Review: BlueAnt V1 Voice Controlled Headset | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: BlueAnt V1 Voice Controlled Headset 15

by Derek Kessler Wed, 26 Aug 2009 11:23 am EDT

BlueAnt V1 Bluetooth Headset

On top of being a solid Bluetooth headset, the BlueAnt V1 adds voice control to the mix. There are plenty of handsets with voice control, and there are thousands of bluetooth headsets to connect to those phones. But a bluetooth headset with voice control? There aren’t many of those. And so I find myself with the BlueAnt V1 hooked to my ear, one of those few voice control headsets.

So how does it work? Quite nicely. Not only does the voice control feature work well, the headset actually talks to you instead of replying with cryptic beeps and boops. Overall, despite its less-than-graceful aesthetics, the BlueAnt V1 is a quality bluetooth headset.

Voice Quality

Obviously the most important feature of any bluetooth headset is “how does it sound?” If the audio quality is anything less than marginally less than that of the phone you’re pairing it to, then you might as well get a new headset. Thankfully, the V1 comes complete with good sound quality for both ends of the conversation. You get treated with a slightly muffled but still clear voice from the person on the other end of the line, and they’ll get voice quality that matches or exceeds that of the Pre’s own built-in microphone. This is because the V1 has two microphones to pick up your voice and advanced voice isolation software that cuts out the noise and only lets through your voice.

I tested this in a car on a concrete road (you know they aren’t quiet) and the recipient only noticed the road noise after I mentioned I was driving, even then it was barely audible.

Controls

BlueAnt V1 Bluetooth Headset

The title feature of the BlueAnt V1 is voice control. It works, and works well. Not only can you give the headset commands ("call voicemail"), but you can also ask it questions and get responses. Unfortunately, the commands to make calls are limited to you dial pad-linked speed dial contacts. 1 is permanently linked to voicemail. While you can program 2 and 3 on the phone to whatever number you like, the V1 will only respond to "Call Home" and "Call Office," respectively. 4 and 6-9 are all user-customizable ("Call Favorite," and "Call Speed Dial #"), while 5 is linked to GOOG-411.  While it would be nice to have full contacts search capabilities (e.g. "Call Nancy Matkins"), that would require  better Bluetooth support from the Pre.

That said, the voice controls are surprisingly robust. If you get a call, you can simply say “Answer,” to pick up, or order “Ignore,” to send it to voicemail. The V1 even gives voice responses to button action, clearly confirming that it has ended the call (call terminated), raised the volume (volume up). If you’re not sure if there’s a voice command, you can ask, “What can I say?” for options or, “Teach me,” to bring up the interactive on-device manual.

Not everything can be controlled with your voice - or should be. There are some situations where you may not be able to, or want to, call out “Answer” loudly enough for the headset to take the call. The control button is large and sufficiently tactile, through it blinks too brightly (a common problem with many headsets). The rubber volume buttons are located on the top of the unit if you wear it on your right ear (bottom if on the left) and each takes up a whole half of that side, making them very easy to fiddle with even during a call.

BlueAnt V1 Bluetooth Headset

Comfort

The BlueAnt V1 makes up for its awkward styling with a highly customizable fit. Not only does it come with two interchangeable rubber ear inserts, it also has two foam inserts and a clear plastic replacement ear loop. Both ear loops have a long stem that can be adjusted for about an inch of fit customization. With all these options, it will be difficult to find a combination that won’t be comfort to your ears.

BlueAnt V1 Bluetooth Headset

Style

The V1 scores plenty of points for voice control, call quality, and comfort. But it loses some for its lackluster physical design. The shiny striped plastic shell and chromed ear loop (or clear, if you so desire) are both notably tacky and call attention to the small, but blocky, headset. As noted earlier, the indicator light blinks far too brightly, and the BlueAnt logo it blinks through (a blue ant, as you may have guessed) is less than inconspicuous. The headset also has a pen-like metal clip to attach it to your pocket or tie if you want a particularly obvious mounting point.

BlueAnt V1 Bluetooth Headset

In the Box

The V1 charges off a proprietary tiny version of USB, and so comes with a six-inch USB charging cable (which can also be used for a possible future firmware update), a mini-USB adapter, AC-to-USB adapter, 12 volt auto-to-USB adapter, instruction pamphlets, a clear plastic replacement ear loop, a replacement rubber ear insert, and two foam ear inserts. Oh, and the headset.

BlueAnt V1 Bluetooth Headset

Conclusion

The BlueAnt V1 Voice Controlled Headset is a high-quality feature rich bluetooth headset. Its unique voice control software works surprisingly well and the headset’s voice quality for both caller and recipient is quite good. Despite all of these positives, the BlueAnt V1 isn’t particularly attractive. But that’s the price of convenience.

The BlueAnt V1 Voice Controlled Headset is available in the PreCentral.net Store for $68.92, a savings of 47% off the list price of $129.95.

Pros

Excellent voice controls

Cons

Lackluster styling