Friday, May 22, 2009

Officially Impressed

One of my toys came in today. No, the phone isn't here yet. I have no idea even when to expect it. The MicroSD card will be a while since it's coming from Australia.

What arrived was my new Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset. My trusty Motorola H500 headset was, frankly, quite obsolete and it had started giving me trouble (okay, I threw it against the wall in frustration one night but I swear that the trouble started before that). I had been cruising eBay and had narrowed my search down to a Jawbone or a Blueant product. Mostly because I wanted a quality headset with noise reduction.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to buy the latest and greatest. First, I'm not paying that much for any headset. Second, I can't afford to pay that much. Besides, my H500 was old hat (and used) when I finally bought it.

I looked at several reviews comparing and contrasting the original Jawbone with the Blueant Z9 and the Jawbone 2 with the Blueant Z9i. One thing kept repeating. The Jawbone had superior noise reduction but the Blueant was louder. The loudness is a huge factor for me since I have some slight difficulty hearing anyway. What really tipped the scales, however, was trying on my friend's Blueant V1. It has a very similar form factor to the Z series. Plus I had read that the Jawbone had a tendency to have fit problems. So, the Jawbone was out.

After about a week of watching the auctions I finally started bidding. I actually bid on a couple of Jawbone devices but nothing came through. I ended up winning an auction (for less than what I paid for the H500) on a Z9 that was described as used, fully functional and in good cosmetic condition. What I got was a full retail box with all accessories except the manual (which was available online). It looks like it was a customer return, perhaps from someone who just didn't like it for some reason.

I charged it up and downloaded the manual and perused the quick start guide to get a feel for all of the basic functions. I paired it with my phone and called time and temperature. First impression: Damn this thing is LOUD! I generally have to set headsets to maximum to get a comfortable listening level. For the first time with any bluetooth headset I've ever used, I had to turn it down. And not just a notch or two. I'd say it's down to about 50-60% of max volume.

Despite having an earbud-style earpiece (think iPod headphones), the fit is pretty good. The device sits tightly on my head and is held securely in place by the plastic earloop. It's lightweight and easy to wear. The only problem I've found is that the hard plastic wears on the top of my ear pretty easily. It's a tight loop so I doubt putting moleskin on the inside of it for padding would be very effective. I think there are third-party loops available. I know there are different eargels available so we'll see how all of that goes.

Want to hear what a difference the noise reduction makes? Have a listen to these two wav files:

Motorola H500 (no noise reduction capabilities)

Blueant Z9

p.s. The comment I made about the Z9 not connecting has been corrected. I had to set it as the primary handsfree device on my phone - operator error.

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