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Review: BlueAnt T1 Rugged Headset

The T1 is the latest Bluetooth headset offering from BlueAnt.  Billed as a durable, reliable device to give high quality audio in the most challenging condition, the T1 is sure to turn heads.

The T1 headset ($79.95) is the first to feature BlueAnt's Wind Armour Technology that boasts clear audio in wind speeds up to 22mph. The BlueAnt T1 also features voice commands similar to the BlueAnt Q1 headset.  Instead of pressing a button to answer calls, you simply have to say "Answer" or "Ignore" to handle things. Other voice commands may be available dependent on your Windows Phone.

We had the opportunity to take the T1 out for a test drive and ease on past the break to see how it measured up.

 

Out of the Box

The T1 is being marketed as a rugged Bluetooth headset and that was my first impression when I removed the headset from its packaging. The T1 feels solidly built and feels a little beefier than other headsets on the market.

Measuring 1.97" x .6 x .9 the T1 weighs only .35 ounces, the T1 may feel a little beefy but it's still a light weight headset.  The T1 wasn't much larger than the Jawbone Icon (chunky in its own right) but isn't as contoured, contributing to that beefy feel.

Controls are well laid out with large volume buttons on the side, a multi-function button on the headsets surface and a dedicated power button on the underside.  The T1 can be worn with or without a ear hook.

The ear hook tab rests on the underside of the headset and at first, I thought it would cause discomfort because of the size. Fortunately, you don't notice the tab when wearing the headset.

The T1 is packaged with an assortment of rubber ear buds, the ear hook, micro-USB cable, AC adapter and two silicone covers designed to protect the T1 from dust, dirt, and moisture.

Additional specs on the T1 include a 3.7V Lithium Ion Battery (up to 6 hours talk/120 hours standby), up to 33 feet of coverage, A2DP compliant (stream music over it) and dual microphones.

Fit and feel

I had reservations that the T1 would weigh down my ear because of the size. Surprisingly, it fit well and was moderately comfortable to wear.  I was able to wear the T1 for about an hour before I needed to give my ear a break.

While you can wear the T1 without the ear hook, selecting the right size ear bud is important for a secure, non-hook fit. Without the ear hook, the T1 fits securely enough for typical day to day activities (walking, standing, driving, etc.). For more active situations (jogging, bicycling, hiking, rock climbing, active work environments, etc.) the ear hook is a must.

The silicone covers were a nice touch but added enough bulk to the T1 that I wouldn't use the covers without the hook. I'm not too sure how much moisture protection the covers offer but they do offer a small level of protection if you drop the headset and possibly dust protection.

Features

When you first power up the T1 it goes straight into pairing mode which has an audible tutorial that will guide you through the process. In about two minutes, you hear the T1 tell you "connected" and the T1 will attempt to download your contacts. All in all I was connected and ready to go in about four minutes.

The T1 downloads contacts from you Windows Phone to allow the headset to audibly announce the incoming caller's name. Calls from numbers not in you contact list will be announced by the incoming number. From there you can either tap the multi-function button or simply say "answer" to initiate the call or "ignore" to send it to voice mail.

Dependent on your Windows Phone's abilities, you can initiate additional voice commands such as voice dialing or launching an application. The T1 does offer other features such as redial, call hold, conference calling, and microphone mute. All of which can be controlled either by buttons or voice commands.

The BlueAnt T1 supports A2DP audio streaming which will allow you to listen to music or any other audio file on your phone. If your GPS app supports A2DP this will include turn-by-turn directions. The audio will mute automatically if you make or receive calls and will resume automatically when the call is ended.

The T1's firmware is upgradeable and the headset has multi-point capability allowing you to be paired with two phones at once.

Performance

Call quality over the T1 was very good. It easily ranks amongst the best I've experienced over the years. The ear speaker had plenty of volume and the dual microphones picked up my voice clearly.

I can't attest to the 22mph claim BlueAnt makes with their Wind Armour Technology but driving at Interstate speeds, with the windows rolled down, the microphones picked up my voice well enough to understand what I was saying. It wasn't crystal clear but good enough.  Jawbone still sets the standard for noise reduction but BlueAnt isn't too far behind.

If I had to identify a weak spot in the T1's performance it would be with voice commands. The call management commands (answer and ignore) worked well but when you move into the phone commands, performance suffers. I can't blame it all on the T1 because these commands are supported through the phone, not the headset. For example, "call voice mail" consistently resulted in the phone calling information.

Overall Impression

With respect to performance and features, the BlueAnt T1 is an impressive headset. With respect to design, it might not be for everyone.

If you're looking for a headset that you'll forget your wearing, something along the lines of the BlueAnt Q1 or Jabra Stone might be a better choice. If you're looking for something a little more rugged and don't mind the slightly larger form factor, the T1 should make your short list.

Overall, the T1 is a very good headset.  Despite it's beefy feel, the T1 was comfortable to wear but did wear on me after about 90 minutes. Audio quality is good and streaming audio is a nice bonus. I also liked the ability to use voice commands to answer or ignore calls. The other voice commands were hit and miss for me.

The T1 can be found over at the WMExperts.com Store. It's currently running $79.95

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Comments

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says:

I bought this headset recently. The phone commands work pretty well for me, though I have had a couple issues. I also have had trouble answering and ignoring calls using my voice. I've had to scream at it several times before it will answer, although I've often defected to simply pressing the button to answer calls. I just don't like having to scream "ANSWER!!!!!" to pick up a call. Hopefully, a firmware update will fix that... unless I return it for the S4 speakerphone.