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Given the increasingly piffling cost of Bluetooth kit, it ought to be standard fit on all but the most rudimentary econo-cars. Sadly, the car industry is currently addicted to ripping consumers off with overpriced options list items. If Bluetooth isn't standard on the base model, it rarely comes cheaply. It's therefore unsurprising if disappointing to find that Insight buyers have to pay thousands more than the Insight's £15,990 base price to secure an example with hands-free telephony support.
Anyway, if you do plump for the top end ES-T model, what exactly do you get in terms of Bluetooth telephony? The first thing you'll notice is the clunky set-up routine. For reasons that are far from clear, Bluetooth syncing is achieved via voice command only. The central touch-screen is not an option for setup. In practice, phone syncing is a pretty rare occurrence, but it's hard to imagine why Honda thought forcing people to battle with a slightly recalcitrant voice recognition system rather than at least offering the option to punch in the required data via the touch-screen was a good idea.
However, the voice control aside, the syncing process is actually pretty rapid and fault free. In fact, the Insight was the first car we've test to successfully not only sync with but also automatically pull a full list of contacts off our HTC Touch HD test handset. Windows Mobile phones tend to get the better of most systems. The syncing process with a Motorola mobile was similarly effective.
Once you're up and running, it all works pretty well. The voice recognition for number dialing is accurate enough and there's a programmable 50-entry list of voice-controlled contacts. That said, it's obviously not as sophisticated as systems that have a stab at automatically recognising imported contacts using a phonetic database.