If you don't want to invest in a Bluetooth device, then the Jupiter Jack sounds like a great idea. According to the website and TV commercials, all you have to do is plug the Jupiter Jack into the headphone port of your cell phone, turn your car radio on to 99.3 FM or 101.3 FM and enjoy a clear conversation, with no distractions to your driving. In the infomercial the call is heard as clear as a bell, with no static or muffled sound, thanks to the fact that the Jupiter Jack utilizes the FM signal to pick up the call.
However, according to a whopping 70 percent of the 30-plus web pages of user reviews on Does-the-Product-Work.com, the Jupiter Jack is a waste of money, even at 10 bucks a pop. Posters say that it either doesn't work at all or that it fades in and out, isn't loud enough or merely produces static.
The problem, many of them say, is in the technology; the Jupiter Jack doesn't have its own microphone, but relies on your mobile phone mike and picks up the calls through your car's FM signal. Since FM radio signals can vary from mile to mile, the Jupiter Jack's reception will go in and out, which can be annoying and even distracting for many drivers.
We found a handful of well-done hands-on tests. On Honest-Infomercial-Reviews.com, editor Theresa Kruger posts a TV news report made by Greensboro, N.C., consumer reporter Melissa Painter, who takes a local construction contractor out for a road test of the Jupiter Jack. Throughout the ride he makes several phone calls that result in -- as he puts it -- static with a little bit of voice mixed in. Turning up the volume and even moving the cell phone to different areas of the dashboard doesn't help reception at all.
StarReviews.com gives the Jupiter Jack a good review after demonstrating an in-car test where you can hear the call recipient clearly. However, the test is conducted in a parked car and the vehicle never moves, so the product is never actually tested on the road. On the other hand, all other hands-on tests we encountered as well as the overwhelming majority of Amazon.com users give the Jupiter Jack bad reviews, saying that phone reception is poor or nonexistent.
In a two-for-one deal on the product website, you can get two Jupiter Jacks for $10, but you have to pay a shipping and handling charge of $6.99 for each Jupiter Jack. Several adapters are included to accommodate different types of phones -- although a few reviewers say that none of the adapters fit their phones properly. It's worth noting that, when this product first hit the market a few years ago, Bluetooth wireless cell-phone systems cost considerably more than they do now, so many Jupiter Jacks were probably sold on the strength of its cheap price tag. You might want to check out our report on Bluetooth headsets, which start at about $30.
This site features a road test of the Jupiter Jack, conducted by WGHP reporter Melissa Painter and a local construction contractor. Their verdict is that the Jupiter Jack mainly produces static, with just a little bit of voice mixed in.
Review: Jupiter Jack Put Through a Real Life Test, Theresa Kruger, April 12, 2010
According to more than 30 web pages of reviews on this site, the Jupiter Jack doesn't work. When it does it fades in and out, doesn't have enough volume to be heard or merely produces static. Save your money, these user reviews say.
Review: Does Jupiter Jack Really Work?, Contributors to Does-the-Product-Work.com
Out of about 50 product reviews, the overwhelming majority say that Jupiter Jack either doesn't work well enough or else doesn't work at all. Several also mention that the adapters don't fit all types of cell phones. Even at the Jupiter Jack's cheap price, posters say, don't waste your money.
Review: Jupiter Jack, Contributors to Amazon.com
4. KFVS (Cape Girardeau, Mo.)
The reporter and her tester, Bonnie Potts, work together to test the Jupiter Jack. At first it doesn't work on the radio dial because 99.3 FM is a popular local radio station. The second station option, 101.3 FM, does work… for a while. Mostly the product produces static, delay and feedback.
Review: Jupiter Jack: Does it Work?, Lauren Keith, Oct. 7, 2009
Skeptical about testing the Jupiter Jack since it retails for only $10, the tester doesn't have much success with the product: he gets static and struggles to get a radio signal. However, he does say that results may vary depending on where you live; if you are in a location without a lot of radio stations, you may have better luck.
Review: Review: Jupiter Jack Hands Free Device, Joel Evans, Dec. 17, 2009
This video review tests the Jupiter Jack and gives the product a rating of 6 stars out of 6. The tester makes and receives a phone call using the Jupiter Jack, and is pleased with the sound quality. However, the test is flawed since the call is made in a parked car -- hardly simulating real-world use.
Review: Jupiter Jack Video Review, Editors of StarReviews.com, Aug. 22, 2009