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  1.    #1  
    I have complained in a couple of threads about the lack of voice dialing on the Pre, and in one post it was pointed out to me that BlueAnt made two models of Bluetooth headsets that did voice dialing independent of your phone's capabilities. Radio Shack has the newest model, the Q1, in stock, so I figured I'd give it a try.

    The Q1 retails for $129 and includes the headset, ear clip, two rubber ear cushions, a USB wall charger and charging cable. The packaging is stylish but wasteful, with a hard plastic upper half that displays the headset (sans earclip) on a pedestal while all the accessories are housed in the cardboard lower half. BlueAnt must be somewhat cognizant of the wasteful aspect of the packaging, since there are some tongue-in-cheek suggestions included in the instructions on things you can do with the plastic end of the package, such as keep pennies or goldfish in it. In any case, at least it's not a blister pack. One big disappointment is that the charging cable is a whopping six inches long, limiting where you can plug this thing in.

    The headset itself is a dual microphone active noise cancellation unit. It's medium sized by today's standards, around two inches long with a half inch protuberance with the earpiece perched on it. It has a gentle curve to it to help aim the business end more toward your mouth. With the exception of the flashing BlueAnt logo on the main button there's not really anything to distinguish this from any other headset.

    The instructions included with the headset are disappointing, to say the least, consisting of a one inch square accordion folded paper with a list of basic functions printed on it. If you need anything more advanced you'll have to go to BlueAnt's web site and download the full documentation in .pdf form, and you'll have to register your product before they'll let you download it. I mention this because the basic instructions will not work when you're setting this headset up for use on a Pre.

    So, on to the thing that sets this headset apart: voice dialing. If you're looking for a full featured voice dialing package you're going to be disappointed. The Q1 achieves voice dialing by using the phones built in speed dial functions, that is to say, you can only voice dial numbers preset on speed dial on your phone, and the headset only allows you to address eight of these. You initiate voice dialing by pressing the main button, to which the headset responds with the voice prompt "Say a command". At this point you can say, for instance, "Call speed dial two" and the headset will signal to the phone to dial the number assigned to speed dial number two. There is no voice recognition to dial based on contact names or any other criteria.

    Even with the limitations listed above, setting this functionality up on the Pre takes some special configuration. the problem is that while the Pre's speed dial may look like what you're used to on other phones, there is one big difference, that being the actual key that the speed dial is bound to is the letter that the number shares the key with on the physical keyboard. For instance, if you go into contacts on the Pre and assign speed dial number 2 to a contact you will see that it is actually bound to speed dial R. The headset has no way to initiate speed dial R, so the phone does nothing when you tell the headset to call speed dial 2.

    The workaround for this is to assign a specific number gathered from caller ID to a speed dial within the headset. You do this by receiving a call, then, after the call has ended you press and hold the Vol- button, which will cause the phone to offer to allow you to store the caller ID of the last call received as a speed dial number. This works, but it's very clumsy, since the only way to store a number this way is to have the person call you. I should also mention that none of this is covered in the documentation that comes with the headset; you must download the full documentation from the website to find this.

    Once you have this all configured the headset works very well. If the headset is unsure of something you've said it will ask you to repeat it, but in my experience if you use the format it expects commands to be given in, i.e. "Call speed dial two" vs. "Call two", it very rarely asks you for clarification.

    Other features include last number redial simply by saying "Redial" and callback last incoming number by saying "Call Back". You can even get a list of commands by saying "What can I say". One capability I really like is the ability to transfer audio back to the phone by pressing both the Vol+ and Vol- buttons at once. My wife hates headsets, so this is a nice feature when handing a call over to her.

    Early on Pre users complained about the Q1 having exceptionally short battery life. This turned out to be an issue where the Q1 would never go to sleep or low power mode when connected to a Pre, but a firmware update fixed this issue. My Q1 came with firmware 8.15 installed, while the latest available version was 8.16. In another minor annoyance, the Update software looks for newer versions of the firmware and automatically installs any newer version found before allowing you to manually update to 8.16p, which fixes the battery life issue for Palm Pre users.

    The voice dial capabilities of the BlueAnt V1 and Q1 are unique among Bluetooth Headsets, and a functional alternative for Pre users who are missing voice dial. The audio quality is good and the noise reduction is effective, but not any better than many lower priced headsets. I personally think that a full featured voice dialing application for the Pre is coming, it's just a matter of time, and if you can wait you will likely be happier with that than the series of tradeoffs that this headset represents. If, on the other hand, you feel you need voice dialing now, this headset is a viable solution. It's not fancy, but it is competent at what it does.
    Last edited by CheshireFrog; 11/11/2009 at 03:39 PM.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
  2. #2  
    Well thought out review and I agree. I would add, that in addition to the version update for the Pre (8.16p), which fixes the battery drain problems for Pre users, while on the phone with a Blue Ant rep early today, I was informed that Pre users should not upgrade to version 8.19 which adds A2DP audio streaming (very nice feature) just yet. this is a major firmware update. Sadly, he said that installing 8.19 has been causing all audio functions on the the device to fail in conjunction with the Pre. They are releasing a Pre specific update that should be ready in the near future. He actually said next week, but I'm not holding my breath.
  3. #3  
    The one thing I am trying to figure out.....is.....is this more of a PALM thing or a BLUEANT thing....What does my Pre not do that other phones do in relation to bluetooth?
    I likey take apart thingies....

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