Accessory Review: Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset

By Kevin Hill on 21 Jan 2008 01:42 pm EST
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Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset

The Z9: To use it is to love it

The BlueAnt Z9 Bluetooth headset blends innovation and serious good looks to create the device to beat in the competitive headset market. This Australian company’s design has garnered raves and awards and marks a new standard in headsets. Over-the-top raving? Maybe, but this unit is worth the plaudits it has received. Stylish design, innovative noise reduction, echo cancellation technology and dual microphones mark this as the gold standard of headset design.

Serious style meets exceptional technology
Serious style meets exceptional technology

Design and Features 

I have been fortunate to both try and review a number of headsets over the last few months and have found a lot to be happy with most of them. So I was eager to see if the BlueAnt Z9 lived up to the hype. And I am pleased to say for the most part it does.

From a design perspective, the Z9 projects a clean, modern, simple profile. Nice graphic touches in a subtle package. The design won the 2007 US Consumer Electronics Show Innovations Design and Engineering Award. At just over 1.5 inches long, .6 inches wide and half and inch thick, it is certainly minimalist in scope. But it packs a lot of power for such a small device.

Simple packaging hides a gem of a headset
Simple packaging hides a gem of a headset

The Z9 sports a small silver square in the top section of the device which works as the Z9's multifunction button. It is easy to find and easy to press. The multifunction button also has a LED that flashes blue or red depending on the mode. Blue for in use and red for recharging. On the side of the devise, two volume buttons are also easy to locate and use. More on these later.

Ear bud and hook combine for comfortable and stable fit
Ear bud and hook combine for a comfortable and stable fit

The Z9 comes with a bud that sits inside the ear and a stiff-ish ear hook that is surprisingly comfortable. That hook has an innovative hook that attaches it to the device firmly and allows for some considerable adjustment, including changing it to fit either ear. It also comes with two spare ear hooks of slightly different sizes. At just .35 oz or 11 grams it sits comfortably on the ear and is barely noticeable. I found wearing the Z9 for longer periods of time to be no problem. In fact, that comfort might be a problem in that you forget you are wearing it.

The charger port is at the top of the device which is ergonomically smart and easy to access and use.

Using the Headset

Synching, as with most Bluetooth devices and the Curve, was a breeze and was quick to set up.

This leads me to my main concern with the BlueAnt Z9 – the one multifunction button. The unit has one button that is used for a variety of tasks from pairing mode, to on/off to resetting to ending calls. The trouble is that each of these functions requires some different click or hold time. The button works by pressing it and or the volume buttons in various combinations for different times. There are so many variations of this that the Z9 comes with a handy wallet guide…printed in 1 pixel high letters I might add…that explains each mode. It might take you some time to learn the different modes and how to activate them. Some modes are activated in conjunction with volume buttons which adds even more complexity. You would, in reality, only use a couple on a daily basis but the multi function button is a little problematic.

That pesky multifunction button
That pesky multifunction button

While figuring out the myriad combinations takes some getting used to actually using the headset for day to day functions was pretty easy. The buttons both the multifunction and the volume buttons are easy to feel and are easy to press and control.

Answering and ending calls was easy. The Z9 also has all the other features you would expect of an advanced headset such as call reject, last-number redial, voice-dialing and call mute.
Of course, the main question when any headset is being considered is sound quality and it is here where the BlueAnt excels.

The Z9's slim profile
The Z9's slim profile

The Z9 utilizes a couple of unique design functions that make for an incredibly clear sound both in terms of incoming calls and microphone clarity. The sound in the ear is crisp and clear with little or no distortion. The company has patents on its digital signal processor and voice isolation technologies, which reduces echo, wind noise and extraneous sounds. The unit features two microphones so the voice is picked up clearly. The BlueAnt Z9 has two settings a normal mode that can be used indoors and a Voice Isolation Max setting for car or outdoor settings. Both settings worked extremely well with the normal setting sounding very natural and clear and the advanced setting sounding slightly processed but, again, clear. Switching between the two is a matter of hitting the multifunction button during a call. People I spoke with said I sounded clear and normal (which is odd because I don’t in real life!). I tried it in my car, which in a Canadian winter is noisy with the heaters going and I could hear fine and people, while aware I was in a car, indicated I sounded clear.

Ok, the babe on the box looks better wearing the Z9
OK, the babe on the box looks better wearing the Z9

Your BlackBerry’s own echo cancellation settings can interfere with the Z9’s technology. It is advised that if that occurs, access the Device Properties whilst connected to the Z9, scroll to Echo Control and turn it to off.

According to BlueAnt you can also pair up to three different phones and switch connections between them with a series of clicks. I didn’t try this although this would be a useful feature if you were moving from cell to home.

BlueAnt claims 5.5 hours of talk time and I believe that was pretty accurate and up to 200 hours of standby time.

The bottom line

The BlueAnt Z9 is a stylish and compact headset that packs a big punch. Smaller than jawbone headsets it is minimal and unobtrusive. In spite of its small size, the Z9 features a host of unique voice technology features that deliver crisp and clear sound both coming and going.

The Australian company has also positioned themselves with some aggressive pricing and the quality contained in the Z9 is comparable to much more expensive headsets and jawbones. 

Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset Review Summary:
Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset
Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset Ratings

Pros:

  • Discreet size
  • Awesome noise cancellation technology
  • Incoming and outgoing sound quality
  • Comfortable ear hooks
  • Great price point

Cons:

  • Complicated multifunction button
  • Complicated system of programming
Buy Now:
Purchase the Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset in the CrackBerry.com Store


 

Reader comments

Accessory Review: Blueant Z9 Bluetooth Headset

8 Comments
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I've used both the Jawbone and Z9 for months each, and have to say I think I like the Z9 more. For everyday usability, it's much more comfortable and discreet.

I've read a few reviews on the Z9...and have seen the reviewers go both ways...people REALLY LOVE it or tend not to like it. I'm one of the guys who LOVES it.

I used the Jawbone for months before trying the Z9, and switching over was a HUGE difference. The Z9 is tiny in comparison, weighs nothing, and works really well. You don't sacrifice much to the Jawbone except size. The voice quality was always solid...I'd say nearly as good as the Jawbone...maybe even equal depending on the settings. The only thing I found lacking slightly on the Z9 was the range. Typically with Bluetooth headsets I can leave my BlackBerry in my living room and walk throughout the house and I'll never drop my connection (go into other rooms, far corner of the house in the basement, etc.). I found with the Z9 that I couldn't go as far away from my BlackBerry. Definitely not as much Bluetooth connectivity power. So for car or office use it's great, but if you want to go wandering it's not quite as powerful as the jawbone.

I tried both the z9 as well as the Jawbone. My voice must be too deep for any blue tooth device, however the noise redux on the Blueant did not serve me well.

If walking the Device would pick up my footsteps over my voice...callers were very annoyed. apparently it has an affinity to the higher frequencies...As I stated before...my deep voice didnt work so well.

Jawbone is working better for me, due to the noise redux...but the z9 was much more comfortable!

Fashion vs function...your call!

Paul~

Thank you for your great review. I teach computers and I'm looking for a wireless microphone for my presentations. I would like to know if it's possible to use Blueant Z9 as a lavaliere/clip microphone connected to a laptop via Bluetooth, amplifying voice in laptop's speakers. Thank you.

I've tried multiple headsets and wanted so much to fall in love with the Blue Ant Z9 (previously I had used a Blue Ant X3 Micro). The Z9 is about the most comfortable and easy to use BT headset I ever used. It felt comfortable with all day wear and stayed securely in place.

Unfortuneately, I was disappointed with the performance. In particular, with any outdoor noise or wind, people on the other end couldn't understand a thing I was saying.

I've come to the understanding that sound quality of a BT headset is part the headset and part the phone to which it is paired...some headsets work well with one phone but perform poorly with others. Therefore, I think you really have to test it with more than one phone to give it a full review.

I have opted for a Jabra BT8040 BT headset...similar size to the Z9 and I get much better performance with a BlackBerry Pearl and Samsung Blackjack II.

Have you upgraded to the v3.4 firmware? The great thing about Blue Ant Wireless products are that you can always update to the latest firmware to resolve certain known issues. Also did you disable the Echo on your Blackberry? I know disabling it does help with allowing only the Z9 to control the echo during your conversations.

I use the Z9 whenever I'm driving (I drive between central Ohio and Eastern PA every other week, so I'm in the car a lot), and it's been nothing but great for me. The major selling points were the size (I'm not a fan of big, bulky bluetooth headsets that cover half the face....yes, I consider the Jawbone to be one of these), and more so, the ability to connect to multiple devices. Previously, because I have two phones, I had to use my old Plantronics headset with one phone, and a motorola speaker on my visor for the other. I admit I love random tech toys, but this was a bit annoying having to make sure two items were charged and synced and ready to go. The Z9 is significantly better. It switches almost instantly, so I never miss a call (originally a concern of mine), and as many people have said, it is quite comfortable to wear. My old headset would only last about an hour before I'd have to take it off. Plus, with the little tie clip, if I do decide to take it off, it's still close by (though be careful! I had it clipped to my shirt, and started moving boxes around and lost it. Found it outside in the parking lot luckily! Needless to say, I only clip it to my shirt while in the car, and I make sure to put it away before I get out). Sound quality has not been a problem for me at all either. I've had one person tell me I was cutting out, but it was in the middle of a snow storm, and I don't know if that had anything to do with it, or if the battery was low, but otherwise, nobody seems to have trouble hearing me. I definitely recommend this headset, and until it stops working, I have no desire to replace it with anything else!

i just bought one from ebay
it comes with version 3.4 ( the LATEST )
paired it with my phone, sony ericsson k810i, not berry user
compared to other users comments, website reviews,
it is DISAPPOINTING!
the voice isolation doesn't seem to work
two situation:
A) i'm was in my living room with television on, MTV channel
with voice isolation max turn on, caller on the other end could identify
the song that was playing on TV!!
the volume on the tv wasn't very loud, just normal
B) i'm in my room with my nicro hi fi on
volume wasn't very loud also
again with voice isolation max turn on, i could hear statics
as if the transmission has got lots of interference

really dunno what's wrong with it
can somebody help me??

This headset is excellent, BUT it has a very serious problem with the earbud.

After using it on a daily basis for about 4 months, the earbud made of rubber just disintegrated!

While this part is replaceable (in a cost of 10 USD, simple assembly), there's only one online store selling it and they don't have this part for over a month.

While still useable it is very uncomfortable for ongoing use. I hate to do it but I will need to find myself a new headset and with this price I wouldn't put my money again on this product.