Sunday, 26 January 2014

Anker ML131 - Bluetooth Stereo Headset - Review

Today I received my Anker Bluetooth Headset in the mail and thought I would provide a review of the product.

Anker Bluetooth Stereo Headset


About Anker

I have become a fan of Anker products in recent months, and therefore, a fan of the company itself.

As well as this bluetooth headset, I also own the Anker 10,000mAh portable battery charger:

Additionally, and probably my favourite tech-related purchase of late, the Anker Multi-Angle Tablet Stand:


With Anker products, you really get the impression of a company that cares about their final article; every detail of the product is finished to a professional standard, from their trademark, sleek white packaging to the polished product within.

Typical Anker packaging


About the Packaging

I've become accustomed to the white packaging Anker use; it is minimalist and sleek. To say it is inspired by Apple would probably be an understatement.



The contents of the box include no more or less than what you might expect:
  1. The headset
  2. A USB to MicroUSB charging cable
  3. Replacement ear pieces (large and small sizes)
  4. Replacement ear hook
  5. Warranty information
  6. Instruction manual
Replacement ear pieces


Charging cable

Connecting to Phone

This process is straightforward enough for anyone who has used a bluetooth audio device before; you turn the device on and it automatically enters pairing mode since it has never paired before. In pairing mode, the LEDs on the rear flash blue and red alternatively.

video


Anker ML131 device found

Pairing in progress


Device connected

Once the device has paired, you won't have to pair again. From now on, when you turn your headset on, it will go straight into on mode, bypassing pairing mode. If you need to return to pairing mode again (to connect to a different phone/tablet for example) you should turn the device off. Then press and hold the power button; do not let go until the LEDs flash red/blue to indicate that you have entered pairing mode again.

Once connected to my Android device (Nexus 4) it gives me the option to use the device for phone calls and/or media playback.

Paired device settings

Audio Quality

The quick summary is that the audio quality is very good! I performed a few tests, mostly just by calling my landline, and testing the quality of the call from both sides; ie, testing the mic and the speaker. The quality was better than most of the bluetooth headsets I've used (and I've used quite a few now). The audio seemed crisp and clear enough.

In terms of music playback, the sound quality was OK. I can't imagine I would enjoy listening to music long through this headset as the sound quality, whilst perfectly good for voice calls, just doesn't cut it for music. If listening to music through a bluetooth headset is a priority and a main use case, you should consider spending more money on a pair of bluetooth headphones.

I will offer up the fact that I am undoubtedly not an audiophile. I do not have the ear to distinguish audio quality in the way some people have (or at least, the way some people claim to have) but for my needs, the quality offered by this device is more than adequate.

Battery Life

I haven't had a full charge/discharge cycle yet, so I can't comment on the claimed 5-6 hours continuous talk time.

Little Touches

Sometimes with these kinds of products, there can be so little to distinguish them from their competitors. Sure, the build quality of this feels a little better than most, the audio quality is a little clearer than most and the packaging a little bit nicer. On the whole, the entire product is a bit better than any competitor at this price point. 

But the extra little touch I like about this product is audio voiceover which tells you which mode you are in. Often with other handsets, I've found myself forgetting if the device is on or off. Not always convenient to remove the headset from the ear and check for blue flashing lights, your remaining option is to hold the power button in and hope to differentiate between the off beep and the on beep; sounds which are not
always different!

This Anker product however, accompanies the beeps with voice, such as "Power on", "Power off", "Phone connected" and is extra convenient for determining what your device is up to.

Overall Impression

I like this product. For its price (currently £17.99 on Amazon.co.uk) it is certainly the best quality bluetooth headset I have used. Cheap enough that it is still an impulse buy, but quality enough that it will stay in use and won't end up in your unloved gadget drawer.

Disclosure

I was supplied a sample for test and evaluation, however, this product review consists of entirely my own opinions. Any enthusiasm I display for a product is genuine, as is any hatred; I don't much like holding back either way!

Questions

If you have any questions about this product, my use of the product, this review or anything else vaguely related, comment below and I'll do my best to get you an answer.