First Look: The Nokia BH-905i Bluetooth Headset

I received the Nokia BH-905i headset from WOMWorld/Nokia for a two-week trial along with the Nokia C7. I was excited about this gizmo because it was a wireless headset that promised great audio. After suffering through one too many twisted cords, I appreciate gadgets that have the nerve to cut the cord. The BH-905i is a wireless headset that uses Bluetooth technology to connect with your computer, smartphone or other device that supports it. This article will cover the aspects of the Nokia BH-905i headset that I enjoyed and will point out some concerns.

  1. Construction: This criterion concerns the build and how the device feels.
  2. Battery Life: This item concerns how well the device holds up before a recharge is needed.
  3. User Friendliness: How intuitive is using the Nokia BH-905i headset and how painless is setting up the device.
  4. Sound Quality: How well does the Nokia BH-905i device do its stated job of being an audio device.

Construction

The Nokia BH-905i headset ships in a slightly intimidating “shell” of a case. The casing is sturdy and protective; rightfully so as this baby costs a cool $199. Within this case, you’ll find, in addition to the actual headset, a smaller case that contains several accessories: charger, carrying case, user guide, and dizzying array of cables and adapters. From NokiaUSA‘s page about the BH-905i’s specifications, here are the adapters bundled with this headset:

  1. 3.5 mm Nokia AV connector
  2. 3.5 mm iPhone compatible AV connector
  3. Audio cable
  4. Supporting adapters for:
    • 2.5 mm Nokia AV connector
    • Standard 3.5 mm jack
    • Standard 6.3 mm jack
    • Standard airplane jack
    • Adapter for VoIP calls

I really liked the soft pads on the headset which helped muffle outside sounds. Symbian World conducted a review of these headphones and they also gave high marks to the Nokia BH-905i for its sturdy construction. I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the headset felt. The headset is also adjustable and feels quite very solid when on my head, only plagued by the occasional slip-off because of the weight (Flickr Gallery of the headphones).This is what the headset, accessories and soft pads look like:


The BH-905i looks quite presentable in public and doesn’t look quite as geeky as my Sennheiser HD-280 PRO Headphones do.

I’d rather wear the Nokia BH-905i headphones in public than wearing my Sennheiser headphones. View my Min.us gallery of the Sennheiser HD headphones I speak of. Overall, I was impressed by the build quality of this device; It’s a Nokia product and Nokia’s quite famous for having excellent hardware as evinced by my gushing over the Nokia N8 although they have some awful misses sometimes.

Battery Life

The Nokia BH-905i gets points for being a wireless accessory i.e. uses the Bluetooth protocol. If you’re using a modern notebook/phone, you should have Bluetooth capability, but there are bluetooth dongles available if your device lacks built-in bluetooth. That said, losing the cord means having to charge the headset every other day. I don’t listen to music 24/7 but in my experience and use, the headset lasted more than 5 hours which is more than adequate for my needs. I’ve grown into the habit of plugging up all my electronic accessories overnight so I never let the BH-905i run out of juice. For a more “scientific” study of the battery life, visit CNET‘s review of the Nokia BH-905i headset.

Ease of Use/Setup

I paired the headset with the Nokia C7 and my notebook running Ubuntu 10.10 a.k.a. Maverick Meerkat; a process which was painless. You have to initiate the pairing process from, say, your phone or notebook.

On Ubuntu 10.10, the Bluetooth icon should be on the System tray; Click the icon and select “Setup a new device”. If you don’t see this bluetooth icon in the system tray, simply navigate to the “System” menu, click “Preferences” and select “Bluetooth”. You should see the image below:

Sidenote: On Ubuntu, you have to pipe your Audio Output to the Nokia BH-905i device or you’ll still have music blaring from your notebook. To do this, simply right-click the Audio icon on your Ubuntu system tray, and click “Preferences”. Navigate to the “Output” tab and if the Nokia BH-905i device isn’t selected, make sure you select the radio button corresponding to the Nokia BH-905i headset.

There are controls on the BH-905i headset for playing your music; I could fast-forward, go back, play/pause my music from the headset directly (the Right ‘ear’ specifically). I’m not a big fan of the placement on these controls because I’m primarily used to having the controls on my cords on my wired headphones so this is not a fault of the BH-905i.

Sound Quality

From this non-audiophile/regular user’s perspective, the Nokia BH-905i sounds just as good as my Sennheiser HD-280 PRO Headphones. Given that the Sennheisser currently retails for $99, I don’t think the price tag of the BH-905i headset is reasonable. That said, I’m no audiophile.

The BH-905i headset comes with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) which can sap battery life so use judiciously.

This headset is meant to be used with devices that support it i.e. your mobile phone or computer so I paired the headset with the Nokia C7 and my notebook. I was able to listen to my music on the Nokia C7 with the Headset and even listen to calls, but I found it strange that the speakers on the C7 was still emanating sound even as I had the headset paired & connected to the C7! Kinda reminds me of Ubuntu and how you still have to change the Sound Output from “Analog Speaker” (which will play music on your computer’s speakers and through anything else connected to the 3.5mm jack) to “Analog Output” to restrict output to whatever’s plugged into the 3.5mm jack.

Overall, I love the headphones. They are built to last, fit perfectly and muffle outside sounds when you have them on. However, I fear I am not motivated enough to cut the cord by moving to a wireless headphone accessory. I’m also a bit unhappy at the current price tag of $199. Nevertheless, in doing a cursory search of other wireless headphones, the $100 – $500 price range is par for the course when it comes to bluetooth headphones. So, in a nutshell, great sound, form and construction make this phone a keeper, but the price might keep my wallet away from purchasing.

Update: The BH-905i headphones are available for purchase directly from Nokia!

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