When we first looked at the BlueAnt V1 in 2008, we were very impressed by the headset's voice user interface, making it the first voice-controlled Bluetooth headset we've ever tried. (BlueAnt has since replaced it with the BlueAnt Q1.) It would make sense that another company would attempt a similar interface, which seems to be the case with Powercam's BlueFox Extreme BF-301v. Indeed, the BF-301v headset has a voice recognition interface that lets you control a variety of features, one of which is the ability to voice search via Microsoft's Bing service. Combined with A2DP and great audio quality, the BF-301v is quite a steal at only $65 if you buy it online.
The BlueFox Extreme BF-301v is not a compact headset. In fact, it's quite a big one by today's standards. Measuring 2.4 inches long by 0.87 inch wide by 0.51 inch thick, the BF-301v is rectangular and bulky with a rather staid design. It's housed in a black plastic chassis and two-thirds of its front surface is covered in silver. On the front is an LED indicator located above the multifunction button. Though the button is small, it is raised above the surface so it presses easily. The volume rocker is on the right side.
On the back is the earpiece, which is clad in an earbud gel. The BF-301v comes with six different ear gel options with different loops and shapes for a more customized fit. There's also a large ear hook that can be rotated to fit either ear. We found the overall fit to be quite uncomfortable--the ear hook is not very flexible, so it took us a while to fit it properly, and once we got it on, it felt like our ear was being clamped down. On the upside, this means the fit is very secure. On the downside, this could definitely lead to ear fatigue if worn for long periods of time.
The key feature of the BF-301v is the voice recognition interface. We paired the BF-301v with the Apple iPhone 3G just by turning it on, pressing the button, and saying "Pair mode" into the mic. It will then instruct you to turn on the Bluetooth on your phone and will walk you through the pairing process. Like with the BlueAnt headsets, there is no need for a voice recognition tutorial--it recognizes your voice immediately. We were impressed with the voice control interface on the whole. You do need to press the multifunction button every time you want to give a voice command.
To find out all the available commands, you can ask "What can I say?" You can also ask "Am I connected?" and the headset will let you know if the headset is connected to your phone, and it'll even let you know how many bars of network signal strength you have. To answer a call you can say "Answer" and to reject a call you can say "Ignore." As a nice bonus feature, you can also say "Call information," which will prompt the headset to call Microsoft Bing's information service. You can then use Bing to find out about local businesses, restaurants, or any sort of information you might like.