Why you should spend $390 on a Bluetooth headset even without an iPhone

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 05 September 2007

Sennheiser seems to have scored high approval ratings with its latest Bluetooth phone headset, the BW900 - even being rated as "giving better sound than the iPhone's own microphone."

Several early reviews have highlighted the new hands-free device for its ability to "pair" with more than one device at the same time, making it theoretically possible to use it as your main all-phone interface.

It has also got high points for noise reduction ability - including the option of a wind-sensitivity shield for outdoor use. And the 100m Bluetooth wireless range makes it suitable for workers in open plan offices.

Exactly why a 100m range might be important is not clear. The device is a headset, pure and simple; which means you can hang up a call - but you can't dial, or enter DTMF codes, because it isn't a phone.

It plugs into a phone - either a standard wired telephone with a headset socket, or via Bluetooth pairing to a cellphone. But move more than arm's length from that phone, and you are out of touch.

Battery life is reckoned at 4 hours or more; but (as with many Sennheiser headsets) the rechargeable battery is removeable. That means that if you fork out the extra for a spare battery, you can charge one while draining the other. The headset has its own (capacitor?) power storage which lasts long enough to switch batteries while continuing to talk.

Availability may be problematical, depending where you live. The official Sennheiser announcement, dated June 27 this year, "predicts" availability from May 2007. If that isn't confusing enough, the Slashphone review was dated January 05, and said that in the US, "the Sennheiser BW900 Bluetooth wireless headset will be available January 2006, at Sennheiser's suggested retail price of $329.95" which also seems to have been changed recently.

The iLounge review, published this week, is probably the most complete examination, and highlights the extreme comfort of the device when worn:

It actually feels good on your ear. You wouldn't expect that from the size, but it's not heavy or hard to put on. The ear speaker slides outwards to let you slip BW900 on, then inwards to rest close enough to your ear canal to let you hear your callers without a problem. Sennheiser's covers don't use a lot of rubber or special padding, but they don’t have to, as this is more like having a small, good speaker right next to your ear than trying to squeeze something inside. As surprising as it was to us by comparison with other, more isolating headsets we've tested, we liked the sound and the fit.
According to some sources, the Sennheiser BW 900 Bluetooth price is "significantly discounted" already, but in the UK Amazon reports it at £238.80. There are others offering prices below £200 inc VAT if you google about.

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