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Are You Ready to Go Hands-Free Tomorrow?

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Tomorrow, this will be illegal Photo by berbercarpet via flickr

Tomorrow talking on your mobile phone pressed up against your ear while driving will be just as illegal as running a red light, speeding or driving under the influence. In today’s LA Times a spokesman for the CHP, Tom Marshall, said the CHP would enforce the law "fairly and aggressively."

What are you planning to do to avoid getting yourself a ticket? The law was passed way back on September 15, 2006, giving you 22 months to find a hands-free device. For those of you who cram until the last day we’ve put together a cheat sheet for you with some of the options that are available to you, because there are a hell of a lot of options.

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Paul Esshaki a wireless expert for the mobile phone and accessory chain, Wireless Toyz, a mobile phone and accessory chain with more than 200 stores across 24 states including locations in North Hollywood and Pasadena, says “Most (customers) come in believing there will be only one or two headsets to choose from, rather than an entire section of the store dedicated to different devices from Bluetooth-enabled car mounts to Bluetooth and wired headsets of all shapes, sizes and colors.”

While, as Paul mentions, there are all shapes, sizes and colors for Bluetooth headsets very few of them won't make you look like a douchebag. Sound ID SM100and Jawbone are two of the best looking options we discovered. People who know more about this stuff than we do seem to dig them as well; CNET, Engadget and Crunchgear are just a few of the tech sites who have given Sound ID's offering glowing reviews, while WIRED and PC World gave high marks to the Jawbone.

Paul says, "We also have a lot of people coming in and asking about the Jawbone Bluetooth, it also eliminates background noise using military-grade technology and provides sound quality analyzing and adjusting microphone and earpiece performance throughout your call." He adds, "Plantronics makes two great Bluetooth-enabled options the Plantronics Voyager 510 and Plantronics Voyager 520. Both models are very reliable and have features like noise cancellation and WindSmart technology that enable clearer communication between you and your caller."

Bluetooth headsets will run you anywhere between $29.99 -$179.99.

If you're still skeptical about the look and feel of a Bluetooth headset, don't worry there are plenty of other options.

Paul says, "For those that do not like using an ear piece, or if they do not plan to use the device beyond their car, the BlueAnt Supertooth Light has been a very popular choice. It allows you to affix it to your car visor or dashboard, pairs easily with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, is easy to use and the sound quality is great."

Along with Paul's pick, we also liked the concept of the Parrot PMK5800 which delivers voice over the vehicle's speakers through a high-quality FM stereo transmitter. Parrot is the same company that is campaigning to change the California state bird to...the parrot.

Paul tells us, "An in car device typically ranges anywhere from $69.99 - $199.99."

If you're in the market for a new car, many manufacturers are throwing in Bluetooth capabilities in their newest models. We took a ride in a Ford Fusion which was hooked up with the Ford Sync system powered by Microsoft. Unlike the offerings from Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Sync offers a total hands-free experience with voice commands for your phone, mp3 player, radio and navigation. Sync, which goes for the option price of $395 on most Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, can read out loud your text messages in its somewhat sexy female voice (which also recognizes emoticons). It may take a couple days to get used to Sync, as like most females she is very particular about what you say to her, but once you get used to it you'll be impressed with what she can do.

Ford Sync isn't the only hands-free system helping you read and reply to texts without the use of your hands, there is also the new Dial2Do system which lets you go voice activated on your Twitter, blog, email and update your calendar.

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So what's the expert currently using?
Paul says, "I have tried a lot of hands free devices out there and there are a lot of good ones. While it ultimately depends on the lifestyle of the individual, I'm currently using the new BlueAnt Supertooth 3 device in my car; it has terrific noise cancellation, a clear speaker and includes voice recognition as a new feature."

We just gave you some of the options available, feel free to run out and get one of these or one of the several other devices on the market that we didn't mention. But if you don't like these ideas, you could just refuse to pick your phone up and call back when you aren't endangering the lives of everyone else on the road or take both eyes off of the road and use both hands to send text messages, because texting while driving is still legal for some reason.

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