Review BlueAnt Z9i Bluetooth Headset
Cost: $59.95 in red and black
The Blue Ant Z9i is the newer iteration of the original Z9 from BlueAnt. The device is nice and tiny and fits your ear perfectly. Unlike the recent Jawbone it offers you more flexibility with the ear hook so you can get a better fit. The noise cancelation is not as good as the Jawbone but it does not need to touch your Jawbone for it to work.
One of the coolest features available on the Z9i is that it can be connected to two Bluetooth devices at the same time. That means you can carry one headset for both your work and personal device! Check out the full details in the review below to see what makes this headset so great!
The Z9i is on the smaller side of Bluetooth devices, measuring only 1.6 inches long, .68 inches wide and weighing only .35 ounces, which is the same dimensions as the previous Z9. It is very sleek with only 3 buttons. It has a volume rocker with (+) (-) and the Multi-Function Button (MFB) that is marked with the Blue Ant symbol. Unlike most other Bluetooth devices this device has the (+) button behind the (-) button. The MFB lights up solid blue, rather than flashing when it turns on, after holding it down for 3 seconds, and flashing blue, meaning its in discovery mode and ready for pairing in 6 seconds. On turning off it flashes red. A bit confusing, but you get used to it.
The Z9i is packed with an assortment of goodies. The packaging is unique. It is a bit hard to open, but it can be opened from the top or the bottom. The top allows access to the actual Z9i unit, and the lower compartment hides all the other goodies; the manual, a mini-short cut manual (figure below), a charger, a USB cable, two ear hooks (clear and the black as displayed in the photo) which are adjustable, and an assortment of ear bud sizes. Battery life is more than adequate. With one weeks use I have only recently needed to charge it. Blue Ant reports approximately 5.5 hours of Talk time with up to 200 hours of Standby time. This is an understatement, as I used the earpiece, I am ashamed to say, for more than 4 hours on the first day. What can I say, I was eager to try out my new Bluetooth’s abilities.
The Z9i takes time, as with all Bluetooth devices, to find the right earpiece, but it fits well and is comfortable. Care must be taken to point the mic in the front towards your mouth. It is sensitive and makes a difference in terms of the sound quality the participant on the other line hears. In the picture of the underside you can see a metal bar that extends into the front is a clip that can be used to hold the earpiece to your shirt while not in use.
The Z9i has excellent sound quality. When paired with my LG Venus the voice recognition software of the phone is unstoppable. This phone picks up your voice and the words you speak without yelling. It requires a normal or even soft tone even when I tested it on the noisy streets of Manhattan. When speaking on the phone you can adjust the “noise cancellation software” to max from standard by holding the MFB for 1 second while in a phone call. You will hear a voice that says “Voice Isolation to Max.” The trick though is to find the right sized ear bud, and ear hook and to make sure the mic is aimed at your mouth. The Z9i boasts some nice features, including a redial! The MFB is not the only multi-functional button. Hold the (+) sign for 3 seconds and it redials the last number.
This small wonder boasts noise cancelling technology, which can be adjusted as I mentioned above. It is pretty good, but one thing to note was that people on the other line could hear really loud jack-hammering or construction noises in the background of New York City, yet they could hear it more clearly. The noise cancelling technology works by using two mics to selectively cancel out background noise, and does a decent job at it. Yet the software breaks down around very loud noises, such as that from a construction crew. Otherwise background wind noises and other annoyances where non-existent.
Along with improved noise cancellation software as compared to the Z9 predecessor, it comes with improved PC upgradeability via firmware updates using the USB. Additional improvements of the Z9i include increased multiple device pairing. The Z9i can be paired with up to five devices, and can be connected to two devices simultaneously.
We tested this by pairing the Z9i simultaneously with a BlackBerry and the LG Venus. Pairing the devices was no problem, and we were able to connect to both phones simultaneously. Then the test began, and indeed with the ring of either phone, the simple push of the main MFB button, the Z9i was connected. Answering the other phone while on a phone call with Phone 1 was possible and placed the other call on hold. It took me a while to learn how, but that’s where Blue Ant’s quick-start guide’s “Button Function Matrix,” a cheat sheet, came in handy. (See the photo below.)
To place one phone call (phone 1 on the cheat sheet) on hold while answering the call on the other phone (phone 2) you need to press and hold the (+) volume button for 3 seconds. To end the call on the second phone and return to first you need to click the MFB button. To answer the second phone while ending the call on first one needs to press and hold the (-) volume button for 3 seconds. This took a while to learn, but became more intuitive when one realizes that the Blue Ant (+) (-) keys where placed in the logical order for this. (+) to answer and hold, the first button after the MFB, and the farther (-) key to hang up phone 1 and answer phone 2. This is a great feature if you have two cell phones, or have are using the Bluetooth for online calls using software like Skype.
- The Blue Ant Z9i is a small, sleek and stylish Bluetooth headset that is sensibly comfortable.
- The noise- isolation technology is impressive.
- If needed, it can work with multiple devices and does so marvelously.
- The firmware and software are upgradeable.
- The Blue Ant Z9i has too many controls for the average user. (The cheat sheet is nice but necessary.)
- It has stiff volume controls that require bracing under the piece prior to being depressed.
- The in-ear cushioning needs to be improved if it is meant to be used without the ear hooks.