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.


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 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!

PR 1.1 may have ruined my Nokia N8

So, you heard about the PR 1.1 update hitting various Symbian^3 devices over-the-air (OTA) or via Ovi Suite or the Software Updater tool. Well, here’s my cautionary tale of how PR 1.1 brought nothing but trouble to my Nokia N8. I ran the Software Update application on my Nokia N8 and got the message that the “N8 Device software” update was available.
PR 1.1 available for the Nokia N8 About PR 1.1 for the Nokia N8
I dutifully backed up my phone and started the process of updating my phone. After my phone rebooted and the update worked its magic, I was *very* surprised to see that all my installed apps and settings were still present. I didn’t think anything of this, but in my experience with firmware updates like this, *everything* gets formatted and I essentially expected to be starting from a fresh plate. After the update, I noticed the little changes like portrait orientation for the dialer tool, etc. What I also noticed was a slew of issues like windows were displayed weirdly i.e. only half of the window was visible on my screen, and problems maintaining a WiFi connection. I was bummed out and decided a reformat (*#7370# in the dialer) was in order. After the reformat, I expected that the Ovi Store application would be pre-installed on the phone as reported on Nokia’s websites. Alas, that was not to be. I couldn’t launch the Ovi Store application despite the words, “Ovi Store”, showing up in the Application Manager. In fact, tapping the Store icon only redirected me to a webpage when I was instructed to download the .sis file for the Ovi Store. Attempting to install this .sis file resulted in an “Unable to install” message. The story and my facts thus far:

  1. I updated Nokia N8 to PR 1.1 via an OTA update through the Software update application
  2. After the PR 1.1 update, all my applications and settings were still present on my phone. These applications included several Nokia Beta Labs apps like Battery Monitor, Mobile Documents, Nokia Bots, etc. The PR 1.1 update didn’t come with any special instructions for handling.
  3. After reformatting my PR 1.1 device, the Nokia N8 was essentially DOA because without the Ovi Store, I have no apps.
  4. Update: 3:32pm: For whatever reason, Ovi Suite did not have this option to reinstall the firmware on my Nokia N8 when the borked N8 was connected via USB. Will put up a screenshot later.

Right now, pissed is an understatement. I called the Nokia Support line and after doing 2 rounds with Customer Service level 1 folk, I was bumped to a Level 2 technician who finally figured out that something super screwy was going on. To make this long story short: I was issued a shipping slip, filled out a repair request and was told to ship my Nokia N8 to a Nokia Care center. I’m stuck without a primary phone for at least 2 weeks while the Nokia Care Center attempts to reflash the phone. I have never had to send any of my devices for reflashing and I’m very apprehensive. Thankfully, my phone is still under warranty, but I would feel incredibly shafted if this had happened when I was out of warranty. You can check on your phone’s warranty status with Nokia by visiting this site and entering your serial/IMEI number. Now, I’m scared because if the future updates destined for the N8 feel as untested and as coarse as PR 1.1, then N8 users are in for a world of hurting. In any case, there’s a silver lining to this story though: A) My contract with AT&T expires soon and this means it’s upgrade time. Android (HTC Inspire 4G) is looking mighty fine and I’ve entered ChipChick’s contest for the HTC Inspire 4G, but the following things about the N8 keeps me from throwing my hands up:

  1. I absolutely love the camera on the Nokia N8.
  2. free Navigation, USB on-the-go, etc. Go read my original post about why I chose the Nokia N8

B) I should be receiving a two week trial of a Nokia C7 and the Nokia BH-905i headset so I’ll be using & reviewing these items and should have a write-up of my thoughts on them. Wish me luck and let me know if you’ve had nothing but trouble from PR 1.1 on your Symbian ^ 3 devices. 🙂

Update: My thoughts on the Nokia BH-905i headset have been published!

Ovi Store Blues

I love the Ovi Store for simplifying what used to be an exhausting method of purchasing Symbian apps. Before the Ovi Store, purchasing a Symbian application was an exhausting cycle of:

  1. Searching for your app online and with luck, landing directly on the developers website or the many online marketplaces which include Handango, PenReader, or Handmark, etc.
  2. Purchasing that app using their payment processor of choice. Remembering to keep that email invoice safe by printing out the receipt or permanently storing in your e-mail inbox in case when you replaced your phone and needed to reinstall the app. With Handango, you would get charged a download fee if 30 days have passed since your first purchase so you not only have to keep your invoices, you have to save a copy of the installation file (.sis or .sisx).
  3. If you’ve replaced your phone, installing your purchased app involves the following:
    • Email the developers with your purchase details and IMEI number.
    • Wait anywhere from 24hr – 4 days for a response with a link to the new installation file
    • Unfortunately for Nokia users & developers, there are 3 “versions” of Symbian that they may have to support if they wanted to cater to all markets.If you’re lucky, you might not get charged extra if you moved from a non-touchscreen phone like the Nokia E71x to a touchscreen phone like the Nokia N8.

Needless to say, I’ve become a digital packrat with copies of (almost) every Windows (Mobile), Android, Symbian application I’ve ever purchased. So, I was very relieved when the Ovi Store came out because I finally had a source that would *always* be available for me to download from. When you purchase an app on the Ovi Store with either a credit card (you’ll have to pop out your SIM for this option if you are in the USA) or operator billing (i.e. you get billed when you get your monthly phone bill), you get an email receipt of your purchase and the Ovi Store stores this information so that reinstalling your app is as easy as clicking the “Download” button that will appears on apps you’ve purchased or downloaded before.

Unfortunately, there is a fly in this ointment. Did you know that if you click the “Download” button 5 times, you will be prevented from further downloads of the app that you paid for? I experiment with my phone a lot by using a lot of Nokia Beta Labs applications and other .sis/.sisx files that I find online. Rather often, I run into issues that I have no idea of troubleshooting and for me, reformatting is the easiest option. With my latest reformat, I was greeted with this message when I attempted to download Angry Birds, the $1.99 application I purchased and blogged about here:

Exhibit #1: Angry Birds
Blocked from Downloading Angry Birds on Ovi Store

Exhibit #2: SoundHound
You need to update this application to a newer version that is compatible with your current phone mode

The notification reads: “You need to update this application to a newer version that is compatible with your current phone model“. For crying out loud, SoundHound was one of the first applications I bought for my Nokia N8 and I freaking blogged about that in this article about Ovi Maps Improvements and Some Recommended Apps on the Nokia N8!

Before I did the kneejerk “tweet about how horrible the Ovi Store is and threaten to blog about it” thing, I did the following:

  1. I opened up a support request here:
  2. Then, I sent a tweet to @NokiaCareUS and asked for their intervention.
    .bbpBox32208253072965630 {background:url( #9AE4E8;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

    @NokiaCareUS I reformatted my #N8 2x in the 24hrs and I’m getting a “max # of download attempts reached” msg for Angry Birds!less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

To Nokia’s credit, @NokiaCareUS got back to me and shortly afterwards, sent me a direct link to download my Angry Birds installation file! As for my SoundHound app, I couldn’t find my email invoice. Expecting the trust bar to be raised higher for a $4.99 app, I went ahead & re-purchased it. This time, I printed my email invoice. 🙂

.bbpBox33283858484961280 {background:url( #C0DEED;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

@janetalkstech Just resent your content to you. Sorry for the inconvenience. U might get the link again if u already sent a care request.less than a minute ago via Spredfast

Moral lesson of this very late blog post: Hitting the “5 installs” limit on the Ovi Store is not a death sentence. Open a support ticket or send a tweet @NokiaCaresUS (make sure you follow them so you can provide personal information privately).