It's nice to see good design and craftsmanship trickle down from the high end of the price spectrum to less expensive models. Increasingly I find that the headsets in the $40-50 range offer the most bang for the buck. Since the same companies that make the top headsets are the ones who make the budget models, it's often the case that the features in their flagship products are only months away from being within reach of the unwashed masses. Let's see if Blueant's T8 Micro Bluetooth Headset is a good case in point.
A Peek in the Box
So what do your 40 clams get you?
- The T8 headset
- A wall charger
- Two replacement eargels
- A nylon ear cushion
- An earhook
- The manual
A pretty standard assortment. Like many more expensive headsets, it can only be charged through the wall charger â no USB or car chargers. On the other hand, the charger plugs directly into the headset, unlike some models that require a case or cradle to pass the charge. In return for the lack of charging options, you get an impressive nine-hour life from the T8's lithium polymer battery, not to mention 250 hours of standby time.
Design and Operation
If you like modest doses of design flash, the T8 is right on target. When the indicator lights are blinking, the headset looks like a futurist trilobite from Minority Report. The indicators are semicircular insets on either edge of the headset's teardrop design, and double as volume buttons. Unfortunately, these buttons require significant pressure, which is annoying when the headset is on your ear. The multifunction talk button positioned behind the center of the teardrop also has an indicator. This button works with only a reasonable amount of pressure.
At just under half an ounce, the T8 is designed to be worn without an earhook, which works reasonably well with moderate motion. It would probably work better if the headset's body wasn't pitched about 45 degrees away from the ear, since the arm of the earphone doesn't offset the angle. I still found using the earhook more reassuring and comfortable.
The indicators glow red when charging, then turn off when charged. In standby mode, they blink blue once every four seconds. When you turn on the headset for the first time, it automatically enters pairing mode, alternately blinking red and blue, connecting with the usual four-zero passkey.
Blueant boasts that the T8 can connect to up to 8 devices. Since I only have one phone and my laptop lacks Bluetooth, the advantage is lost on me, but it would be interesting to see if this could be used for Skype, since headset and handsfree profiles are supported.
Since Blueant is Australian, the T8's multifunction talk button has some minor operational differences from US norms. For instance to redial the last number dialed, you press and hold the talk button for two seconds rather than just tap it. One feature that's not extremely common is a night driving mode to turn off the presumably distracting indicators, done on this headset by simultaneously pressing both volume buttons while in standby mode.
The T8 features ambient noise reduction, which would imply better sound quality. While the noise reduction does, in fact, mitigate external noise, it doesn't mitigate internal distortion, either for incoming or outgoing sound. For instance, dial tones are accompanied by a crackling sound that's pretty representative of the overall audio experience, unfortunately.
The T8 is a very stylish headset with excellent build quality and a long battery life. It's one of those products that just look like they're going to deliver something impressive. But the sound quality is a less than stellar, so if that's your primary consideration, you may want to think twice.
Sleek industrial design
Very comfortable to wear
Long battery life
Supports headset and handsfree modes
|Poor sound quality
Stiff volume buttons
Uneven weight distribution without earhook