It seems like there were only a handful of Bluetooth headsets two years ago that really worked well. The technology was emergent and spotty. In the last year or so, new companies have popped up delivering high quality, affordable Bluetooth technology. As a result, you can’t really go anywhere without seeing someone wearing the latest Bluetooth headset while driving, shopping or at work.
One of the companies I have been most impressed with is BlueAnt Wireless from Australia. They are not resting on their laurels as they have released two more headsets to join their award winning lineup. In this review I will take a look at both the T8 micro and the V12 LCD Bluetooth headset. Is one of these right for your Bluetooth needs? Read on for my thoughts. As one who questioned whether Bluetooth would really catch on, I am pleased to see such a proliferation of options for the Bluetooth user. There is really no excuse anymore for someone driving and holding their cell phone. Bluetooth is easy to set up, reliable and many of the headsets offer outstanding sound quality.
One of the great new Bluetooth Wireless companies comes from Australia – BlueAnt Wireless. I use their x5 Bluetooth Stereo Headset to stream Satellite radio without wires and my wife regularly uses the Supertooth II hands free car kit – both of which have received many great reviews.
BlueAnt now brings two very affordable Bluetooth solutions to the market – one, the T8 is small, really small. The other, the V12 offers an LCS screen with lots of information – from caller ID to battery life.
I very much like the philosophy of BlueAnt – a philosophy which is reflected in their self-description found on their web site:
A market leader in the Australian Bluetooth industry, BlueAnt Wireless provides the ultimate in Bluetooth communication and audio streaming solutions.
Our success to date has been rapid yet our approach is simple: to deliver a customer centric solution through the creation of close relationships with all of our partners – from our distributors to our dealers, through to the people buying our products.
We only offer services that we can deliver. We only launch products that we can support.
BlueAnt is the Bluetooth brand which an increasing number of dealers are adding to their range. We recognize that we need to be different. We recognize that we need to be more than just another Bluetooth brand.
First up: the T8 micro
The first thing you notice about the T8 micro is its size – it is really very small. Here is the official line from the company web site:
T8 micro Bluetooth Headset
The BlueAnt T8 micro is an affordable, lightweight and ergonomic Bluetooth headset that delivers comfort, excellent battery life and clear audio quality. The T8 micro is designed using the latest Bluetooth 2.0 technology which can enhance a faster connection between devices and runs on extremely low power consumption.
The T8 micro stores the pairing information of up to 8 Bluetooth devices and comes with a wall charger as standard.
Small ergonomic design (only 2′ long) Excellent talk time and standby time Pairs with 8 Bluetooth devices Lightweight (less than one half ounce) 2 year warranty
T8 Micro specification
Bluetooth Version v2.0 Supported Bluetooth Profiles Headset and Handsfree Number of devices Stores information for 8 different devices Frequency Band 2.4GHz ~ 2.4835 (frequency Hopping) Certification Approvals CE, FCC, BQB, C-Tick
Security 128 bit Digital Encryption Talk Time 9 Hours Standby Time 250 Hours Battery Rechargeable 120mAh Li-Polymer Charger 110v – 240v Switch Mode Charger Operating range Up to 30 feet (10 meters)
Weight Half an ounce (13 grams)
Dimensions 2′ x 1′ x 1′ ( 52 x 26 x 28 mm)
Indicator Lights Blue, Red and Purple (LED’s can be turned off)
Compatibility Windows, Mac, Mobile Phones, Pda’s and VOIP applications
What’s in the package?
1 x T8 micro Bluetooth Headset 2 x Gel speaker covers 1 x Foam speaker cover 1 x Ear Hook 1 x User Manual 1 x Wall AC adapter 1 x 2 Year Warranty Card
The T8 micro is a very small, relatively simple headset. The T8 has one larger multi-function button in the center which has a very nice, positive touch kind of feel to it. There are volume up and volume down buttons which were quite easy to access while in use.
The T8 has a few ear-bud options in order to provide the user with a solid, comfortable fit. It can be worn either with or without one of the included ear loops.
The T8 is a bluetooth 2.0 device – that usually translates into a quicker connection and longer battery life. The T8 uses what BlueAnt calls ‘Ambient Noise Reduction.’ If I understand this correctly, because this little guy pugs up your ear so nicely – you can’t really hear what is going on around you. This is not DSP technology – but for a standard headset it did a very good job of sound isolation.
One of the nice, thoughtful touches to this headset is that the flashing blue LED’s can be turned off for nighttime driving.
Ease of Use:
The T8 could not be easier to use. Put your phone into pairing mode and turn on the T8. The first time you use the T8 it automatically goes into pairing mode. After that, the T8 picked up calls automatically from whichever phone it was connected to at the time. Some phones require a manual push of the MFB to take calls – but I found this not to be necessary on a Treo, Windows Mobile Smartphone and a BlackBerry.
Voice Command was easy to initiate from the headset – just a push of the MFB and most voice commands were picked up beautifully.
I was initially skeptical of the T8 because of its small size and the distance away from my mouth. I was also skeptical since this is essentially a ‘budget’ headset. I should have known better from my prior experience with BlueAnt. Sound quality was very good. When I was talking on the headset, it was plenty loud and I could hear fine. Calls sounded clear and I could speak in a natural voice and carry on my conversations with ease.
On the other end, callers sometimes said that the sound was not as clear as speaking directly on the headset, but no one had difficulty understanding me at all. I can safely say that this was by far the best sounding budget headset I have tested.
Over all Conclusions:
With the BlueAnt T8, they are following nicely on the heels of the X3 micro – which was one of the best low cost headsets available. The size is great – about half an ounce in weight – you really don’t notice the headset. Sound quality was good and battery life was tremendous. I can absolutely recommend this headset to just about anyone who needs a basic headset that just works well.
