BlueAnt's T1 Rugged Bluetooth Headset is state of the art in hands-free technology. As its name suggests, this headset is built to last - a claim supported by a two-year hardware warranty. It comes with a handful of practical features, and is one of the most advanced headsets on the market.
The stylish T1 is lightweight and compact, with a smooth yet somewhat angular appearance that keeps the device's dual mics close to your face. Unlike its brother, the BlueAnt Q2, which has an obvious ear clip, the T1 headset comes with a clear, flexible hook (plus a spare in the box) that's inconspicuous in use. An earpiece sits inside your ear, optimising call quality and helping to secure the device in place. Various sized ear 'gels' are provided in the box to ensure a snug fit, along with two soft silicon sleeves that are particularly good at protecting the charging port from dust and moisture and the device itself when thrown in a pocket or bag.
A small indicator light flashes when the device is turned on, letting you check its status in the rearview mirror without first removing the headset. Also on the device are volume controls and a multifunction button, plus a speaker bar that conceals twin mics.
Such devices are often prone to interference from background noise, but the BlueAnt uses dual microphones and voice-isolation technology to achieve clear calls. Wind Armour technology can also cancel out noise in up to 22mph gusts.
Text-to-speech is a clever feature, making this headset ideal for use when driving. It requires you to first pair the headset with your smartphone and transfer your contacts, a process that can also be initiated by holding down the multifunction button on the headset for three seconds. Thereafter, the T1 is able to announce the name of a contact calling you, and allows you to call others simply by pressing the multifunction button and stating their name. Calls can also be ignored with a simple voice command, which is ideal for busy moments when taking a call is impractical. Mute and hold functions are invoked using the volume buttons. Up to two handsets can be paired with the T1 simultaneously.
Ideal for use with Android smartphones, a free application can be used with the headset to read aloud incoming text messages. A2DP streaming technology also lets you listen to music stored on your handset or follow navigation instructions from a GPS application.
Once fully charged, BlueAnt claims the headset can last for up to six hours of talk time and five days in standby mode. A 'Check battery' voice command lets you check the battery level on-demand. Unfortunately, the firm supplies only a two-pin mains charger, although a microUSB cable lets you charge up the headset via a computer. This can also be used to apply firmware upgrades when available, which can potentially improve existing features and add new ones.
With a £49 RRP, the BlueAnt T1 sits at the pricier end of the market for bluetooth headsets. However, it's packed with features and offers good value for money. It's also more affordable than the £69 Q2 headset and, according to the company, more durable too.