Look Ma, No Hands!
By Kenny Yeo
Drivers will certainly agree that one of the more annoying things that can happen while driving, apart from inconsiderate drivers, are incoming calls. It's distracting and what's more, it is an offense to use the mobile phone while you are driving. Fortunately, BlueAnt has the S1 Bluetooth handsfree car kit, which promises handsfree communication while driving.
In typical BlueAnt fashion, the design of the S1 Bluetooth car kit is simple and sparse. The unit is about as large as an iPhone, but slightly thicker. At the back, the S1 Bluetooth car kit has a large clip, allowing it to secure itself onto vehicles' sun visors. Its front profile is dominated by a large speaker, while the microphone is located near the front top right-most corner. Elsewhere, all the buttons which control the unit are located at the top of the unit.
The design is all well and good, but if there was one thing we dislike, it was that there's no clear and easy way of finding out its status. Users have to decipher the Bluetooth light that flashes in the middle of the unit and that's like trying to read light signals from boats. We had to constantly refer to the manual to decipher the lights.
Fortunately, once you get over the rather confusing task of setting up the BlueAnt S1 Bluetooth handsfree car kit, everything else becomes a breeze. There are two ways to answer incoming calls. You can either manually press the green multi-function button, or alternatively, enable the voice answer feature and answer calls simply by speaking aloud, "Accept", "OK" or "Answer" to the S1 unit. This is a great feature especially for users driving manual transmission cars, but oddly, we noticed that there are no voice commands to reject calls.
The S1 Bluetooth handsfree car kit comes with full DSP noise and echo cancellation and the overall voice quality was rather decent. On certain occasions, we experienced sudden break ups in our conversation, but such occurrences were not frequent and mostly, the voice quality was crystal clear. In our tests, we also found that the S1's noise cancellation did a fairly good job of blocking out background noises.
If your phone supports Bluetooth AD2P profile, you can also stream music to the S1 Bluetooth handsfree car kit. This is one way of playing music from your phone if there's no way to integrate it with your car's stereo, but don't expect too much in terms of audio quality.
All things considered, the BlueAnt S1 Bluetooth handsfree car kit is a very capable performer. Thanks to the S1's truly handsfree operation, drivers can now concentrate on the road and still be able to take calls with minimum distraction. This, coupled with its outstanding voice quality, makes it a winner in our books. Its ability to stream music is an added bonus. The BlueAnt S1 will be only be available sometime next month and will be priced at S$149.