BlueAnt X5 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
- Convenient, Good call quality
- Poor music quality, Flimsy design
The X5 is a functional Bluetooth headset that does what it claims, but is really let down by poor quality audio, making it hard to recommend as a replacement for your current pair of headphones.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
As devices converge, digital music is becoming more and more prolific. In turn this is leading to the creation of other hybrid devices such as Blueant's X5 Stereo Headset, which combines the traditional hands free kit with a pair of stereo headphones. Several such products exist on the market, and while their usefulness cannot be denied it often seems like manufacturers have to sacrifice quality to cram in all the functionality they require. The X5 operates quite well on a headset level, but really struggles to provide a satisfying audio experience.
The goal with this product was clearly to provide a portable solution for those who use multimedia or smart mobile phones. The headphones themselves act as a Bluetooth headset, with an attachable USB microphone, and can be used standalone as long as your phone supports Bluetooth Media Streaming. You can also use the included Bluetooth receiver to connect to a PC, iPod or other headphone jack, which in turn pairs with the headphones.
It is a fairly convenient setup, allowing you to switch seamlessly from music to mobile calls without ever picking up the phone. The headset offers basic functionality; play, stop and volume controls, but these buttons can be used for a variety of tasks including answering and ending calls. We found it operated very well and the design is quite intuitive.
Call quality was above average, with inbound audio loud and clear and outbound audio suffering no noticeable distortion from the Bluetooth connectivity. However we cannot say the same for the quality of the audio when connected to an MP3 player. With no real definition between the different ranges of music, everything sounds veiled, as if listening to music through several pieces of cloth. Perhaps we're just spoilt with high-end headphones, but we felt the X5 was lacking in this regard.
Furthermore, we found one strange feature about the design of the Bluetooth receiver - it has a magnetic base. While it isn't particularly powerful and may not cause a problem, we were less than enthused by the idea of leaving any sort of magnet next to a hard drive based device, and we'd be hestitant about carrying this around in our pocket for prolonged periods.
Pairing with a phone was a simple process, and the Bluetooth signal was picked up in no time. The design is fairly comfortable, but the lack of padding on the headband over long periods of time means your ears began to ache. The design is also rather flimsy. There are several hinges on the back and sides to enable the unit to fold up, but these are points of weakness and our demo model was already showing signs of bending at these joints.
The X5 supports Bluetooth version 1.2 as well as the AVRCP and A2DP standards. We found the quoted battery life of twelve hours to be a little generous, and needed to recharge after about eight hours of playback. It uses two detachable batteries that can be recharged via a USB connection.
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