A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about an accessory I had found on DealExtreme, that could be a very nice AutoVoice accessory for Tasker users. I ordered one to find out, and I picked it up earlier today. The good news is that it’s a neat little accessory, but the bad news is that it’s not really the AutoVoice accessory I had hoped.
The speaker itself is small, yet extremely loud. I don’t know how long the battery will last yet, but the volume this pumps out can’t result in a battery life of any more than a few hours at the absolute most. It’s very small, shaped like a clip, with an indicator light, mic, and button on top, and a microUSB connector on the bottom.
The device connects in what I can only assume is A2DP mode. When not on a call, the top button is actually a media play/pause button, and it will pick up the media stream from the device. While the quality of the sound coming out of this little thing obviously isn’t on par with larger portable speakers, I’m very impressed that something this small can produce that sort of sound at all. It does get tinny at max volume, but max volume is also too loud for it to sit right next to me, which says a lot. Just as a portable speaker, this thing is frankly awesome. The size and volume means that for things like audio books, radio, podcasts, and even occasional music, this thing has a lot of uses. Just imagine clipping something that’s practically unnoticeable to your belt and have it pump out sound at a volume you can hear at way lower than max volume.
Unfortunately, as an AutoVoice accessory, it has issues. The mic doesn’t seem to be able to pick up audio loud enough unless you’re very close to it, which means that you basically need to speak straight into it rather than have it pick you up from your belt or something like that. In all fairness, it’s sold as a device meant for you collar, and it does work better when clipped to that. I was able to call a friend and talk to him, though he did say that the quality wasn’t something he’d want to have to deal with for a long conversation. Since voice recognition is much stupider than a human’s ability to understand voice, the combination of quality and mic volume resulted in a lot of errors when using this with AutoVoice. Don’t get me wrong, it works sometimes, it’s just not very reliable.
Another issue when using this with voice command is that there’s a second or so delay before it starts pumping out audio. I’ve seen this with other A2DP devices as well, and it’s possible to make a workaround, so it wouldn’t have been a dealbreaker in itself, just an annoyance. The final annoyance is that since its main button is a play/pause button, you need to make Tasker grab this and act on it, rather than using AutoVoice’s ability to grab key events from normal Bluetooth headsets. The former method is less stable, and media playback apps often grab the key events for themselves.
So, when you add all of that up, you basically arrive at this: it works with anything that requires voice input if you speak right into the mic, but otherwise not. It is however an awesome little, and I do mean little, portable speaker. At $21.30 it’s a neat little accessory with a high gadget factor, and one I think I’ll get a lot of use from because it works great as a portable speaker, but it’s simply not an AutoVoice accessory.