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Located in Australia, BlueAnt have built up a positive reputation for making premium quality Bluetooth headsets.

Based on our experience with their Q1, this reputation is well deserved.

 
 
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BlueAnt Q1 Bluetooth Headset review

Excellent sound quality,  excellent feature set, good price
 

The BlueAnt Q1 is a stylish and unobtrusive headset that is easy to mount on/in your ear and which works very well.

Part of our series on Bluetooth - more articles listed on the right.

 

 

The BlueAnt Q1 does all the normal things that you would hope a Bluetooth headset will do, and it does them all very well.  In particular, sound quality is excellent -- this is such a vital and essential part of any Bluetooth headset's functionality, and it is also the part that so many Bluetooth headsets fail at miserably.

In addition, its voice command functions go a long way to making the unit easier to understand and use.

All in all, this is an excellent headset, and fairly priced (street price of about $60) with no downside.  Recommended.

What you Get

The BlueAnt Q1 comes in a nice plastic box, clear in the top half, and with the headset itself seemingly suspended in mid-air.  It is premium packaging and clearly intended to convey the concept of this being a premium product.

Inside is the headset itself, two different rubber gel 'gaskets' for mounting the device in your ear, and an optional ear loop to provide a 'belt and braces' approach to holding the device securely on your ear, should you feel the need for it.

A small lightweight power charger brick and a connecting cable (which can also connect to any USB power supply, and to your computer to download new versions of software for the headset), a sheet of instructions and a warranty sheet complete the inclusions.

The unit can be found for prices ranging from about $55 up to about $60 on Amazon and is readily available elsewhere, on line and in stores.

Feature Chart

Use this information to quickly understand the capabilities of the unit and to compare with other units.
 

Feature                         Comment

Cost

List price was originally $129 and is now $99 with free shipping on the manufacturer's website

Available on Amazon for about $60, sometimes less.


Ergonomics

Easy to put on and take off

Yes, particularly if used without the optional ear hook.

Easy to use the control buttons

The unit has one main multi-purpose button, plus two other buttons that are primarily for volume control but which can sometimes do other things too.

In addition to these buttons and their inscrutable functions, the headset also responds to voice commands.  That is the good news - the unavoidable flip side to that being, of course, the need to learn the voice commands to use - a need that is somewhat resolved by having interactive help commands 'Teach Me' and 'What Can I Say' to refresh your memory of what you can do and how to do it.

Comfortable to wear

Yes, its light weight makes it unobtrusive, its short length means there is no great angular force applied to its ear mount, and the soft rubber ear mount makes it easy and soft to fit in your ear.

Can you use with glasses

Yes, especially without the hook (which happily I did not think was really needed).  The hook is thin and not too intrusive, so the Q1 is fine with glasses even with the hook.

Can use with either ear

Yes.

Securely mounted on ear

It felt secure by itself, but if you wish, you can add an optional provided hook to the unit that loops around the back of your ear, adding to the unit's secure mounting.

How to carry

This is another headset that has been designed with no thought as to how it can be carried when not on one's ear, and with a relatively fragile ear loop assembly.

Compatible with Nectar retractable and necklace style headset holders.

Weight

The unit weighs a mere 0.2 ounces - very light weight indeed.  Adding the optional (and to my mind, not really necessary) ear hook increases the weight to a still barely perceptible 0.3 oz.

Ease of Use

Commands intuitive and easy to remember

There is no such thing as intuitive and easy to remember commands unless you have multiple labeled buttons.

But the Q1 takes a positive approach, by accepting voice commands and offering voice prompts to guide you along the way.

This is probably as good a compromise as one could ever hope for.  The voice recognition function seems to work well, and the interactive prompting prevents you from making big mistakes.  The voice help files add further to the user friendliness of the device.

Volume adjustable

Yes.

The unit will cycle through nine different volume levels by repeated pushes of the Volume up and down buttons on the side of the unit.  It gives a high beep when you've reached maximum, and a low beep at minimum.

How fast does it turn on

It takes about three seconds to turn on and about another three seconds to synch with the phone.

Manual

The unit comes complete with a Quick Start Guide in English that tells most users most of what they're likely to need to know.

You can also download an excellent 37 page detailed manual from BlueAnt's support website.

Support

There are some FAQs on BlueAnt's website, plus a voice command reference guide and a comprehensive manual.

Emailed support requests promises a two business day response time.  There is also a phone number - 866 891-3032 - that offers support 6am - 6pm Pacific time, Mon - Fri.

Pairing password printed on device

No.

But like almost every other headset, it is 0000 so in an emergency you have a good chance of guessing what it is!


