Co-Pilot

Ever wish you had more than two hands? Like when you're driving and want to make a cell phone call? The Co-Pilot claims to be a hands-free adapter that magnifies your cell phone through your car speakers.

John Banken bought the Co-Pilot for his wife, who uses a cell phone frequently. The Co-Pilot is a hands-free adapter that plugs into your cigarette lighter. Simply place a funnel over the ear piece, then tune your radio to 96.1. The person you're talking to is relayed through your car speakers.

John is parked in the driveway, and calls his wife inside the house. "Can you hear me in there?" John asks loudly. "I can barely hear you." This is an area they know gets good cell phone reception. "Well, I can barely hear you when you're talking from there," says his wife, LaVeda.

Makers of the Co-Pilot say you're supposed to be able to drive safely while talking normally on the phone. But this Dexter couple quickly discovers the ups and downs of their Co-Pilot. "Can you tell if there's a difference with me talking like this, or holding the phone?" John asks. "Get closer to the phone and I'll tell you," LaVeda responds. "Okay, I'm down now," he says. "Can you hear me better?" "Yes, better," answered LaVeda. "But I'm below the dash!" John says in frustration. "I couldn't be driving like this!"

Actually, Amy isn't too impressed with the quality of the sound being transferred through the car speakers, either. It's very fuzzy.

And another bit of turbulence the Co-Pilot runs into, is the gear shift in some cars. The adapter isn't flexible enough to shift around. We we switch to John's truck. There's no problem installing the co-pilot here. And it sits a little higher on the dash, so maybe it'll pick-up his voice better. He tries the conversation without raising his voice.

"This would be in a normal voice," he says into the phone. "Can you hear that?" LaVeda doesn't answer.

Back inside, Amy takes the phone, just to hear how bad it really is. "I can barely hear you, it's so full of echoes," says Amy. "You know what I'd tell you? Pull over and use the phone like normal!"

LaVeda actually tried the Co-Pilot while on the road. "When I answered everyone said, "Hello? Hello? Hello?" and I'd say, "I'm here!"

The Banken's plan to fly the Co-Pilot back to its makers, and hope nobody else wastes $30. "They can't hear your voice because you're too far from the phone," LaVeda summarizes. "It's like holding your phone on the other side of the car, and trying to talk to someone."

John's cell phone is a flip-phone. But we tried it with a regular phone, too, with the same results. And the Co-Pilot claims to work on any phone, in any car. The Co-Pilot works -- barely. We're generous, and give it a 'D.'