Bluetooth Headset and Car Kit Reviews
BlueAnt Z9 Bluetooth Headset
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BlueAnt is Australia’s largest supplier of Bluetooth peripheral devices. They made an impressive entrance to the US market by introducing the BlueAnt Z9 headset and several Bluetooth car kits and Bluetooth stereo headsets early this year. The BlueAnt Z9 is the latest product in the company’s Bluetooth headset portfolio, and BlueAnt incorporated several new technologies into the Z9’s small form. The Z9 headset has Bluetooth v2.0, dual microphones and has BlueAnt’s Voice Isolation Technology built-in. The Bluetooth headset can be paired with 3 devices and offers different ringtones and common call management features. Though the headset is small, the voice quality is very good when working with Sony Ericsson, Nokia and HTC phones and smartphones. You can even upgrade the firmware via USB as this is the Z9 version 1. The BlueAnt Z9 comes with 2-year replacement warranty and sells for $99.95 list.
The BlueAnt Z9 has a modern clean design and is very comfortable to wear. Measuring in at 1.5 x 0.69 x 0.44 inches, the BlueAnt is in the “small body league” with the SouthWing SH-440 and Samsung WEP-200. The front face of the headset is in smooth black without any visual interruptions. You will find only the white multi-function button that’s well integrated into the front cover and the LED light behind the button. On the right side of the headset you will find two volume buttons: the top one is volume up and the bottom one is volume down. And on the left side you will find two microphone holes for capturing your voice. The small charging port sits on the arm that secures the earpiece to the back of the headset, and the clip that holds the earhook also acts as a shirt/tie clip.
The Z9 is also very light in weight (0.35 ounces) and the clear plastic earhook makes it comfy to wear the headset throughout a day. The earpiece extends into the ear canal, as do most Bluetooth headsets. The BlueAnt Z9 comes with 3 earhooks in different sizes and they work with either ear.
The BlueAnt logo LED light not only looks elegant, but also provides charging and battery status, pairing mode, reset mode and more. The LED area is big enough to see even when your finger is on top of it to press the button and is visible in outdoor light as well.
The BlueAnt Z9 supports both Headset and Hands-Free profiles and can store pairing info for up to 3 phones. You can only use the headset with one phone at a time, but you can re-connect paired devices without having to re-pair them again. If you pair the headset with more than 3 phones, the older pairing partners will get bumped off the list of stored phones. We paired the headset with a dozen phones and it paired with all easily. We did experience a bug several times where the headset wouldn’t go into pairing mode, but a reset (press the multifunction, volume up and volume down buttons together) fixed the problem. To pair the headset, first turn it off, then press and hold the multifunction button until it flashes blue rapidly. Then you can use your phone to find the headset and enter the default pass code “0000” to pair and connect with the headset.
The BlueAnt supports a good number of call management functions including last number redialing, conference calling, call waiting, call rejecting and mute of a call. All functions worked well in our tests, though having just three buttons to perform these functions took some remembering. Perhaps this is why BlueAnt provided a credit card sized quick reference card for your wallet. The BlueAnt Z9 has Voice Isolation technology and when you turn it to the max you should have better outgoing voice quality in noisy locations. In our tests though, the phones that performed well with the headset didn’t need the max level for clear outgoing voice. But the max level didn’t noticeably improve phones that did need some help with voice quality.
In our tests, the headset had good voice quality with most Sony Ericsson phones, HTC devices (HTC Advantage and AT&T Tilt) and Nokia phones (Nokia E90 and 6120 Classic). Incoming and outgoing voice had clarity and loud volume with these phones. We also tested the Z9 with the Motorola Z6tv and a Treo smartphone which did give the headset some trouble.
When working with Sony Ericsson K850i
The BlueAnt liked most Sony Ericsson phones and performed well with them, the Sony Ericsson K850i was no exception. Voice on both incoming and outgoing ends was clear and loud without any noticeable artificial noises or distortion. The DSP worked equally well and reduced most road noise and wind noise. Range was also good, reached at about 20 feet before we could hear any distortion or crackling.
When working with Motorola MOTORIZR Z6tv
Both incoming and outgoing voice were a little murky and lacked clarity on the BlueAnt Z9, though volume was high. The road noise level was low via the BlueAnt thanks to an effective DSP but wind noise reduction was minimal: our call recipients could hear the gentlest breeze that could barely be called wind. Turning the voice isolation to max didn’t help any because it scrambled our voice as well as the wind noise. The range was about 10 feet and voice dialing worked like a charm.
When working with the Treo 755p
The voice quality was a little worse on the Treo 755p than on the MOTORIZR Z6tv. Incoming and outgoing voice were muddier, and there was some artificial noise that was more noticeable as well. Road noise was also louder and light wind generated almost unbearable outgoing noise through the headset when making calls on the Treo 755p. If you expect to make calls outdoors where there might be any wind, the BlueAnt isn’t a good choice with the Treo 755p. The range was better than the Motorola Z6tv, and reached nearly 20 feet when working with the Treo.
When working with the Samsung Juke
The tiny Samsung Juke worked decently with the BlueAnt. Though voice didn’t have a lot of clarity, the slightly muffled sound wasn’t the headset’s fault. The volume was very high, but enough to hear and be heard with road noise. The DSP worked pretty well too. We could still hear cars passing along with wind noise, but at a very reduced level and not as noticeable as on the Treo or the Motorola.
The BlueAnt Z9 has a rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery and you can charge it with the included world AC charger. You can get 4-5 hours of talk time, which is pretty good for a small Bluetooth headset. The standby time is about a week. When you charge the headset, the LED will turn steady red. And when the headset is fully charged the LED will turn off.
We really liked the BlueAnt Z9 when we used it with several Sony Ericsson, Nokia and HTC phones. We’d recommend it to anyone with these phones who wish to have a small Bluetooth headset. We liked it until we tried the Motorola Z6tv, the Treo 755p and the Samsung Juke. The voice quality dropped significantly and noise level went up dramatically with these three phones. The overall experience in terms of size and comfort is very good, and we liked the clean and elegant design. The Voice Isolation technology worked well on some phones where you never needed to adjust the levels, but didn’t work well on the phones that showed high noise levels. The generous warranty policy is a plus along with the ability of updating the firmware. We did find a bug where the headset won’t go into pairing mode until we had to reset it.
The BlueAnt Z9, world AC charger, USB cable for future firmware update, 3 earhooks, User Manual and quick start guide.
-Profiles supported: Headset Profile and Hands-Free Profile v1.0.
-Claimed talk time: 5.5 hours of talk time.
-Claimed standby time: Up to 200 hours.
-Headset size: 1.5 x 0.69 x 0.44 inches.
-Headset weight: 0.35 ounces. (10 grams).
-Battery: 3.7V Lithium Polymer.
-AC adapter: 100-240v.