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Home > Hardware Reviews > Mobiles

Friday, December 15, 2006
nXZEN VoIP Communication

1. The Review

logonXZEN VoIP Communication

nXZEN makes one of the finest noise cancellation headsets on the market - the 5000/5500 Headset offers great sound and amazing clarity - even in loud environments. Add to that the ability to use the headset and connect to a Bluetooth dongle on the PC and make VoIP calls and you might have the perfect solution. How does it all work?

A few months ago, I reviewed the nXZEN 5500 headset. I pretty much liked everything about it - (parts of that review will be re-printed in this review.) It is not cheap - but it does offer very good digital noise filtering which helps tremendously in loud rooms, the car or outside.

The new VoIP communication kit includes this fine headset and adds a small Bluetooth dongle and software for configuring both the headset/dongle combination and for setting up Skype - one of the most popular VoIP services available.

The concept is a great one - you can use one headset to pair with your Bluetooth mobile phone and to make calls over the internet using Skype.

So, how does it all work? Let's take a look.

The Official Line from nXZEN is:
Enjoy the freedom of wireless VoIP Communication
The nXZEN™ Bluetooth dongle has been custom built to make it even easier to use your nXZEN headset with your favorite Voice over IP (VoIP) application. Setting it up is a snap using the included nXZEN™ Dongle Manager Software. You will be making wireless VoIP calls in minutes using your PC and a broadband network connection. