First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
- — 21 August, 2007 10:42
Sporting a stylish design, unique Voice Isolation Technology, dual microphones, and a clip that attaches to your shirt or tie when not in use, BlueAnt's hotly anticipated Z9 Bluetooth headset certainly doesn't disappoint. It's without a doubt one of the best Bluetooth headsets on the market, combining a compact and attractive design with excellent voice quality and noise isolation.
The Z9 offers a number of unique features, the best of which is undoubtedly BlueAnt's patented Voice Isolation Technology, which allows Z9 users the choice between two modes of Voice Isolation - standard and max. The former is for normal everyday environments, such as in the home or office, while the latter should be used in noisy areas, such as driving in busy city traffic. These modes are easily switched during a conversation by pressing the multifunction button (MFB); a voice lets you know what mode you are in, either "voice isolation max", or "voice isolation standard".
We are pleased to say the technology works extremely well, achieving crisp and clear conversation when using the max voice isolation setting in a noisy environment. The Z9 also uses dual microphones. BlueAnt even goes so far to say it offers "pure speech". We are inclined to agree, as our conversations were largely loud, crisp and clear. Further, the Z9 handles wind noise well, and does an excellent job of echo cancellation too. Our only complaint is the voice informing you each time you change the isolation mode; while it plays, you can't hear your caller, although this only lasts for two or three seconds, so it isn't a massive issue.
Design wise, the Z9 is an excellent piece of craftsmanship. It measures just 41mm x 17.5.mm x 11.2mm and weighs only 11g. The gloss black finish does attract fingerprints, but creates a stylish aesthetic. Combined with the translucent, detachable ear hook (which can be worn on both ears) and soft rubber casing around the speaker, the Z9 sits comfortably in your ear and isn't annoying to wear for long periods. The etched BlueAnt logo and flashing LED surrounding the MFB buttons are also a nice touch, as is the built in clip on the rear; it neatly clips onto a tie, shirt or blouse when the headset is not in use.
Like most of these devices, using the Z9 is pretty straight forward. It can pair with up to three phones, and uses what BlueAnt calls 'On-the-Fly' switching, making it easy to change between multiple devices. Turning on the pairing mode is as easy as holding the MFB down for six seconds. Once paired, functions are simple and easy; click the MFB to answer a call, and hold it for three seconds to end a call. Reject an incoming call by holding the MFB for three seconds when your phone is ringing, and redial your last number by holding the volume up button for three seconds. Additional functions include activating voice dialling (provided this is supported by your phone), transferring a call from the headset to your phone, muting the microphone, activating call waiting and holding a conference call. The Z9 can also assign different ring-tones for known and unknown contacts.
The Z9 has a reasonable, but not outstanding 5.5 hrs talk-time and 200 hrs standby. Conveniently, BlueAnt includes both a USB cable (for charging via a PC or notebook) and an AC adapter. There are also two spare ear hooks, and this is quite convenient as they can be easily lost when removed. To top off the package, the Z9 comes with a two year replacement warranty for extra piece of mind.