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Bluetooth headsets and by extension Bluetooth hands-free devices in general are easily considerable as commodity items. Every now and again a Jawbone Noise Assassin comes along and redefines the benchmark to which its contemporaries should aspire, but for the most part they're all pretty much indistinguishable save for the brand stamped on the casing.
Just because all Bluetooth hands-free devices are created equal, though, doesn't mean that some aren't created more equal than others. Parrot's Minikit Slim is a perfect example of that. Parrot has taken the underlying 'must-have' features no Bluetooth hands-free kit can be without and added a lashing of spit and polish to come up with what might be the best example of its kind I've yet seen.
Aesthetically the Minikit Slim is relatively unremarkable and all the better for it. A matte black, slightly rubberised facia with a likewise understated silver surround hold the three interface buttons. At the rear is a sprung metal clip which partially betrays the Minikit Slim's intended placement - namely that it clips onto the driver's sun visor. While for the most part that's an absolutely great place for the device to sit, it does cause slight problems when driving into bright sunlight. When the visor is flipped down, the Minikit Slim is suddenly on the wrong side.
That quibble aside, there's precious little to dislike about the Parrot Minikit Slim. It would be good if the device was inconspicuous enough that it could be left in place when the car is parked, say, at a train station or supermarket, but other than that Parrot has done everything right.
Despite being some £20 less that the Jawbone, at around £55 it still looks as good, in its own way. And if you want a bit more of a design statement, there's a version called the Chic that's even more stylish, if a touch girly.
One interesting design feature is that the Minikit Slim doesn't actually sport a speaker, because the entire front surface is the speaker. Specifically, vibrating panel technology from a company called NZT is used and is what allows the Minikit Slim to live up to its name - this type of 'speaker' being inherently thinner than conventional types.
Build quality is as good as it looks, with both the buttons and control wheel providing a good feedback, which is obviously important as the device is meant to be used eyes-off. That's backed up by the most stand-out feature of the Parrot Minikit Slim; its built-in speech synthesis engine, which offers text-to-speech reading of contacts and menu items, and the ability to call contacts by speaking their names - without the need to record voice tags.