What's the Best Affordable, Non-Dorky Bluetooth Headset?
Ah, the old Bluetooth conundrum: to look a fool and be hands-free, or to balance your touch-screen on your greasy face while driving. Well, if you must go wireless, we've got a solution for you. When looking for a new Bluetooth headset, you want something that is comfortable, provides consistent sound quality (on both ends of the line), sports a solid battery life, and won't break while it's hopping between your ears, drawers, glove compartments and pockets. BlueAnt's T1 fits the bill, and can be found for less than $60 online. Most importantly, its clean, understated design means you won't feel like a goober when it's attached to the side of your head.
The T1 is loaded with features normally reserved for higher-end headsets, and one of its finest qualities is voice control and feedback. You can tell it to read text messages aloud or announce caller names as they come, as well as direct it to answer or place calls. The device's excellent wind-noise cancellation works better than any other we've tried, which is perfect for convertible cruising. (BlueAnt says it produces intelligible audio at wind speeds up to 22-mph.) Lastly, in a headphone-less pinch, it'll even stream music from your phone.
In terms of ergonomics, the earpiece ends at a tapered silicone earbud with an attached loop that achieves a snug fit, allowing wearers to twist the bud to fit in either ear. In order to serve various ear shapes, the T1 arrives with variously sized earbuds (as well as two optional ear hooks) for a comfortable, customized experience. The already-rugged T1 also features two silicone sleeves, which can be used for added protection against rain, snow and severe weather. A sliding power switch makes turning the unit on and off quick and easy -- as opposed to the "hold for three seconds" buttons found on most headsets.
On a practical note, long-lasting battery life is essential for a Bluetooth headset; users want to feel certain their earpiece won't shut down mid-chat. Fortunately, the T1 battery provides six hours of active talk time, or 120 hours of standby -- which is certainly long enough to not have to worry about it very often.
BlueAnt has always done an excellent job simplifying the process of pairing its headsets with your phone, and the T1 is no exception. When you first turn the headset on, it immediately goes into pairing mode and uses voice prompts to guide you through the cellular linking process. The built-in "multipoint" feature allows you to connect the T1 with multiple phones if, for example, you're sharing a headset with your significant other.
And let's not mince words: it's tough not to look moronic when you're wearing a Bluetooth headset. The T1's minimal design, however, with its matte black finish and clean lines, provides a nice alternative to the chrome highlights and overzealous silhouettes often found in its competitors. All in all, it's one of the best headsets out there in terms of form and function, and its price tag is tough to beat.