn on as soon as the car door opens; similarly, it can tell when the engine has shut off and it's no longer needed.
The device also has a tie-in with VoiceAssist for voice commands beyond just calls. A free one-year subscription in the box gives users the option of dictating most any text, such as an SMS or a social network update, without needing an OS that explicitly supports it. Regular subscriptions cost $59.
Given the audio focus, Jabra claims virtual surround sound and supports A2DP for direct stereo sound. Drivers if they like can also pair up with two devices and can pipe audio through FM to the car stereo.
It ships in May for $129.
We had the opportunity to try the Freeway at CTIA on Tuesday night. The speakers are certainly loud, enough so to be discernible over the background noise of a convention room, but we're not sure if we'd use it for more than talk radio or other music streams. Bass is more evident, but it's still clear the sound is coming from a 5W speaker array. For calls, though, it should be very useful.
The controls are relatively simple with obvious buttons for "FM," "mute," and "voice." We didn't have the opportunity to try a phone call in the noisy environment of a trade show, but we did get proof Bluetooth streaming works well from an iPhone.