Nokia BH-214 Bluetooth Headset Review

This is the first of what may become a series of techie reviews. The upshot is, I’ve done a few reviews in the past on books, bits of technology that have either been things I’ve bought myself or those that have been sent to me from companies like Toshiba but Nokia have agreed to send me various bits of kit to play with and generally say what I think ‘which is nice’. (That’s an in joke between me and an old Finnish mate, who coincidentally also works for Nokia).

The deal is, just so everyone’s clear. I don’t get to keep anything, get paid for writing nice things and anyone who has been reading my blog in the past knows I’ll give credit where it’s due but not hold back on criticism or where I think things are lacking.

So here is the little unit in it’s box which is the first area I’d like to comment on.

I know most manufacturers have gone down the road in recent years in reducing packaging which is a very good thing and there’s plenty of recyclable card and plastic in the packaging for the BH-214 but looking at what’s in the box, it’s clear that it’s not the unit itself that takes up the majority of the volume but the charger.

I think there would be a good argument in shipping this device without a charger unit which could really save space and packaging.

The charger in question is a box standard Nokia charger with the small 2mm jack. Odds on anyone purchasing this device already has one of these, I’ve got three, I think.

A better solution would be for the unit itself to have a Micro-USB port that can be used to charge either via PC or the new generation of standardised chargers and ship with a simple adapter cable like came with my N900 to convert between an old 2mm jack charger and Micro-USB.

This could also open up the possibility of extending the function of the device to not only what it is but also allow it to be used as a Bluetooth dongle for a computer, which could be quite handy at times.

With the wishlist out of the way, we come down to the unit itself which is a two tone white and light grey moulded case, clip on the back for attaching to lapels, power button on the top with indicator LED’s, volume control on the side and navigation/call option button on the front.

It comes with a default set of in-ear headphones of the rubbery ear plug variety that seem to come with everything these days.

The headphones are detachable and has a standard 3.5mm audio jack which makes swapping them out for any other earphones easy. I’ll not here, and it’s not a criticism of the produst but I just simple don’t like these rubbery in-ear headphones. Not just the set that came with the BH-214 but all of them. I accept it may just be me and I have funny shaped/small ear canals but I can never get the damn things to stay in.

However as this is a review I persisted with the default headphones for the duration and dropping out aside, the sound quality was particularly good.

Connectivity was flawless in all the devices I tested it with (Nokia N97, E90, 5800 and N900) with no interference of drops in playback with music or calls.

All the functionality worked on the handsets barring the N900 which doesn’t support everything (yet, I hope), but I already knew and expected that.

I had the device for a fortnight and although I didn’t do any specific battery strength tests on it, I did only charge it twice in that time and it still had plenty of juice left after the second charge.

The one thing I did enjoy doing with it was hooking it up to my hifi via the audio jack to aux sockets making it perfectly possible to live stream music direct from my mobile phone which surprisingly lost very little in audio quality compared to a fully wired connection.

This was however a bit of a problem when I got a call and ended up conducting it through the speakers of my hifi which probably felt a little weird to the delivery guy on the other end.

In conclusion the BH-214 is a very nifty little bit of kit. Does what it says on the tin and does it well. Good battery life and offers a few options in connectivity to play about with. For the price it’s not a bad alternative for using to live stream music around the house and turn the concept of a home media server on its head.

The only criticism that I would lay at the device which to be fair is understandable given it’s small size; is the inability to remove the battery (at least I couldn’t figure out a way to remove it). The environmentalist in me likes the ability to change over elements of hardware that will eventually degrade over time which in most electronic devices is the battery so that would have been nice.

(This post was written entirely on a Nokia N900 using WordPress for Maemo 0.5.4a)