Late March I purchased the BlueAnt Q1 because I needed a new wireless headset for my daily commute to and from work. What attracted me to BlueAnt and this particular model in general was it’s design, size and that it’s firmware upgradable (something not common enough with other headsets). The Q1 is a very basic design with a proprietary microUSB plug for easy charging, a volume rocker and a large power button incrested with their signature glowing blue ant in the middle.
After bringing it home the first thing I did while registering with the BluAnt website was turn it on to see if it had enough power to pair with my iPhone 3GS for a quick test run. The Q1 immediately let me know it was “on” and began walking me through the steps to pair it with my iPhone. I thought this built-in audio is not only cool but makes it super easy to most people to get started. The instructions were clear with more than adequate pauses between each step for anyone to follow. As soon as it was paired the Q1 said it was connected and I was able to make calls.
Looking at the iPhone’s Bluetooth setting it was visibly written that my Q1 was running v8.15 of the BlueAnt software. The most recent version available was 8.21 putting it 3 updates behind. So I continued on to downloading the BlueAnt Firmware Updater software. On the BlueAnt website it states that it works with XP, Vista and Windows 7 but 32-bit only. Now up until this point I haven’t had any real issues with 32-bit software on my Vista (64-bit) laptop but like I said only up until this point. BlueAnt’s software seems compatible but the device drivers are definitely not and there is no way around it. So there I was with a brand new headset rendered totally useless for my streaming audio needs.
The Firmware Updater is supposed to be compatible with Vista but after multiple attempts the following day on a coworkers similar laptop but running Vista (32-bit) I found that not to be true either. Later that afternoon I ended up at my sister-in-laws house who is still running Windows XP on her desktop. There was I able to update the Q1 to the latest firmware the first time with no install issues whatsoever.
Days 14 ~ 21
Many days later since updating the Q1, everyday use has been a breeze which was no different from the day I opened the box but definitely improved sound quality. It connects quickly and streaming audio is not a hassle. Simply pressing play on your phone starts it immediately. The only downside it seems is the very low audio volume even at the maximum setting. Calls are clear and loud so I don’t understand why streaming audio is not the same. Voice commands are very clear and understandable. Using the voice command feature on the iPhone via the Q1 also worked well. Battery life is decent as I was able to listen to music and podcasts continuously for roughly 4.5 hours before the battery was completely drained. Charge time is about 1.5 hours (90 minutes) from a totally drained battery to full. So you won’t spend all day waiting to use it again. Best practice is to just charge it once you’ve reached your home or office. This way it’s always ready to go and fully charged.
The Q1 itself is light weight and doesn’t feel like it will fall out my ear at any time. It comes with 2 sizes of ear buds and an ear hook. It’s much better with the ear hook as it keeps the Q1 more stable on your ear especially with sudden movements. The included USB cord is very short making it easy to carry in a pocket. At first I didn’t like how stiff the cord was but soon realized that it was probably less prone to breaking due to regular use.
After all this I must say that I am not the least bit pleased with BlueAnt’s firmware upgrade situation. BlueAnt has no excuse as to why their drivers don’t even work with the 32-bit version of Vista at this point. Although, I have been told by a friend that once I updated the firmware, I will not have to do it again, but that isn’t entirely true. Should BlueAnt release a new firmware update I and other current users of Vista and Windows 7 will be left out in the cold. We are also left stranded if we needed to purchase a new Q1 or even receive one as a gift due to lose, theft, or damage.
Although I find the Q1 to be a good headset I can’t honestly recommend it to even the average user unless you 1) don’t require or care about A2DP (streaming audio) compatibility, 2) have readily available access to a Windows XP computer and or 3) BlueAnt updates their drivers for Vista and Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit versions) and release a Mac OS version.