Features

Battery life

The unit claims 'up to' 4 hours of talk (what does 'up to' mean?) or 100 hrs of standby on one part of BlueAnt's website, and 5/120 hrs on another page.  The talk time is only moderately okay compared to other 'state of the art' units, the standby time is a bit less than other units.

However, I never (or very seldom) leave my unit switched on between calls, so the standby time isn't as important to me as the talk time.

Low battery indicator/signal

The unit will flash red when switched on if the battery is getting low.

You can also speak the command 'Check battery' and the headset will tell you the state of both its battery and the phone's battery (eg 'high', 'medium', etc).

Battery type

Lithium polymer.

Replaceable battery?

No.

As with other headsets, the chances are by the time the battery has died, you'll probably have bought a new headset.

Battery charging method/time

Yet another headset with a nonstandard socket.  Lose the connecting cable between the headset and the power supply and you're in trouble, at least until you buy a replacement connecting cable from BlueAnt ($8 plus shipping).

The only mitigating point here is that at least the other end of the charge cable ends in a standard USB connector, so you have the option of charging from a USB hub or computer.

A red light on the headset slowly flashes on and off while charging, and switches to a steady blue when fully charged.

It takes about 2.5 hours for a full charge.

Multi-voltage charger

Yes.

Charger weight/size

A small brick charger with 550 mA output.

2.1 oz total for the charger and the very short (6") removable cable.

Other charging methods

None provided, but because the cable that has the charger-to-phone connection at one end terminates in a regular USB plug at the other end, you can connect the unit up to any regular 5V USB port or power supply.

How many pairings can be stored

Eight, and it can be connected to two phones simultaneously.

The BlueAnt Q1 supports true multipoint technology.  Although other headset makers claim to support multipoint, most other headsets in the market today actually disconnect the second phone when you are on a call through your headset with the first phone.  This means that if you receive a call on your other phone while you are already on a call you will have to answer that call using the phone handset.

With the BlueAnt Q1 both phones remain connected even when you are on a call.  If you get a call on your other phone you can use the Q1 to put your active call on hold and answer your other phone (just hold down the 'Vol +' button for one second).

If you want to put the second call on hold and swap back to the first call on the other phone, just hold down the 'Vol +' button again. You can keep swapping between calls and phones as many times as you like - or until you get hopelessly confused and forget which connection is your wife and which is your girlfriend.  :)

Headset and hands-free profiles?

Yes, using 3GPP standard.

Audio profile for computers

Yes - A2DP.

Bluetooth compatibility

Version 2.1

Power/range

33'/10m.

Effective range

Effective range was about as expected, and close to 30' before any degradation in sound quality became apparent.

Maximum range, with appreciable sound quality loss, was considerably further (and unlikely to ever be needed in real life).

Warranty

The warranty is a very generous two year warranty, but offered to the original purchaser only.

Free return

Retailer policies will vary.

Noise cancelling/DSP

The BlueAnt Q1 claims to have very impressive noise cancelling capabilities.  With dual microphones, custom internal windshields and 'Voice Isolation Technology' (whatever that is) and a switchable choice between normal and maximum voice isolation, it all sounds very impressive.

In operation, the results were somewhere between good and very good, with the Achilles heel being when standing in front of a fan blowing directly into the headset.  A torture test for sure, but one which the iPhone itself managed much better than the headset.

Here is a sample with me switching several times between the iPhone and the Q1 in both regular and maximum voice isolation modes so you can form your own opinion.

My feeling is that the noise cancelling offered by the Q1 is definitely as good as on any other headsets tested and perhaps better.

Sound quality

Sound quality was excellent - both in terms of what I heard through the headset, and what people at the other end of a call heard too, and the Q1 was sensitive to my voice, meaning I didn't need to speak overly loudly to have it send my voice out at a normal level.

Here is a sample recording so you can hear the difference between talking through the BlueAnt Q1 and directly through an iPhone, in a quiet environment, and draw your own conclusions.


Capabilities

Turning on and off

To turn the headset on, you hold down the main button for three seconds.  The Blue light goes on to indicate it has switched on, then flickers to indicate pairing, then gives an occasional double flicker to indicate it is in standby mode.  If it is in your ear, you'll hear a triple rising tone, followed by a voice saying 'Your phone is connected' (if it is).

To turn it off, you can either press and hold the button again to turn it off (you'll hear a triple descending tone) or you can use the voice command 'Switch Headset Off'.

Auto connect

Yes.

Voice tag support

Supported (if also supported on the phone, of course).

Use the voice command 'Phone commands' for voice dialing and any other voice commands your phone may support.

Last number redial

Yes.

