[REVIEW] Nokia BH-214 (a different kind of bluetooth headset, $48)
(LONG! But I like too much info vs not enough)
You might be asking yourself, wtf is that thing?
See stock photo (theirs):
Imagine it as a wireless wired remote to your phone's media player! I say wired because it's wired to the headphones, but it's wireless between the device & the phone over bluetooth.
- Bluetooth HFP/HSP/A2DP/AVRCP
- 7hrs battery time
- included earphones w/short cable
- Buttons (on the face), clockwise from noon:
- Phone (send/end)
- Next Track
- Prev Track
- Buttons (around edge)
- Cost: $48 (clone or fake for $18?)
- L O U D !
- Uses *ANY* 3.5mm earphones to hear
- Fantastic battery life
- Did I mention loud?
- Phone audio in BOTH ears
- Stereo audio from your phone!
- Really good audio signal, clean/clear . . . AND LOUD!
- Just flat works well!
- Included earphones have really good sound and a short cable, no excess cable dangling about, and comfortable!
- The broadcast distance is pretty long too
Cons (and these are trivial!):
- Included earphones seal almost too well
- The blinking blue light is bright in the dark
- Button presses don't provide any real tactile feedback, but it does beep in your ear
- When it times out, requires a button press to get it active again
- You have to turn off bluetooth on the phone to turn the ringer up, otherwise it just turns up the bluetooth connection audio (more of a phone issue)
- I can't think of anything else
I've had a couple of bluetoothes (blueteeth? blueteethes?), but never really liked any of them. I always wanted stereo over bluetooth, but I've not liked any of the devices I've seen. What's great about the BH-214 is that you can use any earphones with a 3.5mm tip to hear! You're not limited to the ones they include.
I've got some Shure SCL2 IEMs (In Ear Monitors, professional grade) & some Sennheiser HD-465 (over ear) & I was expecting to be underwhelmed by the included headphones, but I'm extremely pleased with them. They are remarkably comfortable. I wore them for about 8-9hrs today with zero discomfort. The audio quality was fantastic too. I'm no audiophile though, so YMMV.
Now for you volume buffs, these can get LOUD! I plugged in my Sennheisers and cranked the volume on the BH-214. These are full size headsets and just holding them in my hand, I could hear the audio clearly . . . as could anyone sitting nearby. We've been working in a team setting lately and we've got 4 of us cramped in a smaller room and we all listen to headphones. I had Led Zeppelin playing and a guy across the table could name the song & was whistling along. That was before I even turned up the bluetooth media volume on the phone itself.
With the cable for the headphones being only 30", it makes it real convenient for storage & not have all this excess cable dangling around. My Shure's cable are 60" long & my Sennheiser's are even longer! Shorter means its also easier to store/transport. I keep my Shure's in a little round case that came with them, but it's bulky in my pocket.
For comparison, I took some pictures comparing my Shure SCL2 IEMs next to the included Nokia headphones.
I liked the fit of the Nokia headphones so much, I made sure my Shure's were using similar size & pliability inserts. The Nokia's come with small/medium/large. Mediums are installed by default & they are the ones I think have fit better than any other in ears headphones I've had.
The only downside to the included earphones is that they do seal really well. That might be a good thing for some people, but expect to not hear things & have people wave at you to get your attention! At dinner tonight, I didn't notice the waitress checking in on me. The other kinda annoying part about them sealing so well is that things like eating tortilla chips, all you could hear at that point was the crunch inside my head! Also, I could hear the cable rubbing against my collar as a rustling/brushing sound. Not a terrible thing IMO, but something to be aware of.
I started wondering why I was having that full seal issue with the Nokia headphones, but not with my Shures. Until matching the size/pliability of the inserts, I was using the medium foam ones on my Shures & they allowed a lot more external sounds in. When I switched to the black rubber pictured here, I did experience more of the full seal isolation, but not quite to the extreme of the Nokias. Again, just relaying my experience.
I started listening to the MP3s on my phone via the BH-214 on my way to work around 830am and listened virtually non-stop all day except for around lunch. I listened straight thru dinner & until I sat down at my computer about 830pm! They were still going strong & I did not charge them at all during work. I did the button press to see the state of the battery (green good/yellow 1hr/red low!) & it did show red.
I was watching some YouTube vids & the audio came across over the BH-214 fine.
When I hit pause for awhile, it would automatically power off after a few mins. Hitting the play button will reconnect it, but I've had it not get the phone profile reconnected & just the A2DP/AVRCP stuff will work. I got some phone calls today while listening to audio & it rang in my ear, but for some reason it did not answer it on the BH-214. I sat there for a few seconds before realizing that. It might've been something I did, but it happened a few times today. Even when I tried to initiate a call, while listening to audio, it didn't trigger the BH-214 to handle it. I'm not sure it's the device or me or my phone (rooted stock 2.2). I'll have to experiment some more to find out the deal. Twice was later during the day, so I wonder if it was something to do with the charge?
[8/31 UPDATE: When I know it's not going to reconnect the phone audio, I just turn on/off BT on the phone & it will reconnect. It's a little easier using the BT widget than trying to power off the BH-214 with it's tiny power button.)
Now, yesterday I made a call with it & it sounded great in both my ears, my buddy said it sounded like I was just on my phone (he has the Icon). I used it flawlessly this morning during a conference call while pulling into work. When it was my turn to talk, everyone could hear me no problem. The funny thing about the mic sensitivity was that when I was done talking, I got out of my car in the parking garage & someone's car alarm was going off. It was on another floor & not even close to me and they asked me to mute because they could hear it!
While I was packing up for the day, I walked away from where I was working back to my desk, leaving my phone behind. That had to be like 40-45 feet away & I never even got so much as a hiccup in the audio. Nothing. You couldn't tell if I was 1 foot away much less 45 feet away.
Overall I'm ecstatic about this thing thus far. I imagine I'll figure out the quirks about answering calls with it & getting an answered call with the phone switched to BT. Since calls is the least used feature on my phone, I'm less familiar with those functions.
RATING: 4.5 / 5
I love it & would definitely buy another if I lost it. I've already considered writing my name on it in case I do drop it some place!
Here you can see how the earphones are only 30" long:
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Last night after writing the review, the phone rebooted on me when I tried to start Wired Tethering while listening to audio. Thought that was weird.
Then this morning, the BH-214 had timed out on pause, so I tried to reconnect it. The audio timer was running, but no audio was coming across. I went to check the bluetooth settings & noticed this in the menu:
Notice how it says "Connected to media audio"? When it first pairs, it will says "Connected to phone and media audio". Some how, the phone audio profiles drop even though it's checked for "Use for phone audio". Like this:
Then shortly after taking the screenshots while trying to get the audio to play, my phone randomly rebooted again. Does this have anything to do with the BH-214? It could just be my phone, but I can't tell for sure at the moment.