Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-505: Review

I was asked to write a review of this Nokia Bluetooth Headset, which is advertised as offering convenient on-the-go access to music and calls for those with an active lifestyle. I’ve got two questions: is it any good? and, is it of use to snowboarders?

Note that this review is based on use with an iPhone.

The basics

Getting connected. This was easy. I turned it on, switched on bluetooth on the phone and then allowed the connection. Easy.

Sound quality. The sound for listening to music is pretty good actually, certainly better than I was expecting, although this is the first bluetooth music setup I’ve tried. If I was being critical I’d say the base is a slight weakness, but overall, the sound quality is a plus.

Cutting out external noise. The in-ear buds are pretty snug and as such, physically keep out a lot of background noise. The headset has “advanced digital signal processing” technology, designed to cut out external noise, such as wind. It’s hard to know how much the DSP contributes, but it’s fair to say that external noise is blocked out well.

Physical controls. There are two main buttons: play/pause and answer/end. They’re a little fiddley at first. There’s too much resistence on them to just push in with your finger; you end up pushing the bud further into your ear and that’s not comfortable. I found that I need to use my thumb and fore-finger. It’s not a big compaint, it just makes it a little more “fiddley” to pause or answer a call…

Taking a call. To me, this was the simple task that the device had to do well, and it works nicely. If you’re listening to music and you get a call it’s one touch and then you’re connected. The caller’s voice sounds clear, your voice is clear (apparently) and you can adjust the volume. Nice one. When the call ends you just press play to set the music away again…

Device dependant features. The functionality of the headset is constrained by the device that it’s paired with. For example, with the iPhone I can easily adjust the volume of the track, but couldn’t get it to skip forward to the next song.

All pretty good.

Using it actively on the move

So how active can you be?

My first comment here is the lack of adjustability to create a custom fit. The headset is light-weight and the buds fit nicely into my ears; it’s comfortable to wear sitting down or even walking. But the (small amount) of weight for the unit is at the back of the band, so it’s doesn’t work well when running for example – it just wobbles up and down. That’s a no-go.

Headgear compatibility. The headset doesn’t fit with a snowboard helmet and sliding a beanie over the top doesn’t work. Add in your goggles and there’s little chance anyone is going to use this on the hill.

With these two factors, for anything like snowboarding or skateboarding, it’s just not practical.

There are certain activities, those where the head is relatively stable I suppose, in which the headset will sit still and be comfortable. Cycling sprung to mind straight away. I could keep my phone in the pack, listen to music with no wires getting in the way and if I get a call I can answer it while cycling – hands free! But there are a couple of problems here. Most cyclists wear a helmet and, it’s not always safe to listen to music while riding along.

The gym perhaps?

Conclusion

The concept is good: wireless access to your music and calls meaning that you can be “hands free”. What’s more the sound quality is good and external noise is blocked out. It does this bit well.

I’m struggling to think of an active pursuit that would really benefit from the hands-free access, given the limitations of the headset’s physical shape.

It may be more appealing to those regularly “on the move” – perhaps taking calls walking in the city, stood up on a busy train or tube – listen to decent music with easy access to calls…


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