BlueAnt is one of the heavy hitters in the Bluetooth headset market and the Q2 is their latest premium headset — their follow up to the popular Q1. Aliph, Plantronics, Jabra, and Motorola all make very good headsets that most people would probably be happy with, but what grabbed my attention about the Q2 was the claim — “Smooth, Rich and Mega Loud Audio.” Again, the market leaders all make very good headsets but I’m not sure just how much better voice audio can sound than it already does. Music audio, on the other hand, could definitely use a big boost as more and more users elect to listen to music through their phones.
- Music sounds better than on any other BT headset I’ve ever used
- Sound quality for voice calls are reasonably good
- Voice controls work well
- Nice ear fit options
- Multipoint support
- A2DP support
- Bing-411 feature has questionable value
- Android app isn’t customized for the Q2
- Included carry pouch a tad too small for use with ear hook
The A2DP feature allows music and navigation instructions to be heard on devices that support it. The feature isn’t standard on all devices but is becoming more common and should be a requirement for anyone who owns an iPhone or Android smartphone. Unfortunately, most A2DP-supported devices have good voice quality but are unacceptable for music use, in my opinion. They usually sound so muffled that even with A2DP support, I typically choose to listen to music through the phone’s speaker, rather than the headset. The BlueAnt Wireless Q2 Smart Bluetooth Headset changed all that.
First and foremost, any good Bluetooth headset needs to have good voice call quality. In that regard, the Q2 passes. In most of my test calls, I was told that I could be heard clearly. Though in some rare instances, I was told that I did sound a bit muffled, but not so much that they had difficulty in understanding me. The sound quality of the caller on the other end almost always sounded fantastic and plenty loud. Oddly, there was one test call in which the person on the other end was using a Jawbone Prime headset and THEY sounded a bit muffled to me but when they switched to their handset’s mic, I could hear them clearly.
The most intriguing feature of the Q2 for me is the sound quality of music on the Q2. I came away very impressed. On my Droid X, I tested music audio using Winamp with high quality (LAME VBR) local music files, Slacker radio streams, and Amazon Cloud Player. In all my tests, the music quality sounded above average. It sounded good enough that I actually enjoyed listening to my music through the Q2 and constantly drained the battery while using it. Will it replace a good pair of earphones? No. Any reasonably good set of earphones will still sound better, but the Q2 is a mono voice-controlled headset; expectations should be set reasonably for a device like this. Without a doubt though, in my drawer of Bluetooth headsets, this is the one I choose for music listening.
It’s actually been a while since I’ve had a Bluetooth headset that was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t wear it. Then again, I try to stick to the higher-end headsets that come with different fit options and are better designed. The Q2 comes with five ear gels and an ear hook to assist in finding the best fit. I normally like to find an ear gel that I can just stick into my ear without fussing with a hook, but I found that with the Q2, I actually prefer using a slightly undersized ear gel with the ear hook. This combination affords me the best balance of comfort and sound quality. To my delight, the ear hook is actually rather easy to put on, even one-handed, with a little bit of practice. I think the fact that the ear hook is semi-rigid allows it to hook easier than one that is too flexible. Like most headsets though, I probably couldn’t leave it in all day without taking a break. It’s still the most comfortable headset I’ve ever used, thanks to not having to rely on jamming it into my ear to stay on.
VOICE CONTROLS/VOICE PROMPTS
The first time that I used a headset that had voice prompts, I was sold on the feature; I no longer had to try and decipher beeps and blinking lights (the Q2 does use a tone for a few things). The Q2 has pre-recorded male voice prompts that provide all sorts of useful information including battery and connection status. There is a female, computer-generated voice that so far, I’ve only heard when announcing the device that the Q2 is connected to. Humorously, when I connect it to my Droid X, the female voice sounds like it is saying, “ZOINKS” because it doesn’t know to separate “X” from “Droid.”
I absolutely love caller announcements and taking calls by simply saying, “answer.” The Q2 supports up to 2000 phonebook entries. Keep in mind however, that if you have multiple numbers for an individual, each number counts towards the total. In addition to being able to answer calls by voice, you can also dial by voice. How well this works is largely dependent on how well voice dialing is implemented on your phone. Unfortunately for me, voice dialing has never been the strong suit of Android phones. I’ve gotten so used to not using voice dialing that using it with the Q2 felt rather strange. You can also check the battery status, ask if you’re connected, or redial, all by voice. There are some functions that you do need to use the physical buttons for, like switching to another call or call conferencing. If you use those functions frequently enough, you’ll easily remember what button combinations you need to press to use them.
One other voice feature that the Q2 has, is the ability to access Bing-411 as a “Favorite” such as Information, Sports, Movies, Stock Quotes, Navigate, Traffic, News, and Weather. From what I could tell testing it, all it really does is call Bing-411 for you and then you go through Bing’s prompts to get the information you want. I don’t find this feature useful to me at all. I suppose if I were on a long drive and desperate for information but couldn’t pull over to look it up physically on my Droid X, I might use it.
The Q2 feels solid in my hands and the multifunction button and two volume buttons work very easily. At first, I had a problem accidentally hitting the volume up button while trying to push the multifunction button but I got over it fairly quickly. The Q2 also has an individual power switch to turn it on and off. As you might already know, I love having a separate power switch to quickly turn headsets on and off. The bummer about the power switch on the Q2 is that they designed the switch poorly and then placed it in a hard to reach place. The power switch is nearly impossible to use one-handed, while wearing the Q2. The switch is not only small, but it has a slippery, glossy surface, so be sure to turn it on before you wear it and turn it off after you take it off. Hopefully BlueAnt will refresh the design on the next version.
It takes about four hours to completely charge the Q2, which is actually quite a long time compared to some other headsets I own. Talk time is rated at 5 hours and standby at 100 hours. The Q2 uses a standard micro-USB port for charging and comes with a travel charger and a short USB charging cable.
The Q2 can read text messages for you by using a Vlingo-powered custom BlueAnt app. Unfortunately, the app was made for the Q1 and BlueAnt didn’t bother to customize it at all for the Q2. In fact, when you install it and run the app for the first time, you’ll get a notification that a new firmware is available. Disregard that message because it thinks you’re using a Q1. I personally didn’t try the text message reading feature because I don’t really text that much anymore since I can choose to chat instead using Google Talk.
While I appreciate that a travel pouch is included in the package, storing the Q2 with the ear hook is a tight squeeze. A quarter of an inch wider would’ve made a big difference. The pouch also has no padding so it only protects the Q2 from scratches and dust. It’s still better than nothing.
The BlueAnt Q2 Bluetooth headset is an advanced headset and the most advanced that I’ve ever used. It has great call quality and superior music sound quality. While the voice command features are terrific, they do come with the cost of less than ideal battery life, especially in standby. Exotic sports cars have poor gas mileage, but they’re no less desirable because of it. Good audio performance, especially for music, make up for the battery life and the questionable value of the Bing feature and Android app. I personally would like the Bing stuff removed and the Android app improved. Regardless, the Q2 is a fantastic Bluetooth headset overall and one of my personal favorites.
Available from Amazon.com.
* Review sample courtesy of BlueAnt Wireless