Review: Blueant Q1 Voice Controlled Bluetooth Headset

By Michael Hepples on 22 Jan 2010 10:01 am EST
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

Blueant Q1

While at CES, I had the opportunity to meet the great folks over at BlueAnt and have a chat with them about their Q1 headset. This sexy little piece of hardware had me smitten from the get-go, and I fell completely in love with it during the course of testing it out for this review. It seems like many people are tossing Bluetooth headsets to the curb lately, but the little guy is sure to stick by my side for a while. I haven't used a headset quite like the Q1 before, so lets get going and see how it holds up.

Some main points about the Blueant Q1:

  • Voice Controlled
  • Multipoint (can stay connected to 2 phones at the same time)
  • A2DP support
  • Firmware upgrades
  • Stores pairing info for up to 8 devices
  • Battery Life: 100 hours standby, 5 hours talk time

Initial impressions

Right out of the box, this headset looks downright sexy. Sleek and compact, and extremely lightweight, with a removable ear hook, for those of us that prefer to rock it without. The headset also comes with additional ear buds, to ensure a proper fit. The earbuds are also ergonomically molded, providing for greater comfort when wearing for long periods of time.

Set up

Setting up the Q1 is a breeze. pre-charged out of the box, you can unwrap and have yourself up and running in minutes. Simply power the headset on, and follow the voice prompts. It's that easy. With BlueAnt's implementation of voice technology, the headset guides you through the process of pairing for the first time. Using the "Teach Me" command will walk you through a set of instructions, and goes through the various voice commands, asking you to repeat them before moving on to the next one. It even reports a "success" dialog whenever it recognizes each command, so you know how well it is understanding your speech.

Blueant Q1

Daily Use

I have worn the Q1 for as long as 12 hours at a stretch during the past week, with no discomfort whatsoever. The different shape of the earbuds allows for a more natural fit in the ear, allowing it to be used for a long period of time, without causing pain, as I have experienced with other bluetooth headsets. The ease with which I can use the various functions has floored me at times. My personal favorite in the long list of features is the "Check Battery" command. I have never used a headset that would actually report the remaining battery, having to rely entirely on guesswork to know when it required charging. With the BlueAnt Q1, a simple press of the button, along with the spoken command, and the headset will report the battery level of both the headset and the paired device. Getting a call? the headset will announce the number calling you, and you can simply speak "Answer" or "Ignore", a definite bonus when driving.

The Q1 also uses true Multipoint pairing, allowing it to be paired, and connected to, 2 devices at the same time. For me, this feature is all win. I use two separate devices for work and personal lines, and being able to have both connected while I am out and about makes life so simple, it hurts. Once both devices have been paired initially, simply power up the headset, and it will connect to each of the devices automatically. If I'm in a call on my personal line, and a work call comes through, a simple touch of the button places the current call on hold and switches to the call coming from the other handset. However, when calling a number from the headset voice dialing, it was unfortunate to find that I had no way to choose which device the call was placed on.

When I decide to kick back and relax with some tunes, launching the music on device automatically streams through the headset, without having to do a switchover. One sore point for me was having an issue designating a particular device to stream from when two were connected. I found that when I had paired up my work BB (2nd), the headset wanted to default to it to receive streaming audio, when all my tunes were on the personal BB. The headset also comes in handy when using a speech-based GPS navigation application, allowing you to stream the voice prompts directly through your headset for a safer driving experience.

Firmware Upgrades

To the geek in me, this was one utterly cool feature of the Q1. BlueAnt is constantly improving the firmware for the Q1, and makes the updates available online for updating the headset. There are even various language packs available to be loaded on the Q1, allowing non-English speaking users to get maximum usage out of the voice-control properties of the headset.

Updating the firmware was a breeze. After visiting the BlueAnt website and registering the Q1, I was able to download the updater software to my laptop. Once I installed the software, updating was as simple as launching the updater, hooking up the headset via the provided USB, and following the prompts.

Conclusion

Pros

  • True Multipoint - two devices connected and in use simultaneously
  • Looks and feels great
  • Voice-control makes for incredibly easy use, even for a novice
  • Upgradeable firmware, available in different languages

Cons

  • Does not use a standard USB cable
  • Multipoint works well, but unable to choose device when streaming media or making a call.

All in all, I have to say that the BlueAnt Q1 is a solid all-around piece of hardware, and a perfect fit for any user. The comfort and ease of use alone make it a worthwhile addition to my BlackBerry accessory collection, and the extra features like Multipoint just put the icing on the cake. While there are a few drawbacks, as noted earlier, I would have to give this a personal rating of 4 stars overall.