Final Grade: A-
Pros: Great size and weight, great battery life, low cost
Cons: Ear loop was a little uncomfortable for users who wear glasses
The BlueAnt T8 is available for $49.00 from www.myblueant.com and from many third party vendors
Next Up: BlueAnt V12 LCD Bluetooth headset
The V12 is a very intriguing and different headset. Not only does it do everything that all other BlueAnt headsets do – it contains an LCD screen which gives all kinds of information to the user. It also has a vibration feature which is a little unsettling at first, but turns out to be a very cool feature. Here is the official line on the V12 from the BlueAnt site:
V12 – LCD Bluetooth headset
The BlueAnt V12 Bluetooth headset with LCD display, caller ID and vibrating call alert is packed with some truly advanced features.
The automatic backlit LCD screen offers advanced features such as 12 number caller ID, battery and volume level indicators, and the last 10 number caller history. With voice dial, vibrating caller alert and a micro usb neckstrap, the lightweight (1/2 ounce/ 16 grams), V12 Bluetooth headset is the full featured Bluetooth headset at an affordable price.
With an extended battery life of up to 12 hours talk time and 15 days standby time, the V12 is built to keep you on the move.
Backlit LCD with 12 digit Caller ID Vibrate alert for incoming calls Intelligent status indicators Ambient Noise Reduction Full duplex Micro USB lanyard to easily view headset status Small and large ear hook included Displays and stores the last 10 numbers received for re dialing Pairs with up to 5 devices Brushed aluminum finish Rechargeable lithium polymer battery Up to 12 hrs talk-time or up to 360 hrs standby 2 year replacement warranty V12 specification
Bluetooth compliance Bluetooth version 1.2 specifications Supported Bluetooth profiles Bluetooth headset and handsfree profiles with automatic detection
Operating Range Up to 30 feet (10 meters) Frequency 2.4GHz Talk Time Up to 12 hours Standby Time Up to 360 hours Charging Time 3 hours Battery Type Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
Special Features * Ambient Noise Reduction * Caller ID on LCD display * Received Call History * Last Ten Received Numbers dialing * Voice Recognition dialing _ (if phone supports) * Reject Incoming Call * Vibrating Alert
Weight 1/2 ounce (16 grams) Dimension (mm) 59.5 x 19 x 14 (25 with speaker)
Display * 12 digits caller ID, _ (ID will be hidden after answering) * Volume Level * Battery Level (0 to 100%) * Charging Level (0 to 100%) * Connection and Call Status * Automatic backlight
The V12 is a little larger than the other BlueAnt Wireless headsets I have tested. The reason for the larger size is the inclusion of the LCD screen. The button layout is still simple and uncomplicated – which seems to be one of the hallmarks of the BlueAnt design. One multi-function button and a volume up and down are all the buttons you need to worry about. Unlike some other headsets I have tested, this is an incredibly sturdy headset with excellent build quality.
If this headset were to drop or fall I would not worry in the least about breakage or damage. Fortunately, BlueAnt has one of the best in the business 2 year warranty policy on all their headsets.
What makes this headset unique is the LCD screen. The LCD shows you which phone is currently connected (you can have this paired with 5 devices.) It also shows you the remaining battery life and whether the vibration feature is activated or not.
When a call comes in the headset with vibrate (if set to do so) and the caller ID shows up in the screen of the headset. Now, the first question I asked was ‘if I am wearing this in my ear, why do I need to see the caller ID on the screen?’ Well, the real nice thing about this headset is that you can put it on a lanyard (included) and keep your phone tucked away. You can immediately decide whether to take the call or reject it and see who is calling you without taking out your phone.
Another nice feature is that the last five numbers called are stored in memory and can easily be recalled for re-dialing.
Two ear loops were included – one was way too big for me – the other was fine. Because this headset is a little bigger than others, it was a little more tricky to get a comfortable fit.
Ease of Use:
While the V12 looks very sophisticated and complicated with its LCD screen, it is just as easy to use as all other BlueAnt headsets. When you turn it on the first time, it is automatically in ‘pairing’ mode. Just have your phone find it, put in the ‘0000’ passcode and that’s it. Calls were automatically answered by most phone I tested and some required a manual push of the MFB to answer calls. Hold in the MFB and the Voice dial is enabled (assuming your phone supports that) and it worked beautifully.
When not on a call it was very easy to scroll through my call history and even redial a previous call right from the headset.
The BlueAnt V12 offered superior sound quality. While there is no Digital Signal Processing going on here, the calls were very clear and there was no background noise whatsoever. Callers sounded great when wearing the headset and folks on the other end said that the call quality was very good. The microphone sits a little closer to the mouth than the T8 because of the more elongated design.
This is a great headset and a real bargain at the $79.99 price point. Calls were clear and loud. The LCD screen is a great feature. I appreciated seeing who was calling (assuming I wasn’t wearing the headset at the time) and the vibration feature, although startling at first, was actually a great way to notify me that a call was coming in. The headset was a little larger and heavier than I would ideally like and I did have some issues with it staying comfortable on my ear – but these were minor inconveniences given the overall functionality of this headset. The bonus was just incredible battery life and stand by time and knowing exactly how much battery remained via the LCD screen.
Final Grade: A-
Pros: Great features, nice LCD screen, vibration feature, re dialing past calls was a snap, good sound quality
Cons: A little large, not the most comfortable of headsets.
The BlueAnt V12 is available for $79.99 at www.muyblueant.com and on line at many retailers.
Final Note: I can feel very good about recommending both these headsets to our readers. BlueAnt does one thing – it makes quality Bluetooth headsets. They really seem to care about customer support and feedback and they are great to deal with. They offer more ‘bang for the buck’ than just about anyone in the Bluetooth industry.