Bluetooth connections are relatively stable these days (though still not bulletproof). As a result, headset vendors are searching for new ways to distinguish their products, with everything from noise-canceling circuitry to VoIP compatibility. With the V12, BlueAnt includes a nifty LCD with caller ID and a built-in vibration feature. Unfortunately, the headset is uncomfortable and doesn't have the best sound quality.
The V12 isn't particularly large or heavy, given the backlit, 12-digit display. It comes with two different-sized ear clips, along with a cloth neck chain and a small AC charger. No matter how we tried to fit the V12 to our ears, the unit's hard plastic ear loop and earbud never felt quite right and became irritating within a few minutes. The V12 always hung slightly away from the face, but the ear clip kept the unit from falling off completely.
A more serious flaw didn't show itself until we powered up the V12: a low-volume, ever-present hiss that sounded like radio static or the high-pitched hum of a television set. At first we thought it was interference from the LCD, but after disconnecting a call, the hiss disappeared while the LCD remained on for a few extra seconds. We also heard clicks when we adjusted the volume and whenever the unit woke up and shut down. We suspected this was an anomaly with only our test unit, so we requested a second one. Unfortunately, the problem persisted. The hiss occurred only when the volume was near the max, but that's pretty much all the time, since the V12 isn't that loud.
Sound quality was nothing to write home about, either. The V12 sounded tinnier than our reference Plantronics Voyager 510. Lacking noise-canceling circuitry, the V12 also disappointed in a windy outdoor test. Under those conditions, other callers strained to make out what we were saying.
Moving past the V12's several flaws, we found some things to like. The unit boots and connects very quickly. And it lasted 6 hours and 48 minutes on a charge, a decent result, even if BlueAnt's claim of 12 hours proved wildly optimistic. The caller ID and built-in vibration are useful if you hang the headset around your neck, because you can leave the ringer off and glance at it before taking the call. Of course, if you prefer to wear your headset on your ear all day, the display is useless.
The V12 is not bad if you use the neck chain, but in general we recommend a model from Jabra or Plantronics with better sound quality.
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