Reader comments

Review: Blueant Q1 Voice Controlled Bluetooth Headset

32 Comments

The bells and whistles are nice but I am curious about real life performance with voice quality in the car and background noise.
I wonder how it's performance compares to the Jawbone Prime. Bells and whistles are nice but performance is ultimately what counts for me.

I gotta say that this is the best bluetooth I've ever had (With the Plantronics 520 being a close second). The real life performance is impressive. Whoever you're talking to won't even know you're on a bluetooth. I think the fact that it talks to you and lets you control options on your phone just by talking into the bluetooth is clutch too.

Best headset I have ever used with 2 problems. One big and one small.

Small Problem: can't do device updates using Vista Ultimate.
Big Problem: It doesn't fit in my ear. I have tried all the ear buds they offer for the device to no avail. The ones they offer are in my opinion no the best shape and they are either too big or too small.

More options would be great and would have me using it once again.

Until then it's speaker phone for me.

iv had the z9i and V1 from blueant. very comfortable but performance lacking. even with the noise cancelation i get a lot of negative feedback from the other end about background noise and static. forget it in the a public place. since the V1 i have gone back to the first gen jawbone and have been told that i sound like im on the phone directly. Battery on the V1 quickly drains and i had to get it replaced (free) and now a couple months later seeing same battery issues.
just my .02 - i would have to leave this one on the shelf and grab the jawbone. and if your not into style the first gen jawbone will also do!

Its nice, but I have the Motorola H15, and the best part is the flipping close of the device to save battery life. I haven't had a bluetooth that was so clear (and it doesn't go IN the ear, but rather rests on it)

Sound quality was below par, a lot of distortion. Returned it after a week of using it and really wanting to like it. Returned it for the Jawbone Prime, love it and I don't have to use the ear loop.

..... both Jawbone versions, Cardo, Motorola and Plantronic bluetooth headsets. Even have the V1 from BlueAnt, but my favorite is the Q1. On par with the jawbone for clarity and style, but the voice activated side of this one, sets it apart from all others.

The comfort level is also unmatched. I am an HVAC contractor so it is in my ear for most of the day and my hands are always doing something. With the Q1, I never have to worry about wiping my hands off or getting my phone messed up. Just say "Answer" or "Ignore". That's it.

The ultimate bluetooth headset of headsets. By far this is the best!!!. The firmware updates took care of alot of issues that I had initially and the customer service/support was outstanding. The sound quality and comfort level out performs any and all of the headsets that I have ever owned. Had a Jawbone prior to Blueant and it just wasn't for me. Both are good devices but Blueant just stands out from the crowd.

Sound quality is great but over all volume is kind of low. Im a bit hard of hearing. So its kind of an issue. Ive had cheap throw away bt's that were much louder with really bad quality. Is there a hidden menu to make it louder?

Also when i stream music from any program from my bb 8320 4.5 os it stutters every 2 to 3 seconds. I upgraded the software 2 weeks ago but this did not fix either issue.

Okay I want this for the hot "pop that collar!" look it's sporting & the features are unbelievable. Well done michaelwpg. This little gem is now on my Wish List..

I have the V1 and I love it. I have it on the visor of my car and use it once a day for say 15 minutes max and I have not charged it in weeks. Hope the new one is as good as the V1.

The only thing I did not like about this headset was that it took a lot of functions away from my Blackberry and added an extra step to utilize the BlueAnt. For instance, voice dialing. Also, as communicated above, the power on/off to answer a call didn't fit into my use.

Sound quality was great, never any complaints. Volume too.

Think it is a great headset, just a bit cumbersome for my use.

In the end, the ease of my H15 brought me back to it.

Which functions are you referring to exactly, and would you happen to be using vlingo or the stock voice software?

Great review Michael. I agree with all of your points. It is extremely comfortable, I almost forget I'm wearing it sometimes. No other BT headset has been so easy to wear. I also had trouble updating the firmware with Vista Home Premium but was able to update it with Windows XP Home. I hope Windows 7 will not be a problem. Customer service has been good so far. It's great to know the battery level and I've only had it drain completely twice. It does alert you to the very low battery level with a unique sound. I did have some distortion but it was only from my sister's phone and have not experience it with any other callers. BTW, I got it for $79.99 from msgdigital. Great price!

Great review. I currently use a Plantronics Voyager, but I will certainly be checking this out. Thanks again for an excellent write up.

Had Z9 and V1. Good headsets. Bought 2 Q1s (long story) and hate both of them. They both sound muffled. All bells and whistles are great but if you can't hear on them if just sucks. Have a new Plantronics that I gave over $100 for and love it. Would be willing to sell both the Q1s cheap if anyone interested.

