I had not heard of BlueAnt Wireless until recently. Their Bluetooth car kits and headsets were receiving some attention – so I procured a couple of samples.
Are these products ‘standouts’ in a crowded field? Read on for my thoughts. BlueAnt is an Australian based company with offices around the globe. They are exclusively dedicated to manufacturing and selling quality Bluetooth Audio accessories. While it seems that just about everybody is jumping onto the BlueTooth bandwagon these days, very few companies are exclusively dedicated to Bluetooth technology. The dedication shows.
This review will cover both the Supertooth II Bluetooth Portable Handsfree and the X3 Micro Bluetooth Headset.
First up: Supertooth II
The Supertooth II Portable Handsfree is designed primarily for the car – but it could be used anywhere. It is a relatively compact unit that attaches magnetically (very securely, I might add) to a clip on the sun-visor. The full specifications from the BlueAnt website are as follows:
Supertooth II Product Specifications
Bluetooth Standard Bluetooth V1.1, Class II Frequency 2.4GHz Maximum communication distance Approx. 10m Operating Talk Time 20 hours Operating Standby Time 800 hours Charging Time About 3 hours Bluetooth Profiles supported Handsfree, Headset Battery Type Rechargeable Lithium Ion Speaker 50mm, High Power Neodyne type Microphone With built-in noise canceller Weight 133.3 g (without clip) Dimension lwh: 138x60x25 mm A Full-Duplex device
Compact size Compatible to all Bluetooth Mobile phones and PDA’s With a Smart Digital Signal Processor (DSP) for Noise Cancellation and Echo Suppression Supports Voice Dialing (if phone supports) Supports Redialing (for Handsfree profile only) Supports Multi-pairing to 2 Devices Single Pick-Up/Hang-Up Button With Call Reject Button
Adjustable Volume Control 0a, 55a;, 210a Swivel Arm orientations for easy access of the microphone even when the sun visor is up or down
The Supertooth II is a wonderfully designed unit. The two magnets attach securely to one of the two included sun-visor clips. Noteworthy on this model is the large speaker and the flip down microphone.
The beauty of this design is that flipping down the microphone turns on the device and answers the calls. If the Microphone is kept in the ‘down’ position, calls will automatically be answered when they come in. Your hands never have to leave the wheel – which is the idea behind ‘hands free’ design.
There is a very easy to use volume control knob – a design I much prefer to up and down arrows. LED’s show the Bluetooth connection and charge of the battery.
One extra detail is that the Supertooth II ships with a car charger and a home AC charger. In theory, you never need to take the Supertooth II out of your car to charge.
Ease of Use:
The Supertooth II could not be easier to use. Pairing is accomplished by holding the call reject button and the Pick up button simultaneously. Lights flash, phone finds Supertooth, pass code entered and there you have it.
One of the nicest features of the BlueAnt experience is their wonderful user guides. Within the user guides are not only directions for pairing and using, but specific directions for virtually every mobile phone/smartphone on the market.
I so appreciated the subtle differences in directions for getting this to work flawlessly on my Treo. No manual has ever been more complete and helpful. BlueAnt obviously realizes that Bluetooth is still an evolving science and that some companies do it a bit differently.
Once paired, using the Supertooth II was a joy. The Mike can swivel into a usable position whether the visor is down or up (a nice touch.) Calls came in perfectly. This is truly a ‘just set it up and use it’ kind of device.
This is the single most important issue in a Handsfree car kit. If people can’t hear or understand you – no matter how good the design – the car kit becomes useless. Well, BlueAnt has no worries in this department.
I routinely asked callers how I sounded. People said calls were clear and I sounded just like I was using the phone itself. Even with the windows down and the radio on, people were still able to hear me clearly.
Sound on my end was amazing. Calls were clear – no tinny sound, no reverberation – just crystal clear sound.
This is, hands down, the best HandsFree Carkit I have used. It was simple to use. The individual instructions for virtually every mobile phone were greatly appreciated. Calls were clear and the unit never failed. There was no re-pairing necessary (which happens often when I test these things.)
I was also impressed with the build quality and the very complete package which includes not only the requisite manuals, but also car and home chargers, two sized sun visor clips and an earbud.
Overall Grade: A
Pros: Great build quality, great size, easy to use, powerful, crystal clear calls.
Cons: None to speak of.
The BlueAnt Supertooth II is available at www.myblueant.com and various on line retailers for $129.99.
Next Up: BlueAnt X3 Micro Bluetooth Headset
After my great experience with the Supertooth II, and after reading some very impressive reviews on the Net, I was excited to try the x3 Micro headset.
