We've grown to be pretty big fans of BlueAnt headsets over the past year, especially with the BlueAnt Z9 and the BlueAnt Z9i. Both Bluetooth headsets impressed us with excellent sound quality, while the Z9i improved upon the original with extra features like better audio and the addition of multipoint technology. However, just when we thought we've seen the best from BlueAnt, it surprised us with what is possibly one of the best Bluetooth headsets yet. The BlueAnt V1 is what BlueAnt is calling the world's first voice-controlled Bluetooth headset. It combines the excellent sound quality of the Z9i with an incredibly intuitive "voice user interface" that is a snap to use. Not only that, but we also think a voice-controlled headset like this is especially useful in areas with hands-free calling laws, since you can make and answer calls with just your voice. We definitely highly recommend the BlueAnt V1. The V1 is available for $129.99 retail, but you can get it for about $100 if you shop around online.
If you've seen the BlueAnt Z9 or the BlueAnt Z9i, then you'll know exactly what the V1 looks like. Indeed, the V1 looks identical to those two headsets; except that the V1 has a pinstripe exterior while both Z9 headsets are black. Measuring 1.61 inches by 0.68 inch by 0.44 inch, the V1 is small and lightweight, but since it looks so similar to the other two, we can't say it has a very innovative design. Like the Z9, the V1 has the multifunction button on the front toward the top, while the two volume buttons are on the right. All buttons are easy enough to find and press.
Turn the V1 over and you'll find an earpiece along with a flexible metal ear hook. The earpiece is a little different from the Z9; it comes with rubbery ear gels that dip a little deeper in the ear canal. We actually like this because the fit feels more secure and the audio quality is improved, but we can see how this might feel uncomfortable for some people. If you want, the BlueAnt V1 also comes with two foam tips instead. As for the ear hook, we did find it necessary and not optional, since it doesn't feel as secure without it. The V1 comes with a translucent plastic ear hook as well, if you don't like the metal one. We found both ear hooks to be pretty comfortable to use. Also on the back of the V1 is a tiny clip that can be clipped on to a tie or a shirt.
We paired the BlueAnt V1 with the Apple iPhone 3G, and we didn't have to look up the user manual to find out how. Simply wear the V1 headset, turn it on, and it will automatically tell you a step-by-step tutorial on how to pair your phone. The process isn't too different from other Bluetooth headsets, but having a voice telling you what to do is really nice especially for those who are new to Bluetooth headsets. If you want to manually pair a phone, all you have to do is say "Pair Me." Note that you have to press the multifunction button once to activate the voice control mode.
Aside from that, there is no voice recognition tutorial--just start talking. With the voice control mode on, we found we didn't need the user manual at all. If you want help, you can say "Teach Me" and it'll guide you through the different voice commands. If you forget the commands, you can say "What can I say?" and it'll go through the commands again with you. You can say "Answer" to answer a call, and you can say "Ignore" to reject a call. Other voice commands include "Redial" for last number redial, "Check Battery" for the battery status, and of course you can say "Call" followed by Home, Office, Voice mail, speed dial numbers, or any other number. You can even say "Call Back" to call the number of the last incoming call. One of our favorite commands is "Call GOOG-411," which automatically connects you to Google's free 411 service.
Audio quality was pretty incredible, and we think it's on par with the Jawbone 2. The voice isolation technology really helps to isolate our voice so that callers can hear us really clearly, and the echo-cancellation means we can hear our callers' just fine as well. Like with the Z9i, the V1's voice-isolation sensor has two modes--Standard and Max. Standard is for everyday situations, keeping the regular noise suppression but also maintaining the sound of the natural voice. Max is for extremely noisy situations where natural voice isn't as important as increased noise reduction. We tested both situations: one in a car, while the other was in a busy food court. Indeed, the Max mode resulted in a more robotic sounding voice, but callers could still hear us just fine.
Aside from the features mentioned, the V1 also supports call mute, call waiting, and the capability to transfer calls from the headset to the phone and vice versa.
The BlueAnt V1 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 8.3 days standby time. It also comes with a USB charging adapter as well as an AC adapter.