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BlueAnt S3 Compact Car Speakerphone

March 18th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

5 Stars- techdad

BlueAnt S3 Compact- Front View

A blue ant, according to the Wikipedia entry, is not a blue ant at all. It is a solitary wasp sometimes known as a flower wasp and is native to parts of Australia. BlueAnt Wireless on the other hand, is a wireless communications company specializing in high-quality Bluetooth mobile devices and is also native to Australia. The BlueAnt S3 Compact Car Speakerphone is BlueAnt’s latest Bluetooth speakerphone. The S3’s big brother, the S4, is widely considered to be the best and most advanced Bluetooth speakerphone on the market today. To make sure the S4 didn’t grow up an only child, BlueAnt gave birth to the S3 Compact.

PROS

  • Easy pairing and simple to use
  • Good, loud sound with A2DP audio support
  • Physical On/Off switch
  • Answer/Ignore calls by voice
  • Great battery life
  • Multipoint support
  • Good build quality w/2 year warranty

CONS

  • Music sounds just OK

 

BlueAnt S3 Compact- Product Contents

CONTENTS, BUILD QUALITY, & DESIGN
The S3 package includes a car charger with a USB port, a micro USB cable, 1 small and 1 large visor clip and a manual.

Upon opening the package, the first thing I noticed was how solid the S3 Compact felt in my hands. There were no visible open seams in the plastic and it felt very durable. I went over the the entire unit with my hands and put pressure on it to see if any part of the S3 would flex but couldn’t find any.

The S3 unit itself only has 1 physical button– the on/off switch, which I love. I’m learning to dislike Bluetooth devices that require you to hold a button down to turn it on and off. A switch is quicker and more convenient. The other functions of the S3 are controlled via it’s front touch-sensitive control panel, which include a multifunction button and volume controls.

BlueAnt S3 Compact- Side Angle Clip View
USAGE
I once helped someone set up an integrated Bluetooth system in their Acura and it was hard to set up and not very intuitive to use. Setup and usage of the S3 was a different experience. When I turned the S3 on for the first time, I was asked to confirm the language by pressing the multifunction button. I accidentally selected Australian English and had a male voice with an Australian accent walk me through the rest of the pairing process. Luckily, I was able to change the language later after a reset. The S3 then automatically entered pairing mode and the male voice instructed me through the pairing process. It was very simple and I didn’t even need to enter a code. It then transferred my phonebook. On my Droid X, I got a prompt to confirm whether I wanted to transfer the phonebook. After I confirmed the transfer, it completed in just a few seconds. I have less than 100 contacts but the S3 can store up to 2,000 contacts, per phone. The benefit of transferring the phonebook is that the S3 will announce the name of the caller if they exist in your phonebook.

Making calls by voice worked reasonably well but the best part was being able to answer and ignore calls by voice. I was able to answer calls by just saying, “Answer” or ignore them by saying “Ignore.” These voice commands are really what help distinguish the S3 from other speakerphones that require you to physically touch a button to answer or ignore calls.

The touch buttons on the S3’s control panel were responsive and changing the volume of the speaker was simple enough–just swipe your finger from the “-” to the “+” to increase the volume or the other way to decrease it.

The S3 also has a sensor to detect vibrations from your car door so that if left on, it will try to reconnect to your phone when you return. Since I have children in car seats, they are the first ones to enter the car. While buckling them in, I could hear the S3 blabbing about something but couldn’t quite make out what it was saying. Once I entered the car myself, I could see that the S3 and my phone had established a connection. I’m guessing that once the S3 disconnects from your phone, it goes into a power saving mode and when the sensor detects that you’ve opened the car door, it takes it out of power saving mode to reconnect. I’ll likely just turn the S3 on and off as needed, but it might be a very useful feature for those who would prefer to just leave it on for most of the day.

SOUND QUALITY
I found the sound quality to be good on both ends. The speaker got plenty loud enough to hear at highway speeds and the A2DP support allowed me to listen to music from my phone and hear GPS instructions as well. Music didn’t sound great, but it was an improvement over my phone’s speaker.

On the other end, people said that they could hear my clearly, though one person said that they could hear a slight echo. When I tested the noise cancellation, people on the other end said that they could hear some background noise, but my voice could still be heard over the noise. I rolled my driver’s side window down at about 35MPH and was told that they noticed more background noise but that my voice was still clear.

BlueAnt S3 Compact- Side View Clip
CHARGING & BATTERY LIFE
Since the S3 charges via a micro USB port, I was able to use my Motorola Droid X chargers to charge it up. It only took a few hours to completely charge it and is rated at 20 hours of talk time and an incredible 600 hours of standby; that’s over 3 weeks! I can’t think of a headset that comes remotely close to those battery times.

CONCLUSION
The BlueAnt S3 Compact is a very good Bluetooth speakerphone. It is simple to install and simple to use. Other than an FM transmitter, I can’t think of another premium feature that the S3 lacks. The feature I like most is the ability to answer and ignore calls by using my voice. In lieu of an integrated OEM phone system, the S3 Compact might just be the next best thing. Maybe even better.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review sample courtesy of BlueAnt Wireless

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