BlueAnt provides one of the first voice controlled Bluetooth headsets. (August 2nd, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: BlueAnt
- Voice control truly works.
- Easy to pair up.
- Speed dialing in its own memory.
- Good voice quality; effective noise cancellation.
- Low volume on startup.
- Side buttons can be confusing.
- Expensive compared to some headsets.
- No bundled carrying case.
The Q1’s signature feature is, of course, its ability to recognize voice commands instead of depending on button press. These allow a number of functions by just pushing the logo/function button and speaking various commands, such as checking the battery or connection, making an immediate call back, and dialing both regularly as well as in speed dial. These are simple and more often much easier than either on-headset buttons or else the phone itself to complete the remainder of the call.
With the Palm Pre, we did have difficulty making the Q1 complete speed dial commands; that’s because the phone does not offer such functionality on its own. However, the BlueAnt Q1 has the ability to assign incoming numbers their own speed dial function through the earpiece memory itself, at least mitigating the need to use a particular handset.
The Q1 offers excellent voice quality… after the initiation of a call. When pushing the logo/function button to start a voice command, the volume through the earpiece is rather low, but once the call is connected it restores to normal levels. The same occurs with the call announce function, where the Q1 speaks the number of the incoming call. We are still investigating ways to improve these levels. There exists a firmware update from the company website that addresses certain issues but we are uncertain if they apply to volume because it is currently available as an EXE format at this point, ruling out most Mac users.
The noise canceling function worked as advertised, which we tested by calling people in our network. The two-stage DSP signal processor comes with normal and high settings, which work to cancel ambient noise, echo cancellation, and wind noise protection. Getting to the more aggressive cancelation is easy and just involves pressing the BlueAnt function button.
All told, the Q1 is mostly a resounding success. It's not often that companies will try an ambitious feature like extensive voice control and have it work, but here it does. More importantly, BlueAnt didn't feel compelled to use an exotic design and recognized that users want to keep their headsets in for long periods of time.
If anything is an obstacle, it's likely to be the price: at $129, it collides directly with the Aliph Jawbone Prime and Plantronics' Voyager Pro and is significantly above the price of some competitors. We'd say the Q1 is worth at least a serious look if not a definitive pick, as it has both the voice control that the others don't as well as a smaller, more discreet design that the Voyager Pro lacks.