So I get this interesting-looking headset from BlueAnt. I could've sworn I've seen it before. That was until I opened it up. Having used the 1st generation Z9 quite a bit, I thought: Hmmm...how does this work better if it looks almost exactly the same? And why didn't they change the look? And why am I laying in bed with my face in the pillow? Well, I thought I'd find out for myself. What I got was a long phone interview with BlueAnt's VP, Peter George about the Z9i. A wonderfully entertaining man, if I may say so, with that dashing Aussie accent to add. What is it with these men anyway? Um hello! Mel Gibson (when he was younger). Need I say more? So I'm sitting there, playing with my headset and listening to this buttery intoxication from down under school me on the new Z9i as I try to put a Russell Crow-ish face on this man's voice. "Have you toyed around with the Z9i yet" he says. "Yes, I have played with it a bit, but not a lot" I muse as I roll over onto my back. "Well, what would you like to know Jenna?" he asks.....I'm thinking more. I want more...And if you want to know more, Read on!
Besides some suave Australian guy with a killer accent? Well, the BlueAnt Z9i of course. The 1st generation Z9 was awarded the 2007 International CES Award for design and engineering. With its sleek, glossy, simple design and revolutionary Voice Isolation Technology, it's a no brainer as to why it was so successful. The Z9i, in my opinion, is just as worthy of an award. It's still the same small size (1.5" in length and 0.35 oz.) with the same good ol' reliability. But don't call this a mere upgrade just yet. Sure, you got the supermodel Aliphs, the professor Nextlinks, and the executive Jabras. We've all heard about the quiet bespectacled secretary who turns out to be a sexy badass chick at night. Well, the Z9i may look simple on the outside, but this baby's got a kinky little secret. Inside this simple design is a sexy little tiger waiting to be unleashed. Let me show you how. But first, let's look at what it comes with.
The BlueAnt Z9i comes housed much like the original Z9 was. Except for a few modifications to the advertising on the packaging itself. Sure, I appreciate lavish, luxurious presentations. That being said, it's no museum display but the Z9i comes packaged very nicely and securely.
Inside the cylindrical box are: The user manual, the quick start guide (which is all you really need), AC power adaptor, the original discreet clear earhook, a smaller earbud (I really appreciated that). And of course, the usb charger which also works if and when you need to upgrade firmware to the Z9i via PC.
Not much difference except for the new ear hook on the Z9i, although the new Z9i does come in a soft touch red (for the ladies, or gents who want a different look).
I never had an easier time setting up the Z9i right out of the box. Pairing is very simple indeed. Designwise, the Z9i looks exactly like its predecessor. The only obvious difference between both headsets is the earhook that comes standard. The new earhook is a mouldable rubber and chrome beauty that is both comfortable and very secure to wear. If you do happen to have both headsets, it's easy to tell which one is which by simply looking at the decals on the back of each headset. The multifunction button still has the trademark ant, and it glows blue and red, depending on what you're doing. The light can be turned off easily for nighttime driving, simply by holding down both volume buttons for 3 seconds. I really appreciated that because I hate having a lighthouse beacon on the side of my face, any time of the day. The multifunction button is very solid, and it does an array of things: Power, Pairing, Answer/End/Reject calls, Voice Dial (yes!) and switching between Voice Isolation modes (more on this later)
The earpiece comes in two sizes for a better fit. Aside from having the original clear ear hook included. The new ear hook is also quite stylish.
When you're not using the Z9i, you can simply clip it onto your shirt or cuff. Nifty idea!
The backbone of the BlueAnt technology is its award-winning Voice Isolation Technology which provides great noise suppression, echo cancellation and wind noise reduction without any voice distortion. This is also accomplished in part to the two microphones on the headset. The result is a clear pick up of your voice via the two microphones, and the separation of your voice from the noisiest environments. Pretty simple right? I thought so.
When you go into a call, Voice Isolation Standard is on. Standard provides enough noise suppression so that people on the other end can still hear what's going on around you, without having to strain to hear your voice. Voice Isolation Max provides even more agressive noise suppresion, so that you can actually talk to someone clearly even in the middle of a dance club. All you have to do is press the multi function button to switch between modes and a voice will alert you.
In addition, BlueAnt has really amped up the software on the new Z9i. You can now pair this with up to 5 different devices, including your PC's Bluetooth connection. You can also have 2 phone simultaneously connected to the Z9i all at once. With the Z9i, you never have to learn the series of clicks and beeps some headsets require you to know. Every little change comes with a friendly notification. Lastly, this baby's got voice dial. With one click on the multi function button on standby, you can make a call simply by saying someone's name. This works pretty well although I'm still trying to figure out how to call God on this. So if anyone's got his number, feel free to send it to me.
