Gadgets q2_platinum

Published on February 24th, 2011 | by Greg


Bluetooth Headsets: iTech and BlueAnt

It’s a bat­tle be­tween the head­sets to­day, as a low­er-priced op­tion aimed es­pe­cial­ly at Skype us­age goes head-to-head against a prici­er but fea­ture-rich mod­el. We’ve seen our fair share of Blue­tooth gear, from small speak­er sys­tems to GPS geo­tag­ging op­tions. But head­sets re­main the most pop­u­lar use of Blue­tooth, and at CES we got wind of plen­ty of new mod­els com­ing down the pipelines. Two of the lat­est are up at the plate to­day: the i.Tech Easy­Chat 306 and the BlueAnt Q2.

We’ll let the i.Tech Easy­Chat 306 bat first. As you might ex­pect from one of the best-sell­ing head­sets from Skype, we were im­pressed by the ease-of-use and the low price point. At on­ly $45, you get not on­ly the head­set, but al­so a USB don­gle that is al­ready paired and set­up. You can just plug in the re­ceiv­er, turn on the head­set, and go, skip­ping the pair­ing is­sues that hap­pen some­times with oth­er head­sets. And there is no soft­ware to in­stall. You al­so don’t need to use their don­gle if you al­ready have one built-in to your lap­top, and you can al­so pair the head­set with your mo­bile phone eas­i­ly. The don­gle is a bit big and ug­ly though, and that de­scrip­tion cov­ers the head­set as well. The black col­or works fine, bat­tery life is de­cent at six hours, and you charge via USB as with many oth­ers. But au­dio qual­i­ty is on­ly so-so, there are no noise can­cel­la­tion fea­tures, and voic­es on both ends sound­ed a bit flat and mut­ed. Fi­nal­ly, the in­clud­ed ear loops are pret­ty poor and may not fit ev­ery­one, and the vol­ume con­trols are a bit odd thanks to the sin­gle but­ton. Over­all, it’s sim­ple, and good for those us­ing Skype and who are need of a don­gle, but the 306 is on­ly good for oc­ca­sion­al users or the tru­ly price-con­scious.

The BlueAnt Q2 head­set is dif­fer­ent in most ways- it’s sex­i­er, of­fers de­cent noise can­cel­la­tion, A2DP, and bet­ter fit op­tions that made it easy to like out of the box. Pair­ing was a snap, and we were im­pressed up­on our first call: com­pared with the Easy­Chat 306, voic­es were clear­er on our end and lis­ten­ers re­port­ed less fuzzing, hiss­ing, and wind noise. The unit looks sharp and pro­fes­sion­al, in ei­ther black or plat­inum. Two mi­cro­phones, their ‘Wind Ar­mour’ tech­nol­o­gy, and echo can­cel­la­tion mean ex­cel­lent per­for­mance, but in our tests, do drag down bat­tery life to about four hours and some­times a bit less. Al­so, you can charge it ei­ther via USB or the in­clud­ed AC adapter, though the cord is short enough to be frus­trat­ing, and charg­ing can take a long time (up to four hours or so). We should make spe­cial note of the voice ac­ti­va­tion, voice con­trols, and called ID an­nounce­ment that were fun- they don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly in­te­grate well in­to your smart­phone apps, but did work well in our case on the iPhone 4 with Vlin­go. At $70 or so avail­able wide­ly on­line, this is a great buy for one of the bet­ter all-around mid-class head­sets. It isn’t per­fect, be­tween the but­ton place­ment and some oth­er de­tails, but it held up wear against a cou­ple of drops and per­formed ex­treme­ly well in windy con­di­tions.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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