My posts on the BlueAnt Z9i Bluetooth Headset and BlueAnt Z9i – Truth or Fiction? set a world record on this blog for comments, 61 and 102 respectively. Many comments were about a long-promised but delayed firmware upgrade. Others were about poor sound quality, particularly on Palm Treo headsets.
I still like my Z9i headset. However, any headset sticking in your ear starts feeling uncomfortable after a while. So I decided to try a Bluetooth speakerphone while driving.
My first speakerphone was a Jabra SP5050. It was OK. However, its sound quality, both on my end and the other end, just never seemed as good as the corresponding sound quality of a headset. Perhaps that’s because a headset is a lot closer to your mouth and ear than a speakerphone. Additionally, I found myself craning my neck towards the speakerphone to speak or hear.
The Jabra SP5050 since was “nationalized” by my wife along with a long list of my other former gadgets, including the BlackBerry Bold. For a while I did without a Bluetooth speakerphone. But recently I decided to take the plunge again. Bluetooth speakerphone sound quality supposedly has improved. Additionally, I thought I could use the gadget as a speakerphone on my business trips.
After reading a lot of reviews, I decided to purchase another BlueAnt device, the Supertooth 3 Bluetooth speakerphone. CrackBerry’s review is pretty comprehensive, and there are plenty of other reviews on the web. So instead of yet another review, let me focus on telling you what drew me to this particular Bluetooth speakerphone, and my initial impressions after two weeks of use.
The Supertooth 3 has TTS; text to speech. Speaking to it is supported but no big deal. Most modern cell phones have some form of voice command to dial numbers. However, the Supertooth 3 also speaks to you.
The fun starts when you start up the device (by holding down the green button for about 5 seconds). The device asks you if you want British English or another language. I’m an American, so I wanted American. That’s not a choice, but American English is.
After you choose your language, the device tells you to have your phone search for it. It then tells you how to pair the device to your phone (i.e., type 0000).
When I turn on the Supertooth 3, it tells me it is turning on, and then that it has (or hasn’t) found my phone. Pretty reassuring. When I turn it off, it tells me it is powering down. But I usually don’t turn it off. It seems to have a sleep mode. It also has “Automatic Vibration Sensor Reconnection.” This means when I return to my car, it senses the door opening and reconnects to my phone … and tells me it did. Very cool.
When I receive a call, the Supertooth 3 announces the incoming caller’s name (if in the device’s address book) or number (if it isn’t). I only need to say “OK” to accept the call. (You populate the device’s address book from your cell phone’s address book, which is doable even from a BlackBerry though not as automatic). To hang up, though, you have to press the end call button on the Supertooth 3 or your phone. Makes sense, given the risk that you inadvertently might utter the magic hang-up word during the course of a conversation.
According to the manual, the Supertooth 3 has a lot of other features that I haven’t even tried yet. But of course all the features in the world are meaningless if the sound isn’t good. This device sports Digital Signal Processor (DSP) technology, and the sound is loud and clear for me, and also for my listeners. And I do mean loud. I’ve had to turn the device volume down.
The Supertooth 3 seems to have a long battery life. Its charger port is Mini-USB, which means you don’t have to bring along an extra proprietary charger or cable. By the way, if its battery is low, it tells you. And it has LEDs to indicate the charge level.
The Supertooth 3 comes with a metal clip (actually two) that you can slide on to the sun-visor. You then attach the Supertooth 3 via the magnets on the rear of the device. The magnetic attachment seems more secure than via a clip as with other Bluetooth speakerphones. But with magnets, I’m not sure if I’m going to let this bad boy near any hard drive.
About the only technological bell and whistle the Supertooth 3 seems to lack is Multipoint. Multipoint enables a Bluetooth headset to be active (as opposed to merely paired) with two Bluetooth devices at the same time. By active, when a call comes in, the headset “knows” which handset is ringing and will connect to that phone automatically. (Of course, the headset can’t be so connected to two handsets at the same time). With Multipoint, I could use my BT headset (or speakerphone) to speak on phone #1, hang up, phone #2 rings, I use my BT headset to answer the call on phone #2, hang up, phone #1 rings, use the BT headset to answer that call, etc. With just pairing but no Multipoint, I have to disconnect phone #1 from the BT headset (e.g., turning off Bluetooth so it is still paired but not connected) before I can use phone #2 with the BT headset.
I would have liked the Supertooth 3 to have Multipoint, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. Particularly since, though the device lists for $129.99, it cost me only $77.99 at NewEgg 🙂