LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Many newer model cars come with the capability to sync up your cell phone with the radio speakers to turn your car into a surround sound speaker phone. It may not be time for a new car, but you may be able to have the same hands free luxury using a small plug-in gadget known as the Jupiter Jack. On the packaging the bold yellow letters read "Turn Your Car Radio Into a Speakerphone!". The Jupiter Jack is a battery operated plastic device that has a male prong to insert into the headset jack of your cell phone. If your phone has another type of jack, this device comes with six common adapters to help fit. The instructions add that if the jacks provided still don't fit, you can contact the company and they'll try to find a match and send it to you for an extra $2.99. Fortunately, I eyed up the one I needed to make my phone work. I attached the Jupiter Jack to the adapter and plugged the unit into my phone as directed. With my cell phone on, I slid the power switch on the Jupiter jack to the "ON" position, which when active is signified by a red light. I then tuned to 99.3 on my radio. I noted that there's an option to tune to 101.3 as an alternate channel. I dialed Tom Annino and spoke briefly with him, trying both channel options on the Jupiter Jack.
I said, "Alright. I'm picking up Tom pretty well. He seems to be picking up me pretty well, but there's one problem. Both radio stations, 99.3 and 101.3 have pretty strong signals coming from outside broadcast stations. So watch what happens when I move the phone just a little bit. The radio comes back on full blast."
I moved to another car to give it another try, again on both channels 99.3 and 101.3. I had best results on 99.3, since 101.3 was an extraordinarily strong external signal.
I continued, "...I'm seeming to have the same problem (on channel 99.3) as well. Tom can you hear me okay?"
Tom answered, "Yep, I can hear you pretty well."
I went on to say, "Tom can hear me pretty well and it's coming in pretty decent in the vehicle. But again, as soon as I move this (phone) to a location where I'd put it for driving, the radio comes back on and I haven't done anything."
So the Jupiter Jack works intermittently while sitting still in the car depending on where the phone was in the vehicle. How about in a moving vehicle?
I asked Tom, "Are you getting decent sound quality from me?"
Tom replied, "It's not the greatest, it was better before."
The concept of hands free is supposed to reduce distractions while driving. I found I was more distracted and I had to move the phone frequently to hold a conversation. Even so, it was often mixed with sounds of music from the radio that both I and Tom could hear. The Jupiter Jack may work better on Uranus, but as far as here on Earth it gets a NO for this week's "Does it Work?" test. The Jupiter Jack cost us $19.99 at a Lake Charles business.
Web Extra: The Jupiter Jack was very simple to install and activate on the instructions. Once I had a connection, the sound quality on both ends was at about a 6-7 on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best. But, this was highly dependent on finding the exact location in the car where the radio synced best with the phone. The moment I moved the phone, I would mix the outside radio signal with the call, sometimes covering the phone conversation completely by the outside radio signal. The 99.3 frequency seemed to operate better that the 101.3 frequency here in town. I do believe, living in SLWA we'd have a good deal of trouble with this unit because of the flatness of the land and the strength of commercial broadcast radio stations utilizing frequencies at or near 99.3 and 101.3. Some mountainous locations may do better with the unit. While driving, it seemed that the person I was speaking to found that my voice quality would fade and become gargled at times. Regardless, there are many factors that could have hindered the use of this device, including it's own transmitting/receiving signal strength, the strength of local radio broadcasts on the designated frequency, location of the jack in relationship to the vehicle's antenna, the type of antenna on the vehicle, interference form my video & audio equipment from taping the segment, as well as many other issues. Bottom line, if you're looking for a dependable, hands-free unit, this device just didn't seem to hold up all the time.
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