Monday, December 15, 2008

BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Put to the Test

The latest incarnation of BlueAnt's Supertooth Bluetooth speakerphone, the Supertooth 3, is finally available in Canada. The main difference between this model and its predecessor, the Supertooth Light, is the addition of text-to-speech, which will actually dictate instructions and status, as well as who's calling. Being a fan of past BlueAnt products, I decided to take one out for a test drive to see whether this feature was worth the upgrade.

First, the look. At first glance, it appears the Supertooth 3 is designed almost identically to the Supertooth Light. However, there are a few subtle differences, like the 3's rounded edges vs. the Light's boxy look, and a more seamless integration of the side-mounted volume controls. The biggest difference aesthetically, however, is that the 3 does not have a pop out microphone like the Light: the mic is built right in, which I was initially a bit worried about. How would audio quality fare? (More on that later). As you can tell from the photo above (the 3 is on the left), both models are quite prone to pesky fingerprints. But since it's likely to be placed on your car's visor via a magnetic clip most of the time (unless you're charging it, or using it as a desktop speakerphone), than this really isn't a dealbreaker.

Then, comes the biggest advancement: text-to-speech. Upon power up, the unit instantly began speaking to me. What language would I like? I selected British English, only because the speaker's voice seems much more interesting than American English. Aside from these two options, you can also select French, Italian, Spanish, or German.

Now it's time to pair the device with my phone, the process of which is explained in detail by my new British gal pal. Once I initiate a connection between the Supertooth 3 and my BlackBerry Bold, it's time to sync contact information: after all, how else is she supposed to know who's in my phone book? The process wouldn't work automatically (this is only supported by certain phones), but the quick start guide succinctly explains how to initiate the sync manually with a BlackBerry (Options -> Highlight Device -> Transfer Contacts). It took a few minutes to complete the transfer of 100 or so contacts, but the device informed me every 15 seconds or so as to the status (20 contacts transferred, 40 contacts transferred, and so on). Follow this same process any time you update your phone's address book and want to subsequently update the listings in your Supertooth 3 as well. Then, it was off to the car!

While pronounciation of some caller's names was slightly off, the ability to hear who's calling is pretty cool. As an added bonus, you can also answer calls literally without lifting a finger: just say "OK" and begin conversing. If the caller isn't someone in your phone book, the unit will actually read out the phone number so that you at least have an idea of who it might be.
If you'll use the text-to-speech function often, it might be worth your while to list contacts by easily-pronounced nicknames or, with difficult monikers, to spell them phonetically in your phone book to ensure the correct annunciation.

So we've established that the text-to-speech feature is neat, but how useful is it? Many people have their cells docked on the dash or vent where they can easily see the incoming caller information. I often drive with the cell in my lap so I'm able to check e-mails at red lights (and only red lights, I swear!) Still, being able to avoid peaking downward to see who's calling, along with the ability to vocally accept a call can help to aid in safe driving.

But there's still the most important facet of any Bluetooth device to consider: sound quality. With the Supertooth 3, it was fantastic. My partner, who often complains when I call him using various Bluetooth devices, some of which aren't very favourable, was completely unaware that I was even using a speakerphone. It helps, of course, to situate the unit on the left side of your car's visor, with the built-in mic facing you. From my end, contacts sound crystal clear; just as good, if not better, than when chatting with my Supertooth Light.

Bottom line: if you already have the Supertooth Light, you'll get the same great sound quality and ease of operation with the 3. Upgrading will be solely dependent on your need (or want!) of text-to-speech which, in my experience, works very well. But if you're in the market for your first Bluetooth speakerphone, this model is certainly one of the best options out there that I've tried. And at about $150, it's reasonably priced. But if you're on a budget and aren't completely sold on the need for text-to-speech, the Light, while still available, is a great alternative, and can be found for anywhere from $80-$120.

The Supertooth 3 can be purchased today at a number of retailers, including The Source by Circuit City, The Telephone Booth, and WirelessWave, as well as Bell, Fido, Rogers, and Telus store locations.

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Anonymous said...

Have you found a way to have the BB Bold link to the BlueAnt automatically when you get into your car? I find that I have to do this manually each time.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yes, this has to do with your BlackBerry settings. You should be able to change it so that it automatically connects whenever you come within reach of the Supertooth. The next time you get in your car, a pop up message should appear on your phone asking if you want to allow automatic connection from now on. Just say yes.