When you read the phrase “Bluetooth Headset” what do you picture? Perhaps you are seeing images of a businessman or woman on the move with an industrial looking piece attached to one ear. Being a professional trying to get things done on the move you’re going to want something that fits some criteria. Compact, stylish and professional looking enough so that people don’t take you as some crazy with a kids toy in your ear, good battery life, quality sound, the basics right? BlueAnt has yet again stepped into the Bluetooth arena to tackle mobile communication but this time not with a fancy ribbon but instead, a professional headset. Read on to find out how it fares in our day-to-day testing.
The bluetooth headset market is full of devices that are all trying to fit the same purpose: satisfying commuters needs. Cars do this too. Just like cars, bluetooth headsets can come in a variety of looks and build qualities. Luckily, the BlueAnt Q3 comes in a nicer level over some headsets while still staying at a fair price-point for higher-end devices. For example, as with a more expensive car, you don’t expect creaking or flexing when pressing on dash panels. The Q3 pleases with utter silence when handled and tossed around, just what the doctor ordered. The body of the Q3 features a solid black shell with a long grille of perforated plastic bordered by two thing accented polished metal arms flowing with it towards the rear of the device to it’s controls. There’s also a platinum edition which trades out some of the side accents, grille, and buttons from black to, you guessed it, platinum to give it that extra oomph in looks. Reaching the rear of the device you’ll find a sizable button, which is undoubtedly the most important button on the device, but more on that later. Behind this main button you’ll find a jog switch for volume control and the USB port cleverly hidden where only the inside of your ear will know. On the inner portion of the “J” shaped headset you’ll find the earpiece, a power toggle, and tiny hole for the optional ear hook. This optional earpiece hook is well designed with a rubber insert that the earpiece hook slides into. It allows for at least 50 degrees of freedom for the headset to align perfectly with your preferred position. BlueAnt also provides 5 earpiece inserts for the earbud which should allow the user to go hook-less when matched properly if you are a fan of chaos and living on the edge. Finally, there are multiple LED colors for charging and the “ON” state. BlueAnt gets a lot of points here for choosing to go with a nice professional white color on it’s “ON” status. While connected and activated it will blink a very short white LED blink twice every 7 seconds or so to alert you to it’s presence. But enough with that, let’s get to actual usage!
Performance and Usage
The Q3 takes the approach of an assistant early on. This is where that big button comes into play. This guy gets you access to everything on the device. Give it a single tap to talk to the “assitant” or a double tap to jump straight to Siri or Google Now. When you first are setting up the headset, it will give you a voice guided instruction on how to pair and set up the device. Once paired, after having told you the battery level, it will ask you “Say a command”. Feel free to bark back with “WHAT CAN I SAY!?” Instantly, the assistant will immediately go through a list of the optional commands that are available. This is definitely a helpful feature if you use the device on and off and are forgetful. On the back, the volume button can be toggled and you will be greeted with “Volume Up” or “Volume Down” in the correct level as you change settings. I definitely found it difficult to activate this though while in-ear, especially while traveling and it was most “dangerous” without the earhook. Speaking of the earhook, it’s a love/hate relationship. While the earhook is minimal and barely noticeable, it provides added comfort of knowing that your headset is sitting nicely against your cheek for noise canceling and securely in your ear for the best sound quality. That being said, it can be a pain if not impossible to put on the headset with the earhook singlehandedly. Maybe it’s just my ears and this is subjective from person to person, but the hook really requires both hands versus just popping the thing in with one hand sans-hook.
Call quality was good, until the iPhone 5 came out. It seems there was some issue with the connection process and the 5/5s, but a firmware update fixed these issues – make sure you update the Q3 if you are having any 5s call quality issues or connection issues. The update is available on their site. This update improved the incoming sound and cleared it up a bit. Although there is a little bit of fuzzy/distant sound when talking to someone, adjusting the volume slightly higher typically fixed the issue and was more than acceptable in quality. This is definitely something you will want to test out for yourself as it’s very subjective. On the outgoing end, background noise was cut down very well with the Q3. BlueAnt uses it’s Wind Armour Technology to block out background noise and keep the focus on what you are saying. In all of our test calls the people on the other end could not hear any background noise even in highway driving conditions. This may also have to do with the double bandwidth that BlueAnt boasts on their website.
As far as the phone/app side of things go, you’ll notice that once connected the battery life will appear up top next to your phone’s existing battery icon (you can also say “Battery” to be notified of not only the headset’s battery level but also your phone battery level, very nice). Speaking of battery life, I was able to get close to 6 hours and had no issues with range reaching up to about 20 feet unobstructed. Charging has been designed to provide a nice 50% in only 30 minutes, with a full charge taking approximately 2 hours. Finally Android users will be happy to know that they can download the Android app to have their incoming texts read to them via the headset at a speed that they set in-app. Unfortunately iPhone users will have to ask Siri to read unread text messages, but you can’t slam any headset for this as it’s Apple’s own design.
The Q3 can connect up to 2 devices at once to itself, a primary and secondary phone. When a call’s coming in you can just hit accept to answer from either phone. When making a call out though you will have to call from the first paired phone (aka the primary phone). I didn’t make use of this feature but I could see it coming in handy if you are given a company phone as well as your personal device as well as the call waiting feature which requires you to push and hold the command button. Another feature that the Q3 has is the ability to connect multiple callers together in one call for a conference. During a call press and hold the command button for 3 seconds to give you the option to add more callers into a call. Note that this will depend on your cellular providers capabilities.
Should you run out and buy the Q3 for everyone on your Christmas list? Of course not, it’s not made for EVERYONE. It’s definitely a versatile headset that is much safer in the car and on the go than hand-holding a smartphone. It provides noise blocking, a huge array of hands-free commands, and feeds audio back into your ear with good clarity while lasting most of the day in normal usage with unique features not available in other headsets. Fortunately, the cost of some of these premium headsets have gone down since their original MSRP, and that brings me closer to recommending a buy on them. Hovering around $60 on Amazon I would definitely consider it as a bluetooth headset to buy. Then again I would also consider the Plantronics Voyager Legend as well as the Icon HD from Jawbone as they are all in the same price range.