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  1.    #1  
    I had a fun weekend doing a comparisson between two bluetooth headsets. Yeah, I know... "get a life." Anyway, I purchased an iPhone for my wife for Christmas and now she understands the need I have to accessorize my Treo. So we were in Best Buy on Saturday morning looking at bluetooth headsets. I had already read about good and bad experiences with the Jaw Bone and decided to give the newer technologies a try. We were having a tough time deciding between the Plantronics 665 and the BlueAnt Z9. The salesman reminded us that if we weren't happy with either product we could return it within 30 days for a full refund. Sold.

    We walked out with the BlueAnt Z9 for my wife's iPhone and the Plantronics 665 to go with my Treo wx700. I really wanted the Plantronics since it has the holster for charging that allows the headset to vibrate when there is an incoming call, comes with the car charger in the packaging, and it simply looks cool. Both units are priced the same at Best Buy, $99.99.

    The Blue Ant was simple to charge. Plug it in and wait until the red light goes out. Easy enough. The Pantronics has a flashing red light that is supposed to quit flashing when it is charged. The red light never quit flashing, even after charging all night. Also, a pretty purple light on the holster randomly illuminates during the charging process. A quick check on the web revealed that although just about everyone has the same light oddities I experienced with the Plantronics 665, no one has yet figured out what it all means.... including Plantronics. No big deal, I figured the overnight charge should be good enough.

    Both units were easy to pair with our cell phones. I like the push button setup better on the Plantronics unit since it allowed you to hang up one a call with a simple quick button push instead of having to hold the button down for 3 seconds like you have to do on the BlueAnt. But that odd button configuration on the Blue Ant turned out to carry the feature that made all the difference in the world, as I'll explain in a minute.

    The first thing I did Sunday morning was call my mom and dad, something I do every weekend. My mom immediately noticed that the BlueAnt sounded surprisingly clear. I called her back on the Plantronics and she said it sounded an awful lot like I was sitting in a tunnel. Hmmm.... I was still not convinced that I should return it. After all, it was darn sexy looking.

    So after searching around on the web reading up on the real differences between the two headsets I decided to give them the serious test... talking on the phone while riding down a rough segment of freeway in my SUV with the windows rolled down all the way. (Riding down the freeway in the dead of winter with the windows all the way down was quite a task, but one I did with determination so that I could inform my fellow treophytes of my findings.) Before the ride I paired both headsets to my Treo wx700 so the phone differences would be taken out of the equation. And finally, while riding down the freeway I cranked up my car's stereo with some nose-bleed level metal tunes.

    The difference between the two headsets was stunning.

    Plantronics 665: With the windows rolled down and the cruise control set at 75mph I put on the Plantronics headset and called my wife at home. She could barely hear me in the midst of the wind noise. So I rolled up the windows and continued talking over the music. At least now she could somewhat understand what I was saying but the road noise and music made it challenging and I kept having to repeat myself. All in all we determined that I was not going to be able to use the Plantronics while riding in the car down the freeway.

    BlueAnt Z9 With the windows rolled down and the cruise control set at 75 mph and the music cranked I called my wife again, this time with the BlueAnt headset on. Right away I noticed that she wasn't yelling at me over the phone. She could hear me clearly and I didn't need to raise my voice. She mentioned that she could hear some rumbling (road noise I believe) so I pushed the multi-function button on the heaset one time to switch it to maximum noise reduction. (Thats why you have to hold in the button for three seconds to hang up... it has multiple functions) She was stunned by how clearly my voice came through. She questioned whether I was driving down the road at all. She said the rumbling was gone, she couldn't hear any of my music on the car's sound system, and she did hear what might be a little wind noise but definitely not enough to be distracting.

    Sold! We returned the Plantronics unit to Best Buy and picked up another BlueAnt Z9. Now all I have to do is figure out how to set this thing up so I can use it for a microphone on my laptop's voice recognition software.

    Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to explain the differences I found between the two headsets.
    Motorcyclists understand why dogs hang their heads out of the car window.
  2. #2  
    Excellent review and comparisson. Thanks!
  3. #3  
    What version was loaded on the Z9?
    Did you upgrade to any other revs?
  4. #4  
    I liked my BlueAnt and many times forgot it was eared. However, it is not the best built headset out there. Mine got torn up and since the company is in Australia, they refused to replace it within the warranty period - I just threw it away and went back to my Motorola H500.
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by rudbwoy View Post
    What version was loaded on the Z9?
    Did you upgrade to any other revs?
    The Z9 came preloaded with version 3.1 of the firmware. A couple of days after I wrote the review above I went ahead and upgraded to 3.4 for no reason other than to see if it would break things. It didn't.

    Once cool thing to note, but it may be more luck than anything, is that I have yet to lose the connection between my Treo and my Z-9. Even when I am using the bluetooth connection to my computer so that I can use the "phone as modem" feature of the Treo, as soon as I disconnect the computer call the Z9 instantly reconnects to the Treo.

    I can't report on how the Z9 would have behaved on firmware versions previous to 3.1 since mine came preloaded. However, looking at the documentation in the upgrade software shows that 3.1 was a quantum leap problem resolution, especially with "Treo PDA's".

    Here is a link to the documentation for the Z9 firmware updates that I have placed on my website. You can see per release what all they have addressed: Z9 Firmware Updates

    Even after 4 days of using this beast, I'm still amazed at what it does and how good it sounds on both ends. I travel the country fixing structural engineering issues and its nice to be truly hands free.
    Motorcyclists understand why dogs hang their heads out of the car window.

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