Say the command 'Redial' (and say 'Call Back' to call back the last number that called you).

Transfer call to/from phone

Yes - press the Vol + and Vol - keys simultaneously to toggle between phone and handset.  But be careful to get the timing perfect.  Too short and nothing happens, too long and you simply mute rather than transfer the call.

Call waiting/Three way calling

You can place your current call on hold and answer a second incoming call by pressing the Vol + button for a second - but, be careful; if you press the Vol - button instead, you'll cut off the first call and answer the second call.

Three way calling doesn't seem possible via the headset, but maybe you can manage this via the phone instead.

Call reject

Say 'Ignore' or double tap the button (careful, because a single tap means 'answer').

Call answer/end

Yes.

If the unit is already on, a short press of the main button will answer an incoming call - alternatively just say 'Answer'.

To end a call, a short press of the control button is again needed.

Mute

Yes, hold the Vol + and Vol - keys simultaneously for a second (if you don't press the keys long enough you'll instead transfer the call back to the phone and so while you think you've muted the call and are saying nasty things about the person on the other end, they are actually hearing everything you say through the phone.

You could potentially never know about this (until they tell you) because if you then click the two volume buttons again too quickly to unmute the call, you instead switch the call back to the headset and so as far as you are aware you successfully muted and unmuted the call.

This is a dangerous ambiguity of command function.

Other Features

The unit is very fully featured, and most notable is its voice recognition function which allows lots of things to be conveniently done by voice control.

You can program eight speed dial numbers into the headset itself - this might be useful if using the headset with a phone which didn't have your phone book loaded into it.

You can download new firmware into the Q1 by connecting it to your computer and accessing the BlueAnt website.  I did that and the firmware updated from v8.19 to v8.21 (I have no idea what changes or enhancements were included, but it felt good to get an update.)


Subjective

Attractive design

Yes, an appealing understated design, small in size and discreet rather than flashy, in a brushed dark grey metallic color.

Flashing indicators on standby

Yes, a blue light flashes every five seconds while the unit is on standby.

This can be switched off (by voice command - 'Settings Menu' then 'LED light'.

There is no flashing indicator however for when you are on a call.

Size

The unit measures about 2.1" x 0.6" and is 0.35" thick, with the earpiece protruding out another 0.5".

The earloop increases its size to about 2.9" x 1.6", with the same thickness.

The fragile earloop makes it difficult to carry in a pocket.


Summary

This is an excellent headset and at the time of writing has become our favorite headset, wrestling away that title from the Cardo S800, which had held that status for an impressive two years.  The Cardo unit, priced at about $15, remains the value champion, but the lovely Q1 is now without a doubt the best performer, and most people will probably choose to pay the extra money to get a Q1 rather than the Cardo S800.

Its voice control goes a long way towards making the unit easy to understand and operate.  It is attractive to look at, mounts securely and easily, and all in all, is an excellent headset.

With a list price of $100 and currently available on Amazon for a price ranging from between about $56 - 60, it is fairly priced for the premium headset that it is, and is much less expensive than many.

 

Using the BlueAnt Q1 Headset

The easiest and best way to use the BlueAnt Q1 headset is not to bother with memorizing the complex series of button pushes that could be used to control it, but instead trying to remember one or two of the voice command phrases.

As long as you remember the key phrase 'What Can I Say' everything else sort of follows from that point.

It was reasonably comfortable to wear, and has just about every feature and capability that you are likely to find on any Bluetooth headset today.

You can even play music through it, but of course it is neither high quality nor a stereo music player, and so there are few reasons to want to listen to music through this headset.  But it could be used to listen to podcasts or audio books that you have downloaded to your phone, and it can also be connected to your computer (assuming your computer is Bluetooth compatible), and then becomes useful with Skype and other VoIP type programs.

Connecting with phones

Everything worked fine with no problems encountered.

Summary

This is an excellent headset by all measures.  It provides excellent audio quality; it is reasonably attractive, comfortable, and both easy and secure to wear.  It is fully featured and reasonably easy to use.

Did I leave anything out?  Oh yes - it is fairly priced, too.  Some premium headsets are priced at ridiculously excessive levels; the BlueAnt Q1 lists for $100 but can be bought at Amazon for something under $60, making its price very fair.

The BlueAnt Q1 has become our favorite headset.  To see how it compares to the other high end contenders, we've provided a comparison page highlighting the differences between the BlueAnt Q1, the Jawbone, Jawbone 2 and the Cardo S-800.

Chances are you'll be happy with any of these choices, but our overall preference is for this unit as being better in just about every respect than the other contenders.

Recommended for everyone.

 

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Originally published 22 May 2010, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 

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