BlueAnt Q1Bluetooth Headset

The Q1 from BlueAnt Wireless comes with an incredibly useful voice-control helper, which is unique to the Q1 and to its cousin, the . The US$130 (as of 5/6/09) Q1 is an addition to the BlueAnt product family; it does not replace the V1.

With a typical Bluetooth headset, you can take advantage of some voice controls, as most cell phones support voice dialing. When your phone is connected to a Bluetooth headset, you can say, for example, "Call voicemail" or "Call Jim mobile." The call then initiates, and you don't have to touch your phone's keypad. Such commands originate in your phone, and you hear them through your headset. In contrast, the Q1 houses its own dedicated voice-command system, bypassing your phone's voice prompts. The voice-controlled interface feels a bit like having my own Jeeves to handle calls--and I like it.

The Q1's voice walked me through the pairing process to connect the headset to my phone via Bluetooth. After that, whenever I pressed the BlueAnt button (that is, the main control button), a male voice popped up, intoning, "Say a command." I could choose from a predetermined list of commands, including "Redial," "Call back," "Check battery," and "Switch headset off." Overall, the Q1's speech recognition works well--it doesn't involve any training. And if you're not sure of your next move, asking "What can I say" cycles you through the range of available commands.

One unique and major plus is the Q1's ability to let you pick up or reject an incoming call using your voice. If you're driving, you don't have to lift your hand off the wheel to tap a button to grab a call. As my phone rang or vibrated, the Q1 notified me: "Call from 415 555 4141. Answer or ignore" I said "Answer" aloud, and it connected the call.

However, like the V1, the Q1 restricts you to its collection of commands. I missed being able to say, for instance, "Call Mariana home." To get around that limitation, you can save up to eight numbers as speed-dial options (though your phone needs to support it). Alternatively, you can revert to your phone's voice commands. (You do so by pressing the control button and saying "Phone commands.")

During my tests, call quality was inconsistent, and not comparable to handset quality. On my end, incoming voices sounded fine, but not amazing. On the other end, calls sometimes sounded very clear, without any intrusive interference, but more often calls sounded mediocre or subpar. My voice often sounded hollow, muffled, or slightly robotic to the other party; a couple of call recipients complained about choppiness, portions of words dropping off, static, and reverb.

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