BlueAnt introduced us to voice-controlled Bluetooth headsets with the BlueAnt V1 in 2008 and then again with its BlueAnt Q1 last year. This year, BlueAnt introduces the BlueAnt T1 that promises to be the company's best headset yet. Not only does it offer the voice controls of its predecessors, but it also features superior wind noise cancellation, the capability to announce caller names, A2DP streaming, and it enters the realm of the rugged headset with specially designed silicon covers that increase its durability to dust and moisture. The BlueAnt T1 is available for $79.99.
The BlueAnt T1 looks very different when compared with its predecessor, the Q1. Measuring 1.97 inches long by 0.9 inch wide by 0.6 inch thick, the T1 is wider, thicker, and bulkier overall. It's clear that BlueAnt wanted to make the T1 a much sturdier and durable headset. Still, the T1 maintains that sleek minimalist appeal we liked about the Q1, and has clean lines all around.
On the front of the headset is the multifunction call button at the top, followed by a skinny wind guard shield down the middle. Two large volume buttons sit on the right side while a power toggle sits on the back underneath the earpiece. We like this dedicated power toggle as it makes it that much easier to turn the headset on and off.
The earpiece is similar to previous BlueAnt headsets--it's clad in a tapered silicone ear bud with an attached loop that lets the headset fit securely in the ear without an ear hook. You can then twist the ear bud left or right to fit in either the left or right ear. We found the fit to be very snug and comfortable. It does take a bit of fiddling to ensure the microphone is pointing toward the mouth, but once you get it in, it feels great. If you would rather have a more traditional setup, the T1 also comes with loop-less ear buds and two optional ear hooks. BlueAnt wisely included several different sizes of ear buds for a better fit in the ear.
As a bonus, with the T1, BluAnt includes two different silicone covers to fit over the headset like a glove. This turns the already sturdy T1 into a ruggedized headset. According to BlueAnt, this will prevent the headset from dust and moisture damage in addition to everyday nicks and bumps.
We paired the BlueAnt T1 with the Apple iPhone 3G and the Pantech Pursuit. BlueAnt is very good at guiding you through the pairing and connecting the headset to your phone just by using voice prompts. When you first turn it on, it automatically goes into pairing mode and guides you through the process. Like the Q1, the T1 has multipoint, so we were able to connect to both these phones at the same time. That said, the T1 is not completely hands-free, as you have to press the button to utter a voice command.
As with the previous BlueAnt headsets, the voice control interface is fantastic. You can just say "Phone commands" to activate the voice command feature on your phone, "Answer" to answer calls, "Ignore" to reject it, "Redial" for last number redial and so forth. If you ever get lost, you can say "What can I say?" or "Teach me" for a few tips. We especially like "Check Battery" for battery status and "Call Information" for a 411 call. We experienced very little problems in the headset recognizing our voice--it interpreted our commands perfectly without any mistakes. Note that you need the voice command capability on your phone for the "Phone commands" feature to work--for example, we weren't able to test this with the iPhone 3G, but were able to use it with the Pantech Pursuit.
One feature that's new to the T1 is that it is now able to download up to 2,000 phonebook contacts, so whenever you get an incoming call from someone you know, it will announce the caller's name. We applaud this feature, but we found that it could stand a bit of tweaking. For example, when we called ourselves, the headset announced "Call from Lee, Nicole" instead of the more common first name, last name protocol. Obviously, this depends on how the headset interprets the names listed on your phone, so your results may vary. Also, we found that the announcement of the caller name was a little softer and quicker than we would like.
We were very pleased with the headsets call quality. The BlueAnt T1 combines the aforementioned physical wind noise guard along with its Wind Armour Technology software that promises to deliver good audio quality even in wind speeds of up to 22 mph. Indeed, when we made a call while sitting in front of a noisy desktop fan, we were surprised that our callers could still hear us quite clearly. They did report hearing some background sound, but it was relatively faint and muffled compared with the sound of our voice.
We also tested the call quality in the real world--in a moving vehicle, and in an outdoor cafe. In both situations, the headset did its job. The BlueAnt T1 has dual microphones and a Voice Isolation Technology, which we thought worked well. We heard our callers with just a little bit of static, while they could hear us very clearly as well. We thought our callers sounded very natural, almost as if they were next to us. Callers, however, did say that our voice sounded rather harsh at times, and as we said, it doesn't block out background sound completely.
Other features of the phone include A2DP streaming so you're able to listen to music, podcasts, and turn-by-turn directions from your phone. It is also able to perform last number redial, and automatic connection and reconnection with your phone. It comes with a USB cable so you're free to upgrade the firmware as well.
The BlueAnt T1 has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time and 5 days standby time, which is longer than the Q1's battery life.