The X3 Micro is not a revolutionary design by any stretch – and that’s not a bad thing. The first thing I noticed about this headset was the small size and excellent build quality. Clearly, BlueAnt does not skimp on design and build quality of their products.
The full specs from the BlueAnt web site are as follows:
The award winning X3 micro Bluetooth headset is one of the smallest and best performing headsets available in the world. Lightweight, stylish and comfortable, the X3 micro is the ultimate Bluetooth accessory for people on the move. The X3 micro can be paired to 3 different Bluetooth devices and comes with multiple charging options including USB, wall and in car chargers. The X3 micro is a high quality full duplex Bluetooth headset backed by a 2 year hardware warranty. Talk and Standby Time
7 hours of Talk Time 180 hours Standby Time
Multi-Connect Call Switching Technology Pair three different devices to the headset and connect to any when requested
Sleek Form Factor Tiny ergonomic design fits snuggly into ear 52 x 26 x 28mm Lightweight (less than one half ounce) and comfortable so you hardly notice you are wearing it The Multi-Function Button provides simple control of the headset LED lights can be switched off for night time driving
Bluetooth Technology Designed using the new Bluetooth v1.2 technology Supports Headset and Handsfree Profiles Works with a Bluetooth enabled computer for voice calls
Three Charging Options Plug into a PC / Mac’s USB Port Plug into the Car charger Plug into an AC Charger All these options are provided in the box
Sound Quality High Quality Full Duplex Headset
2 Year Hardware warranty
The X3 is a typical in ear/over the ear kind of design. The included ear piece sits in the ear canal. It was a little big for my ears – but not a real problem. BlueAnt included two over the ear loops to help adjust the fit to different ear sized users.
I very much appreciated the buttons on the X3 Micro. A simple on/off button in the middle with a volume up/call answer/voice activation button marked with a + sign on one side and a call reject/hang up button with a – sign on the other side.
The headset has a nice laquered look with the BlueAnt logo on the front and a cool array of blinking blue lights.
One very nice part of the BlueAnt design is the well done manual and the included options for charging, The X3 Micro ships with a home adapter and a car adapter which both accept a thick USB cable which attaches to the headset. The user can then decide whether to charge in the car, at home or through the computer – a nice touch.
Ease of Use:
Pairing was a breeze – just hold down the volume up button for a few seconds and alternating red and blue lights tell you that it is ready to be paired. Find the headset from the Bluetooth menu of your phone – put in the passcode and you are ready to go.
Once paired – the X3 Micro was a joy to use. Calls went immediately to my headset on both the Treo and the ‘Q.’ Since the Q supports voice dialing, just press the volume up botton once and voice command is activated. I found this not only usefull for making calls – but I could be lazy and just wear the headest and tell the Q to ‘Open Calculator,’ or ‘Find X’ and so on.
Adjusting the volume, muting the headset, transferring the call to the phone, re-dialing and other features are accomplished with simple button pushes.
One nice feature is that the X3 Micro can be paired with three Mobile Phones. If you push the Main center button once – you connect to phone #1, twice for phone #2 and so on – another nice feature. One very nice safety feature is that you can turn off the flashing blue LED’s for night-time driving. If you want to look ‘cool’ in the supermarket, you can easily enable the Bluetooth ‘flashing’ once again. My only issue was that the included ear loop was not terribly comfortable and the X3 Micro was a little big for my ears.
This is the make or brake issue. It was here that I had my only qualms about the BlueAnt X3 Micro. When paired with my Treo, callers often told me I sounded like I was in a tunnel. On my end, there was noticeable crackling when I moved 10 feet away or more.
With my Q – calls were crystal clear. Callers told me that I sounded like I was talking on the phone itself. Conclusion – Bluetooth on the Treo stinks – we have noted that before.
On my end call quality was loud an clear on the Q and not so much so on the Treo.
This is a very well designed and well made headset. Only some minor comfort related issues keep it from getting a near perfect score. On a good phone, call quality is clear and loud. DSP would probably help with some background noise – but it would certainly add to the very reasonable price.
Final Grade: A-
Pros: Great size and build quality, easy to use, clear calls on some phones
Cons: Doesn’t work well with the Treo, a little uncomfortable
One more feature of note for BlueAnt Wireless is their web site. It is one of the most professional and user friendly websites for any Wireless company I have seen. There are wonderful ‘Product Simulators’ on their web site which you can see here: http://www.myblueant.com/product_simulators.htm