When I first saw the Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-601 it was techno-lust at first sight. The overused stylish aptly describes this wireless headphone headset combo. The square speakers with music controls on the face of the left phone are the epitome of retro-cool.
As usual, I tore into the packaging without starting at the beginning. I found a second set of earphone foam, a thin manual, and the thin style AC adapter which I immediately plugged in. The pin sized end goes into the headphones. Glancing at the manual, I saw that I had a three hour wait for them to charge.
The charger is welcomely small and light, handles both 110 and 220 voltage. It is of the vertical style that allows for efficient use of a power strip.
Because the headset contains a rechargeable battery, this headset isnt featherweight at 3.53 ounces. The hard plastic band is quite solid and wraps firmly around the back of the head. As is more and more common, these are one-size fits all though I find them comfortable if a bit snug. The designers at Nokia decided to place all of the headset controls on the face of the right earpiece. These include volume buttons, track control buttons, and a multifunction button. The LEDs on the headset are mercifully small dot-like affairs -- Blue/Red and a separate green one to indicate charging status. There is also a tiny reset button as well though Ive never needed to use it.
According to the clearly written though uninspiring manual (in English only), the headset is rated for 8 hours of talk and or music time. The headset automatically goes into a power saving mode if not connected within three minutes.
While waiting for the headset to charge, I decided not only to read the manual, but also the sell sheet on the back of the package. There it referenced a USB wireless audio adapter. Digging around in the packaging, I found it. The major missing component is some sort of carry case or carry bag. At this price, this headset should have included some sort of cloth bag and probably a more sturdy case. Even at a lower price point, a slip case should be included.
The headset supports Bluetooth 1.1 and higher for talk and also Bluetooth 1.2 with A2DP and AVRCP profiles for wireless music streaming and track control, respectively. For Treo owners, this means current users of the 750V and owners of the new Treo 750 are in luck. However, the headsets should work with the rest of the Treo line for headset use.
The headset pairs easily enough. Simply hold down the multifunction button for ten seconds and the LEDs will flash blue and red. For those of you who haven't paired a Windows Mobile device, the process is painless. To start, navigate to the wireless manager through either the icon at the top of the today screen or through connections from the settings panel. You'll need to enter the typical four zeros as a passcode. Simply follow the prompts on screen. The manual states that you can pair the headset with a compatible phone for headset use and a different device that supports music use. In fact, pressing the track-forward and track-reverse buttons simultaneously cycles you through any music players you have paired with the device.
If you're playing music, a call will put the music on hold and if your device supports it, you can redial (pressing the multifunction and volume down) or use voice dialing (volume up and multi function button simultaneously). Transferring calls is yet another combination of buttons.
The music was clear, but didn't have much dynamic range. I've noticed that part of the responsibility falls to A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) which I think simply can't carry as robust a signal as a wired solution. However, Bluetooth 1.2 is an incredible change over the 1.1 that Palm saddled us with in the some Treos. The range of the device seems to be the actual 10 meters and is capable of carrying around walls. It was liberating to walk around the apartment un-tethered and have music come through without breaking up. Pairing was also smoother than many headsets I've used.
The quality of calls is fair and surprisingly the call is routed only to one ear. For some this may be a reassuring nod to old style headsets. It also allows ambient noise to come into the other ear should you need to catch something else going on. However, I've come to appreciate phone calls that use both earpieces. It's a matter of preference. I would not recommend using these while driving. It may well be illegal.
These are very comfortable. The soft foam gently covers the whole ear. The headset is snug around the top of the ear, maybe too snug for some, just right for others. The controls are easy to locate and use, though the multi-button presses for advanced functions may be annoying if you need to use them often.
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