Michael: I've flirted with the idea of the BlueAnt for sometime now. Currently, I'm using the Jawbone Prime with my Storm 2. It's "Ok" but not great and, even with the ear loop, I'm CONSTANTLY having to adjust it to keep it from falling out (tried all the earbuds, same experience). So, needless to say, I'd love something better (I refuse to get anything that does not include a loop).

Your review sounds interesting but, I found it lacking in discussing some key features...really, just how GOOD is the voice quality (especially compared to some of the other devices you've tried/owned)? How well does their noise cancellation work? Without some additional, detailed info on these factors, I'm left thinking "interesting, but no sale for me."

Apologies for not touching more on that. As for the voice quality, I had no issues on my end, with everything coming through clearly, even in noisy environments. As for those on the other end, I had no complaints in a normal setting, some couldn't even tell I was on it. I had a few complaints at first when outside, or in noisy environments, but once I got used to setting the "Noise Cancellation" mode, those quickly stopped. You could still tell I was in that type of environment, but the quality was much improved.

Hope that helped to answer your questions.

...but you want the benefit of Blue Ant's technology, I highly recommend the V1. It's way smaller and more compact. I've had it for 3 months and I haven't been disappointed, voice quality has been very good, never sounded muffled, I've only had complaints in over 30mph wind of noise and not being able to hear me...but then I switched it to "Voice Isolation Max" mode and everything was better. Blue Ant technology takes a little getting used to with the dude talking in your ear, but once you get used to his voice, it's pretty much smooth sailing.

This is a great headset and it is super clear while driving and so on. The one problem I found with the Q1 was that sometimes it has to be really quiet and you have to shout answer for it to pick up. I had the V1 and didnt have this problem with the voice commands. The design of this and the clarity of the actual call make it a great headset.

This is my first blackberry and this site has been WONDERFULL in helping me find things out about it. I have the tour and have had several different bluetooths but with all of them the phone still rings and not the headset. Will this bluetooth fix that, and more importantly (to me) will it play my ringtones over the head set? Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thanks!!

One question, on an incoming call do hear the number or do you hear the contact's name if its someone from your address book?

It would be way cool, but it only tells you the number. On the bright side, it makes me remember phone numbers ;-)

I have the Jawbone II and I hate the fact that when I keep it in my pocket it turns on or off depending on how squashed it gets. This is annoying!
How does the Q1 compare? it looks like it has an actual button. this could be what brings me over to Blueant because I am hating not having a place to put my jawbone when I get to my destination or when I do not need to use it!!!

A

Does the Q1 (or V1) conflict with vlingo at all? Seems to me that the way vlingo is activated would let the BlueAnt just do its own thing separately.

I have a shoebox full of bluetooth devices and this the best one I have ever used.Two things are important to me,sound quality and comfort.The sound quality is great at both ends and it is comfortable. I put it on at 5am and dont take it off until about 8pm and dont even know its there. this is a keeper.

I have this ear piece and while it is very tiny and comfortable, I have had issues with other people having a hard time hearing me on the other end

jen

After trying and returning so many headsets i finally found the one.

For me

Pros:
- A2DP support is great.
- Good wind reduction.
- Clarity better than most around its price.
- Voice control is ok.
- Sexy looks.

Cons:
- Does not fit my ear well. (bought Comply Foam for better fit)
- Ear hook eventually loosen and may cause headset to drop.
- Voice control is sometimes moody and does not want to answer the phone. even in quiet conditions.

THANKS

Hello,
The voice control and ability to update on the Blueant Q1 are great.
They would be better if the design and materials were better. Mine broke after about 2 weeks, and my wifes broke after about 1 month. Our plantronics 925's lasted 15 months (mine) and 22 months (my wifes) under the same or very similar usage .
The Plantronics 925 is metal where the Blueant is plastic and broke. My wife and I do use blue tooth a few hours a day, (but Plantronics holds up to that) maybe the rest of you don't. I'm wondering if Blueant switched materials a couple of months ago? It seems like there is an influx of broken Q1's within a month of purchase, more recently?
The plastic was flaky, thin, and cheap (where it broke off). I got pieces or flakes of the plastic in my ear, when it broke. Lukily I went straight to the docs, and had an "irrigation", or "ear-igation" done. Luckily I didn't have any damage to my ear drum. My doctor documented and saved the evidence! I will update you on Blueant later. I would NEVER get a bluant for any loved one and or children, not even my dearest enemies. Buyer Beware!