Although the TomTom Hands-free Car Kit for iPhone has a physical iPhone connector, it actually supports Bluetooth with HFP and A2DP and uses this for its audio connection to your iPhone. Once the phone and mount are paired, you can use the Kit with the phone whether the latter is in the cradle or not. Pairing is pretty easy, as once you press the menu button on the Kit it prompts you verbally to pair the devices, and guides you through the process.
We connected the TomTom Hands-free Car Kit to an iPhone 3GS and placed a few calls whilst on the road. Audio quality was very good, with even a hearing aid-equipped elderly person having no problems making out what we were saying. What's more, the menu button on the right calls up voice control on your iPhone, so you can give it commands hands-free as well. There's also a volume control on the right edge, but we found the sound to be perfectly audible above the engine noise in our car, at around the 75 per cent mark. When the phone isn't in the mount, you can accept and reject calls using large and obvious buttons on the mount itself. So you can talk easily even if your phone is in your pocket whilst you are driving.
We also tested the mount with the latest 1.11 version of TomTom's navigation app. This comes with support for the Kit so you can use the latter's speaker, and the latest TomTom maps. It's a free download if you have already purchased any of the previous versions. It also expands TomTom's social media obsession with support for foursquare, so you can post your destinations using this service and navigate to where your friends have checked in. You can also now copy and paste addresses from other websites, and the TomTom app will automatically parse these into a sensible destination. We found this worked quite well with the addresses we tried.
As we mentioned earlier, TomTom also now does kits that aren’t for the iPhone. There’s a kit for the same price with broadly similar features to the iPhone one, but using a mount that will fit most smartphone configurations, as long as they are 54-80.5mm wide and 100-127.5mm tall. This is ready and waiting for the imminent arrival of the Android version of TomTom's navigation app. There’s also a charger kit for £39.99 and a mount for £24.99 that merely secures your phone onto an air vent, with no electrical features whatsoever.
At £79.99, the TomTom Hands-free Car Kit for iPhone is rather expensive as mounting kits go. It can also be purchased with the TomTom iPhone app navigation software as a bundle for £129.99. This is pricey, but in our testing TomTom's software is the best iPhone navigation app on the market, and can happily replace a standalone device, particularly as it supports the same HD Traffic service as TomTom's LIVE products, making it great for regular rush-hour commuters. So the Hands-free Car Kit is not the best value, but it provides high-quality hardware to go with TomTom's excellent navigational abilities.