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Reviews

BlueAnt X3 Micro Bluetooth Headset

By Legacy October 2, 2006, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

Let's face it, some phones are not meant to be held against your face. Size aside, who wants oily residue on their screen? Also, in some countries (plus some states within the US), it is now illegal to drive while talking on a cell phone unless the driver is using some type of hands-free kit. These factors, coupled with the availability of Bluetooth in today's mobile phones, has led to a rise in the production of Bluetooth headsets. As more headsets enter the market, the technology has also seen changes: smaller, lighter, longer battery life. Does smaller, lighter, longer = better? How about call quality? Is it compromised? Read on as we test a new arrival: the BlueAnt X3 Micro.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

WHAT'S HOT

This item has "Ant" in the title for a reason: it's small. It's hardly noticeable when worn, and slips easily into a pocket when not in use. Even for such a small package, it packs a large number of features, including the ability to pair with three different devices. This all doesn't mean much though if you can't hear the other person clearly. How did the BlueAnt perform? One word, outstanding.

I've tried several other BT headsets, and found audio quality to be either hollow or a bit scratchy. The X3, however, sounds like I'm using my handset directly.

Here's a summary of the features found within the X3 Mirco package:

  • Talk time 7 hours, standby 180 hours
  • Weight 13 grams (0.46 oz)
  • High Quality Full Duplex Headset
  • Bluetooth 1.2
  • Ability to switch off all LED lights (yay!)
  • Can be paired with up to three devices
  • Multi Function Button improves simplicity
  • Out-of-the-box car/wall/pc charging options
  • Fast charging
Bluetooth HeadsetTalk Time / Standby (hours)Weight (grams / ounces)Approx Street Price
BluAnt X3 Micro7 / 18013.0 / 0.46$50
Logitech Mobile Express4 / 25014.2 / 0.50$40
Bluetrek X214 / 50015.0 / 0.59$50
Tekkeon ezTalker ET3000 5 / 12025.0 / 0.90$60
Jabra JX10 6 / 30010.0 / 0.35$140
Southwing SH3106 / 30011.0 / 0.38$60
Motorola H30030 / 70025.0 / 0.88$50
Plantronics Discovery 64015 / 3009.00 / 0.32$80
Movon MF2005 / 15015.0 / 0.53$115
Logitech Mobile Traveller7 / 30014.2 / 0.50$80
Southwing SH3056 / 30011.0 / 0.38$55
Gennum nXZEN Plus7 / 10017.0 / 0.54$150
Bluetake BT400 G5 5 / 25020.0 / 0.71$40
Nextlink Bluespoon 5G 2 / 1005.85 / 0.21$250
Nextlink Bluespoon AX28 / 100010.0 / 0.35$80
Nextlink Bluespoon AX4 / 20012.0 / 0.42$60

In comparison to other headsets we've reviewed, the X3 mico is among the lightest.

SETUP

Pairing via Bluetooth was a painless exercise. Once the handset was set to "discoverable" the X3 was immediately recognized. One small point to note: the pass-code was 1234 rather than the usual 0000. The first time the X3 boots up out of the box it defaults to discoverable mode, a handy feature. Successive pairs require pressing and holding the "+" button, then just pressing the main Multi Function Button (MFB) once, twice, or three time depending on what device you wish to connect to.

Above is a shot of my MDA recognizing the X3 headset.

The connection wizard walks the user through the pairing process. Pass code is "1234", not "0000".

Once the device is paired, services must be selected. "Hands Free" is the service used by BT headsets.

Here's a look at the successfully paired headset next to the MDA.

Pairing via PC is a similar process, you can use the BlueAnt to perform VoIP calling (Skype) provided your PC supports the headset or hands free profile. Given the X3 can be paired with up to three devices, my phone and my PC were able to both be paired.

Here's the PC pairing wizard. Unless you have changed the pass code, it will be "1234" here also.

Here's the X3 Micro listed in my bluetooth neighborhood.

PRODUCT FEATURES

In the box is the X3 micro headset, a USB charging cable, a car charger adapter for the USB charging cable, a user guide, a removable ear hook, a soft gel earbud cover, two foam earbud covers, and a neck strap.

The above shot will give you some idea of the size.

The charging solution is an interesting one. Rather than provide the user with a cable, the charger cord is a flexible rod. It can be shaped to fit in different directions, and is strong enough to hold the device upright. It can be plugged into the included car/wall adapters, or directly into a PC/Mac usb port.

The charging cable is a flexible rod (shown above) which plugs into the included wall/car adapters, or a PC/Mac

The Multi Function Button (MFB) seems to be the launch pad for the main features. This answers/makes/ends/rejects calls, plus disconnects and reconnects the headset. Pressing and holding the MFB also turns the headset on and off. You can also turn off all LED activity by pressing the MFB shortly five times.

Speaking of LEDs, the BlueAnt certainly has no shortage. Two blue flashes indicate the unit it turning on, two red for off. Red/blue alternating flashes indicate the device is in pairing mode. It blinks once every four seconds in standby, then three times every four seconds when talking (slow flash vs fast flash). Charging will light the red LED, which goes out when charging is complete. There's also a purple LED, which will light during incoming calls, or briefly when the device is being reset.

Volume is controlled via the "+" and "-" indicators forward and aft of the MFB. Simple to locate, and volume is incremented or decremented immediately upon button press.

In terms of miscellaneous bits and pieces (along with the chargers), the unit ships with a lanyard, two spare foam ear piece covers and a gel cover. Personally, I found the gel cover to be the most comfortable. It also ships with a spare ear hook, also removable. Overall, I found the size and shape of the ear hook very comfortable, and in no way painful like some headsets I've tried. I could image wearing this for extended periods of time without any problems. If you are not moving around too much, you can also remove the ear hook and use the device without it.

HELP SUPPORT

The unit ships with both a quick start guide and a manual. Their website also has both documents should you misplace them. Their site is very comprehensive, and has everything a user should need in terms of product support.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The BlueAnt X3 Micro is compatible with any Bluetooth device that supports the headset or hands free profile. A compatibility chart is available on their website.

BUGS AND WISHES

There's not much left to desire… This is an award winning all-round-great product that does an outstanding job. Yes there are a lot of LEDs, but they can easily be de-activated. The only possible improvements I can see would be to include a standard USB mini port for charging. This would negate the need to tote around the flexi cable. I would also recommend using the ear hook unless you are in a static environment; walking around without it may dislodge the headset if you are not using the included gel cover.

PURCHASING

Pricegrabber has this for under USD $50.00 (one site is even listing it as low as $37). Amazon list it for just over USD$50.00.

Pros

  • Can be paired with up to three devices
  • Seven hours talk time
  • Small, compact design

Cons

  • Must use flexicable to charge (via USB, wall or car)
  • May become loose without ear hook

OVERALL IMPRESSION

The Bluetooth headset market is competitive. To improve the chances of survival, a product must innovate, or provide a large number of features at low cost. The X3 is an outstanding item with a broad spectrum of features, within an innovative design. It's small, charges quickly, lasts for long periods on a charge, and demonstrates consistently high call quality across a range of environments. For anybody looking to replace a lost or damaged headset, new users, or for someone simply wanting to upgrade, this device won't disappoint.

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