Although BlueAnt focuses exclusively on Bluetooth communication gadgets (and now earphones), they aren’t as well recognized as some of the other names coming up in our review, and they don’t proffer up a ton of offerings. In fact, they currently only offer five; with the BlueAnt Q2 Headset ($100) positioned as their marquis headset.
The Q2 is designed to function almost completely hands-free. Once paired (easy to do), the extremely verbose voice guide explains the functions and takes the user through a few preliminary steps, painlessly transferring names and numbers of all contacts on the user’s iPhone along the way (seriously though, that’s one talkative headset). Once all contact info is loaded onto the Q2, the headset will speak the names of incoming callers and allow the user to answer simply by saying “answer.” Likewise, actions such as placing a call, checking the battery, connecting, setting the sensitivity level and pairing can all be accomplished by clicking the multi-function button and then saying a command. There’s even a voice command to access Bing 411 (a free service provided by Microsoft that lets anyone with a phone listen to updates on news, sports, stocks, weather etc.)
Despite the Q2’s quiver of tips falling on the smallish side (even the largest one was still a little loose in my ear, a first among headsets I’ve tried), the headset felt stable and comfy, even without the earclip. This is in part thanks to a large pad at the set’s tip that rests against the user’s cheek.
This is a solid, good-looking, well-designed headset. With its clean lines, mesh grill and impressively, understated-yet-bright white/red LED, The Q2 looks and feels like it might fit in the console tray of, say, a BMW 750i. An action button on the face, power switch at the back by the mini-USB charge-port and a volume rocker at the top are all prominent and easy to use and provide excellent feedback.
Finally someone realized that yeah, it’s great if the person on the other end can hear, but conversation is a two-way street: So the Q2 comes with one of — if not the — most powerful, loudest and clearest headset speakers known to man. Although generally good, sound quality on the other end was somewhat spotty though, with testers sometimes reporting that I sounded great, and other times tinny or distorted. Ambient noise-cancelling strength was also perhaps a little above average for its class, though nowhere near the noise-cancellng wizardry of the Jawbone Era.
The Q2 is multi-point set, and can connect and switch seamlessly between two BT-equipped devices (like say, an iPhone and an iPad, MBP, etc.) It’s also A2DP-equipped, which means the user can stream music, GPS directions from a GPS app or what have you. Battery time was a little above average at about 4.5 hours of talk time.
Wind-cancelling prowess seemed about on a par with that of other headsets we’ve tried, despite our hopes (based on BlueAnt’s promotion of this feature).
Sometimes the Q2 seemed a little hesitant to connect when powered up, leaving me (and the caller) waiting while the ‘set found my iPhone and connected if it happened to be turned off.
While there’s an Android app that’ll read aloud test messages, it doesn’t do squat for us as there’s no iOS equivalent (BlueAnt says this isn’t their fault: Apparently Apple won’t allow access to the SMS stack).
Despite occasional spotty performance and only average-ish results for callers on the other end, the Q2 is a beautifully crafted, well-designed, professional piece of kit with superb features and a best-in-class speaker.
This is Primo Headset Week, and we’ll be test driving all the high-end Bluetooth headsets we can lay our hands on.