Cobra Bluetooth cell mic, & Panbo gets audio


It’s a bit telling that just before Cobra’s MR F300 Bluetooth cell mic won a DAME Design Award, I’d read some critical, if uninformed, posts about it on The Hull Truth. I think Europeans are way ahead of us when it comes to cellular. And I think the Cobra BT mic, which I’ve been testing for a while, is worthy of recognition. The photo above suggests how smartly counter-intuitive it is; while it’s wireless to your phone, it’s very much wired to your boat, with a hunky curly cable, a bulkhead plug, and break-out wires (out of shot) that connect to 12v power, USB for updates, and line-out for amplifying calls. No batteries to worry about, and your cell can be tucked away and charging somewhere within Class 2 Bluetooth range (about 30’). A closer look at the handset, bigger here, shows a plethora of command buttons never seen on a Bluetooth headset and a screen whose fonts are small but readable.

In fact, I’ve tried two phones with the Cobra so far, and could use either pretty well without touching their keyboards or seeing their screens. The Cobra doesn’t bring over a phone’s call log or address book, but it is fairly easy to build new ones on the handset and use them. The really noteworthy feature of the MR F300, though, is the noise cancelling, and I think I came up with a clever (if not brilliant 😉 way to test that, and share the results. I placed a series of calls to the Grand Central voice mail I still have, which enables me to save the messages as MP3 files or just post them like this sample below {though the widget isn’t working for me}.

I also found a realistic boat engine track on the Web, loaded it into my iPod Touch, and played it through the Fusion Marine Stereo, badass bass amp and subwoofer included, thus simulating real world boat conditions in a controlled manner. I’m pretty amazed by how well the Cobra cancelled out that noise even when it was so loud you’d be shouting at a mate standing next to you. But, actually, even my wife’s Motorola Razr did a fair job of cancelling out the engine noise. (I used her phone as the Verizon service on my Centro is very poor here, as witnessed by that sad half-a-bar next to “VOX” on the screen below). At any rate, if you want the whole enchilada, here’s a 900kb zip file containing five MP3 tracks documenting the plain phone and then the mic in VOX and PTT modes with and without engine noise, and finally a bit of the engine track itself. Turn the latter way up with good speakers for full effect. No Bluetooth head or handset sounds quite as good as a phone itself, in my experience, but I think you’ll agree that the Cobra does a sterling job of cutting out engine noise.


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

3 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Did anyone listen to those MP3 test files? Too complicated? Not interested?
    Sorry I haven’t yet posted again but am traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. Wishing U.S. Panbots a good one.
    I may post later, but maybe not 😉

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cobra made a pretty funny ad for the MR F300:

  3. Chris Ellingsen says:

    A friend of mine installed one of these on his boat this summer. He recently found a new use for it:
    During our Labour Day week, I had several dropped calls from the office while motoring. Put the cell phone back in its holster, clipped holster to flag halyard, hoisted up to spreader level. Used Bluetooth mic to answer the call from the elevated phone.
    No external antenna jack on the phone – who cares?

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