The Nexxus DriveMultiSolar is a well built solar-powered Bluetooth car kit. The advantages that solar power brings are numerous. This includes longer talk and standby time, as well as having no cables trawling over your dashboard. As is hinted by the name, the device also comes with a multi-point connection, allowing you to connect two mobiles.
MobileFun, a specialist retailer of mobile accessories, kindly sent over the DriveMultiSolar for us to review. The device is also known as the Clip and Talk Solar Edition according to the retailer and costs £29.95. MobileFun applies a small delivery charge on top of this depending on whether shipping is to the UK or mainland Europe.
It utilizes the latest Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR standard so you shouldn’t have any issues with compatibility. This standard also enables better security and automatic pairing compared to Bluetooth 2.0.
The ‘ecological’ message of using a solar-powered device is emphasized on the side of the packaging. Whilst solar power can’t be used in a lot of gadgets, this is one area where it works beautifully – especially considering many will keep it attached to the underside of the car windscreen (solar panel facing skywards).
Other features include a noise cancelling omni-directional microphone. The 16-bit digital signal processor (DSP) the Solar Car-Kit filters the surrounding noise and reduces the echo of your own voice. You also get Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology that enables the device to announce an incoming callers name or phone number.
There are a number of accessories included in the box, including the DriveMultiSolar Bluetooth speakerphone, in-car charger, USB charging cable, windscreen mount/bracket with suction cups and user manual.
Nexxus has included a reasonably detailed manual for the DriveMultiSolar. This covers how to install the mount as well as thorough instructions on how to pair & sync the Bluetooth device with your phone.
Nexxus has covered every base in terms of the accessories provided, they even include a couple of extra rubber mounts, just in case the old ones degrade.
The car charger is designed for convenience of use. It includes a round grip that makes it easy to plug in & out of the car. The charger voltage is DC5.0V 550 mAh. The DriveMultiSolar takes around three hours to charge directly.
The charger has a modular approach, which means you won’t find it attached with a cable that can be messy when stored. It simply has a USB port at the back that is used to attach a USB cable when needed. The fact that these USB cables are easy to source, means it should last a long time if the cable malfunctions.
Lastly, we have the obligatory LED that lets us know if the charger is attached corrected. The thumb grips can be seen on the side.
Nexxus includes a USB to Micro USB cable in the box. This means you can use it to charge the DriveMultiSolar from both the car and PC/laptop.
The windscreen mount is made out of tough clear plastic and includes two rubber suction cups on the top and bottom. Foam buffers adorn the corners of the bracket to stop it scratching the windscreen.
Nexxus were also thoughtful enough to include two extra rubber suction cups, just incase the others get lost or damaged.
The DriveMultiSolar uses Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (enhanced data rate) that operates on the 2.4 GHz – 2.48 GHz unlicensed ISM frequency band. It is designed to work up to 10 metres, which shouldn’t be in issue given that it will be used in a car. The DriveMultiSolar can store up to eight paired devices in its memory. It also supports headset and handset 1.5 profiles.
The design of the device has been well thought out. A large button at the top is used to answer/end a call, power the device on/off, put it into pairing mode, redial the last number called and activates voice dialing. As you can probably tell, this key has quite a few functions, which are all well explained in the manual. To start using the device you have to keep this button pressed for about four seconds until you hear a short beep and the blue LED flashes five times.
Underneath this is a silver rocker bar that is used to increase/decrease speaker volume. The whole thing is quite small and has dimensions of 92.5 x 54 x 15.5 mm.
The mute button sits to the left of the device and the USB charging port sits on the right. Before using for the first time, you are recommended to fully charge the device from the USB port (either through the car charger or PC).
A large solar panel occupies most of the backside of the DriveMultiSolar. Nexxus has used as much space as possible to ensure that the most amount of light is captured.
The DriveMultiSolar uses a 650mAh lithium-ion battery. It takes around three hours to charge via USB or 18 hours via the solar panel. Once fully charged, the device is quoted to give you up to 13 hours of talk time and 800 hours of standby time (excluding solar use).
I’ve been testing it for a fortnight and the battery is still going strong. However, I’m a light user when it comes to making calls in the car and it would be interesting to see how well the solar power could supplement the battery for more heavy users. For reference, a 2-hour solar charge will give you around 1 hour of talk time.
The car kit is easily attached to the windscreen via the rubber suction cups. Installation is a breeze and to be honest once it has been set up, there’s probably no need to remove it. It’s best to place it out of sight, it is recommended to place it towards the top edge of the windscreen.
To pair the kit to the phone you need to put the device into pairing mode by turning the kit off and then pressing and holding the answer button for about 10 seconds until the lights flashed red and blue. You then need to search on your phone for Bluetooth devices and select the Bluetooth car kit.
The car kit also supports multipoint technology, enabling you to connect two phones at a time. You first need to enable multipoint by pressing and hold the + button for about 3 seconds. As long as both phones are in range, it will then connect with the last two phones that it had connected to previously. When a call comes through to either of the handsets, the kit automatically connects to the phone that’s ringing and route it through the speaker.
In practice this worked very well, picking up calls separately and I was even able to make outgoing calls easily too. Personally I only carry one handset at a time, but there are plenty of people that have one business and one personal handset.
The DriveMultiSolar has a 2 Watt speaker that should be loud enough to hear the other person whilst driving. Testing it around the local roads was no problem, however I didn’t get a chance to see how it would fare on the motorway at higher speeds or in bad weather conditions (wind, rain etc). In all the calls I made, the Bluetooth signal held together and didn’t experience any dropouts.
Overall, I was very impressed by the DriveMultiSolar car kit. Use of a solar panel fits perfectly with this type of device. The fact that for most users you’ll probably never need to charge the kit speaks volumes. It can just sit on your windscreen to make calls whilst on the move, both safely and legally. Pairing was easy and call quality was good. For just £29.95 it offers great value for money too. Recommended.
Many thanks to MobileFun for sending through this Bluetooth car kit for review!