BlueAnt's S4 car speakerphone does much more than place and accept calls. By saying the magic phrase, "BlueAnt speak to me," you begin a touch-free interaction that allows near-instant access to movies, stock quotes, traffic information, weather, and much more. And if your memory is like mine, there is a second phrase that will really come in handy: "What can I say?" This provides a list of key words you can use to get the information you need.
The magic is the result of BlueAnt teaming up with Microsoft's Bing-411 service and Vlingo, allowing you to easily interact with an automated voice prompting system that delivers location-specific information quickly.
The results were equally impressive no matter what information I requested. It was delivered quickly and clearly. I really enjoyed the clear, crisp sound produced by the S4's speaker, even with the window open.
Another welcome feature is that you can have an entire conversation with a friend in the vehicle without the S4 saying a word, again, until you activate it with the magic phrase, "BlueAnt speak to me."
In addition to making and receiving calls, checking sports scores and weather reports, the S4 also has the ability to actually read your phone's messages, via Vlingo Safereader (You will want to download Vlingo Safereader in order to enjoy this feature).
Android users still running 2.0 will have to wait until the release of Froyo (2.2) in order to make truly hands-free calls.
Unlike its predecessor, which was lighter and made mostly of plastic, the S4 is made with quality build materials, including metal and smoked glass, has a comfortable weight to it, is sleeker and more rugged.
It adheres magnetically to a visor clip (included) to keep it firmly in place yet out of the way. On the front of the S4 you have several touch-sensitive controls. To increase the volume you simply swipe from the "-" to the "+". In the center is a button that can cancel or return you to the main menu. On the right side of the device is a rubberized on/off switch that is easy to find and activate.
The S4 comes with clear instructions, a car adapter, two visor clips, very clear user guide and trouble-shooting information, though you won't have much need for that since the device is virtually self-explanatory... literally.
What I Didn't Like
One drawback I noticed in putting the S4 through its paces was that it did not always immediately respond when I said, "BlueAnt speak to me." It could be that it was in standby mode and required a bit of a nudge, but I would prefer that it respond consistently when prompted. While I'm not leaving out of the possibly of operator error, the S4 did need repeated requests on occasion.
Also, while the S4 has excellent speaker quality, your experience will vary depending on the sound-proofing of your vehicle.
However, once engaged it was truly a cozy exchange in which a variety of useful information was provided by simply saying any number of action words.
Overall, the BlueAnt S4 car speakerphone is high quality, fun to use and a definite advance from their prior model.