Parrot CK3000 Bluetooth
Permanently installed in-car unit for cellphones
For the ultimate in
quality and convenience, you want to have a hard wired and
permanently installed hands-free system in your car.
This is what you need.
of our series on Bluetooth - more articles listed on
Do you want to have a
removable, plug into the cigarette
lighter type in-car hands-free kit, or would you prefer a
hardwired system like this?
Obviously the permanently
installed unit can only be used in one car. But - and as
you might also have guessed, in the one car in which it is
installed, it will give you much better sound quality than a
cigarette lighter driven accessory.
You decide which is right for
What you Get
The Parrot CK3000 unit
comes packed in a box, containing a lot of wiring harnesses and
adapters, plus the user control unit, the main box, and the
remote microphone. Helpful instructions for your installer
make his job easy (and thereby reduce your installation cost)
and an excellent manual make it easy for you to quickly become
familiar with this wonderful device.
The unit sells for $200-230
and has a one year warranty.
The CK3000 unit is
compatible with the Bluetooth 1.1 specification, which makes it
compatible with most other Bluetooth devices.
Unlike some earlier inferior
model Bluetooth products, the Parrot CK3000 contains profiles for
both headset and hands-free usage, and so will work with just
about every cell phone out there.
The unit can be paired with
three different phones simultaneously.
Configuring the CK3000 to
work with your Phone(s)
This is tremendously simple.
Unlike many headsets, there is no need to do anything special to
the CK3000 itself to switch it into pairing mode.
Simply use your phone to
find the new Bluetooth device and pair with it through the
phone, using the password 1234. You'll have instructions on how to do this with
your phone; in addition, there are careful step by step
instructions included with the unit for most Bluetooth capable
Using the CK3000
Get into your car, with your
cell phone somewhere in the car as well. The phone and
CK3000 automatically link up. You'll hear a short
confirming beep from your speakers after the devices have
synchronized. Any incoming calls will
now ring through the CK3000 unit and your car's speakers, without you needing to make
any changes to the phone at all.
To place a call, you can
either use the last number redial or the voice activated dialing
features of the CK3000, or you can use your phone's keypad to
dial the number and then speak to the other person through the
When you get out of your
car, your phone automatically switches back to normal operation,
until such time as you return to your car.
My favorite feature is that
when you are using your phone, this unit automatically mutes
your sound system. And as soon as you've finished using
the phone, the sound system switches back on again.
There's nothing to remember.
Nothing to adjust or program. You act totally
normally, leaving everything to your phone and the CK3000
unit to do automatically on your behalf.
This is surely the ultimate
in phone convenience.
Of course the person you're
speaking with will notice you're using some type of speaker
phone, but in general, sound quality is very good, and the
unit has digital signal processing that results in background
noise reduction, making it practical to have a
conversation while driving in a noisy environment.
The CK3000 has no volume
control and instead accepts commands from the volume control on
The unit supports full
duplex conversation - both you and the other person can be
talking simultaneously, and has very little echo.
Other Comments and
It cost me another $200 to
have the CK3000 professionally installed into my 1995 Jaguar XJS.
The unit comes with standard wiring harnesses to speed up and
simplify the installation into newer less exotic cars, and so
the chances are your installation cost will be less than mine.
There are two illuminated
buttons on the control unit. One, with a green handset printed on
it, is your 'answer/place call/yes' button, and the other, with
a red handset printed on it, is your 'hang up' button.
This is easy to understand and remember, and sufficiently
intuitively simple that you don't need to refresh your memory
with the product manual if it is a while since you last used the
The CK3000 does not have an
on/off switch, but is instead hard-wired into the ignition.
When you turn your ignition on, the CK3000 comes on, and when
you turn it, it also turns off. This is fine, but I chose
to add a separate on/off switch to my unit, so I can manually
turn it off if for some reason I don't want it to be on.
The cost of adding the manual on/off switch is minimal, and the
extra flexibility seemed to be well worth this minor addition.
You might want to consider doing the same thing.
The unit does not need your
radio/stereo system to be turned on to work. I loved the
way it automatically muted the sound system whenever there was a
call in progress, although I was not quite so pleased that any
time you even touched the phone's keypad - eg, just to look up a
number, it would immediately mute the sound system. I'd
prefer it to only mute the sound system when actual calls were
The manufacturer - Parrot in
France - has a helpful
website with copies of manuals and other
There is no mute function,
although this could be achieved by transferring the call back to
your phone and muting it there.
The unit supports call
'flashing' - eg, to answer a call waiting call, by simply
briefly pressing the green button.
If you live in a state or
country where it is illegal to hold your phone and have a
conversation with it while driving, you should consider one of
these as the best way to legally use your phone hands-free.
And even if you live in a
region where it remains legal to use your phone while driving,
increasingly, lawsuits are being filed against drivers who have
accidents while on the phone, asserting that the drivers were
prima facie inattentive.
A hands free kit, such as
this, might save your life, or, less dramatically, might save
you from a major lawsuit.
If you're spending $200 on
one of these units, and probably that much again to have a
professional installer fit the CK3000 into your car, you want to
be sure your investment is protected for an extended time.
Bluetooth capabilities are
rapidly evolving, and today's equipment will likely not be able
to handle new features in future Bluetooth gear.
Parrot have already thought
of this. The unit can have its firmware (operating system)
flashed with a newer version, as and when any future
enhancements might be released, or in the event that new phones
come out in the future that offer extra features that the CK3000
could take advantage of.
This is a wonderful
convenience and gives you the confidence you'll need to invest
in this unit.
High end cars are now
starting to offer Bluetooth kits as options, and for sure, over
the next few years, this capability will become more common and
will move down into mid level cars as well.
It is possible that having a
high quality built-in Bluetooth hands-free kit in your car might
add to its resale value, and certainly will add to its
Cost and Where to Buy
The unit has a recommended
retail price of $229, but can be found for less on some
Pro Travel Gear - the
manufacturers of the Plane Quiet
headphones, sell the unit for $199 on their website, and offer
Travel Insider readers a 5% discount if you quote the
discount code travelinsider when completing your purchase.
See also our review of
Parrot's DriveBlue plug-in car hands-free kit
and the new Easydrive
Bluetooth hands-free kit that has now replaced the DriveBlue.
The CK3000 has several
advantages compared to the DriveBlue. It gives better
sound quality to you, and probably to the person you are
speaking with as well. The sound quality difference is not
so noticeable with the Easydrive.
Because it is hard wired in
to your car, there is nothing to 'go wrong' or to be forgotten.
It is also unobtrusive - all a person sees is the very small
little control unit, which measures only 1½" x 1" x ½", and so
is not likely to attract the attention of any car thieves.
It automatically mutes your
car's sound system for calls.
On the other hand, the
DriveBlue and Easydrive are portable, enabling you to use them in more than one
vehicle. They are also cheaper to purchase, and have no
installation cost associated with them.
This unit is very easy to
operate, and provides an excellent convenience for people
wishing to use their phone while in the car. Sound quality
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30 April 2004, last update
28 Nov 2012
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.