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[REVIEW] Nokia BH-214 (a different kind of bluetooth headset, $48)

OP LAYGO

28th August 2010, 04:29 AM   |  #1  
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(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.

Features:
  • 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
    • Play/Pause
    • Prev Track
  • Buttons (around edge)
    • Vol Up
    • Vol Down
    • Power

Photo (mine):


Pros:
  • 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:



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


UPDATE:
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.
Last edited by LAYGO; 31st August 2010 at 04:32 PM.
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28th August 2010, 05:16 AM   |  #2  
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Sounds really cool, especially for the price. Ahh, I just wish it were a headset without wires, but for the purpose of what it is, sounds like a winner. Seems like the sweet spot looking for minus the headset (a2dp, range, battery, quality, etc). How are their other headsets?
28th August 2010, 07:20 PM   |  #3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbroad572

Sounds really cool, especially for the price. Ahh, I just wish it were a headset without wires, but for the purpose of what it is, sounds like a winner. Seems like the sweet spot looking for minus the headset (a2dp, range, battery, quality, etc). How are their other headsets?

What other headsets? Nokias? I don't know. Wired or not, I like it, but thats primarily because I WAS looking for stereo over bluetooth. In that regard, it works really well. Set up a long playlist, hit play & you can leave the phone tucked away for a long time. Call comes in, you can answer it (or at least when I learn how to!).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericpd

Nice review and nice find. You know what, this only shines light on one short coming of the Evo,... the FM radio won't work without a wired headset plugged in. This would be like succotash if HTC were able to fix,... well maybe not fix, because nothing is really broken, but if they were able to fit an antenna in there without affecting the form factor, these two would be a perfect match. Doesn't matter which decides to be the pea and which chooses to take on the role of the Lima bean.

I rarely and to date, have never, used FM. I will experiment some to see if I can get FM over bluetooth. I did experiment some with having headphones already plugged into the EVO & connecting bluetooth. It did not disconnect the audio from the wired plugins, but I didn't try to see if I could hear anything over bluetooth.

If it works, you can share audio! You keep your phone handy, plugged in directly to it, listening, hand someone the BT-214 & they get the same audio. I'm going to experiment with that right now!


UPDATE:
Experimenting with wired/bluetooth simultaneously doesn't seem possible. I think wired immediately takes priority. I was able to control the audio via BT-214 via bluetooth, but no audio came across. In order to get the audio on the BT-214, I had to unplug the wired, hit play/pause twice. As soon as I plugged in the wired, I got audio there immediately.
Last edited by LAYGO; 28th August 2010 at 07:27 PM.
28th August 2010, 07:59 PM   |  #4  
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Found this review that showed more of the device and had similar pleasant results:
http://www.phonearena.com/htmls/Noki...ew-r_2278.html
28th August 2010, 08:41 PM   |  #5  
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I found that at DealsExtreme, you can get it for $18 shipped:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.30406

Thing is, some of people claim that it is not authentic. Comparing the pictures to my device, some of the text on the clip is different. Mine says Nokia on the face and clip where as the pictures there do not. So, my guess is that it probably is fake. Or it could be manufacturer seconds (wouldn't pass retail QC).

I'm glad I didn't see the $18 one first because I would've bought it. After having bought an original for $48, I can say I'm happy enough to NOT have buyer's remorse.
30th August 2010, 05:40 AM   |  #6  
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LAYGO, which player were you using on your EVO? The default HTC app? I am wondering if it works with MixZing. Have you tried it with that?
30th August 2010, 06:32 AM   |  #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparhawk6

LAYGO, which player were you using on your EVO? The default HTC app? I am wondering if it works with MixZing. Have you tried it with that?

Mixzing. I did zero config to make it work, it just worked.
30th August 2010, 11:49 PM   |  #8  
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Based on your review, I bought this thing for running with my EVO. Thanks. I hope that the device will control the Audible app as well as MixZing.
31st August 2010, 10:08 AM   |  #9  
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Very nice review. I'm considering picking up a set. I must admit though, that dealextreme clone looks tempting. Though I've found time and time again that when I skimp on something like that, I end up buying the better product anyway and thus not saving any money.
31st August 2010, 04:43 PM   |  #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparhawk6

Based on your review, I bought this thing for running with my EVO. Thanks. I hope that the device will control the Audible app as well as MixZing.

I'd be interested to know what all the AVRCP stuff it will control. I'd imagine it's more related to the app vs the BH-214.

If you're going running with the included earphones, stay clear of traffic or run in a park. I'm telling you they seal well! Yesterday walking into the office, my supervisor was behind me talking & had to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention. I'm very attentive, but she snuck in behind me!

If you use a different set of earphones, you could clip the BH-214 to your belt with the longer length cord. You might be limited to where you can place it if you use the included earphones. I wear it on my shirt and with enough slack so I can turn my head, it sits just above the nipple line. I wear a 29-30" silver chain & the BH-214 hangs just about the same distance on my chest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Albaholic

Very nice review. I'm considering picking up a set. I must admit though, that dealextreme clone looks tempting. Though I've found time and time again that when I skimp on something like that, I end up buying the better product anyway and thus not saving any money.

I can say (again), I have zero regrets buying it. I use it everyday now where my old bluetooth, I'd simply forget about it until I wanted to make a call & I couldn't remember where I put it. My BH-214 sits next to my phone all day long or is clipped to me.

If you read the reviews on DE, you can hear some people complain about noise or humming. I do not have that issue at all.
Last edited by LAYGO; 31st August 2010 at 04:45 PM.

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