Jabra FREEWAY review: your hands or the freeway
A Closer Look: Design
Of course, it goes without saying that if you want to invest good money in an in-car speaker, the safety aspect of being able to operate it efficiently and effectively without causing any form of distraction to the person sitting at the wheel is of utmost importance. As such, a good in-car wireless speaker system for mobile phones should sport a design that is small enough to avoid being too attention grabbing in order to meet the aforementioned needs, along with excellent audio quality. Without further ado, here is the Jabra FREEWAY wireless Bluetooth in-car speaker in all its unboxed glory.
Here is a tip: the most important piece of the package is the instruction manual we've placed below the FREEWAY in-car speaker. No, really.
Even though Jabra has stated that the FREEWAY can be operated almost entirely through voice commands, there still exists physical buttons for a user to fall back on in the event the FREEWAY fails to recognize the oral commands delivered to it. Located right smack in the middle of both button rows lies the FREEWAY's speakers, which, according to Jabra, consists of two, 3W mid-range speakers and a sub-woofer.
We spoke that the Jabra FREEWAY makes use of physical buttons, but users should not be surprised if the alleged buttons are nowhere to be found on the unit. This is because all the buttons have been cleverly hidden behind the FREEWAY's matte-finished surface.
Granted, the way a device's bottom is designed usually has little impact on a consumer's purchasing decision, so it is generally accepted that most manufacturers will focus their efforts on beautifying the areas of a device's exterior which are immediately visible to the consumer. However, the FREEWAY does not appear to follow this practice; while it lacks the smooth matte finish that is present on its surface, it is still kept clean and simple, with almost every single screw hole well covered up with black stickers. Also present here is the metal clip used for clamping the FREEWAY onto the sun visor.
Speaking of screws, DIY-ers and enthusiasts will probably be a little disappointed to find out that the FREEWAY does not make use of the common slot or Phillips screw heads; instead, a Torx-head screw is used to secure the FREEWAY's plastic body together. Clearly, Jabra did not want to have people poking around the FREEWAY's innards, especially if they do not know what they are supposed to be doing. However, Torx screwdrivers are easily available in most DIY stores today, so it should not pose a problem to the determined enthusiast.
We have spoken about the FREEWAY's side buttons and I/O ports (or the lack of it) in a previous event coverage, so we will not be giving this section much focus. Suffice to say, the FREEWAY is not intended to be a speaker system intended for serious media playback. And yes, that mini-USB port is only there for charging purposes and the occasional firmware upgrade.
Lastly, you would have realized that this is one of the few reviews where the device was not disassembled to give the readers a look at the hardware being used to power it. This is because the FREEWAY was designed in such a way that there exists two additional screw holes concealed behind the velvet strip which the FREEWAY's sun visor clip rests on. However, the thin velvet strip has been adhered to the main body with a rather strong adhesive that will only result in the destruction of the strip should we attempt to pry it off the FREEWAY; this means that the only means of accessing the FREEWAY's innards will be to poke through the velvet strip with our Torx screwdriver to gain access to the screws. And since the review unit is not ours to keep, it goes without saying that we are extremely reluctant to send back a battle-scarred FREEWAY that features two new holes not previously documented in the device's specifications.