The volume buttons are clearly defined but they are just a tad bit stiff.
The Z9i fits comfortably and performs very well in the noisiest environments
Here's you see the Z9i compared to the Original Z9, the Aliph Jawbone 2 and the Plantronics Discovery 655
For pairing, I tested the BlueAnt Z9i with my trusty HTC Mogul and my Motorola Krzr (fabulous picture of that below). I tested the Z9i while walking in Central Park, perusing the goods at downtown SOHO, and of course, driving past the Tappan Zee Bridge with the windows down and the music playing.
When using Voice Isolation Standard, most people could hear me clearly enough. But in noisier environments with the Voice Isolation Max activated, most people thought I was just sitting at the office. For the most part, calls came through clear on both ends, with the exception of some people who reported isolated clicking noises at times, which is expected in certain high static areas. The Z9i also does a pretty good job at filtering out wind noise so that you can drive with the top down all you like with little to no wind interference.
I do have to mention that if you are going to use this with a Windows Mobile phone, I recommend that your phone have all the latest updates possible in order to get the best seamless connection you can get with the Z9i. I also like the fact that I had the headset paired with both phones, and that I was able to pick up whenever each one rang. I spend a lot of my time on my laptop so I liked the convenience of the USB charger. A typical charge for me takes around 45 mins, depending on how low the battery is. Talk time is reported at up to 5.5 hrs with 200 hrs standy. In my tests, I've been able to squeeze out about 6 hrs with the LED off.
Although the high gloss black is very masculine, the BlueAnt Z9i matches perfectly with my crystallized Krzr!
Who says gadgets are just for men? Ladies need not fear the bluetooth headset any longer! In fact, here is a perfect example of some new accessories I put together to go with my lovely Z9i. For us ladies, now all you need are a pair of fabulous jeans and a cute blouse to pull the look together!
The BlueAnt Z9i carries a very solid 2-year replacement warranty. Support info such as an FAQ, warranty, user guide, software upgrades and contact info can be found on their support page.
BUGS AND WISHES
Although I really found no qualms about the BlueAnt Z9i, I do have to write everything down fair and square. So that being said, imagining an invisible gun to one side of my head (and VP Peter's sexy Aussie accent on another)...I will have to say that the volume buttons are a bit stiff and a bit difficult to press. So controlling special functions involving the volume buttons, like turning the light off requires a tad bit of pressure. Also, I love the fact that it also comes in soft-touch red now, which should please the ladies. Although the black is sleek and workeable into any outfit, it's still very masculine to me. But if I had to gripe about something else, I've always wanted a satin champagne finish headset. In fact, a lot of women have expressed a desire for the satin champagne finish. There, I said it.
The BlueAnt Z9i can be bought from Amazon.com for $68-75, depending on color.
- Tested, proven, reliable Voice Isolation Technology
- Connects to five Bluetooth devices (even your computer for skype, etc.)
- Multipoint allows it to be connected to two phones simultaneously
- Now comes with interchangeable accessories for the ultimate comfort
- Great battery life and portability, thanks to the innovative tie clip
- If you really want a change, it comes in soft touch red. Yummy
- The volume controls are a bit hard to press
- A tad pricey
- For such a great headset, it could come in more than just 2 colors (cough cough...champagne..cough cough)
I know I'm gonna like an upgrade when I enjoyed the previous version thoroughly. But as previously stated, this is no mere upgrade. We look too much into the outer shell of a product without caring about what's inside. That goes for people as well. You think we would learn by now.
The 1st generation Z9 was a very good product with solid performance. So instead of changing up everything for the sake of aesthetics, the folks at BlueAnt decided to take what was already good, and make it better by increasing its capabilities. Makes sense. Not a lot of people have heard about BlueAnt, but the company truly is at the forefront of Bluetooth wireless innovation. I loved their T8 and Z9 headsets. The Z9i just gave me more reason to love BlueAnt. So what do I think besides Australian men having sexy accents? Well, I think the Z9i is an overall solid product that performs very well, looks very good, and priced very nicely. So, after a great talk with my suave Aussie VP, I am left laying on my bed, pondering the complexity that goes into making such a great little headset. But more importantly, as I twirl my hair between my fingers, I wonder...Does he look more like Russell or Mel. Ah...the mysteries of life. This is Jenna reporting for pocketnow.com. Until next time. Adios!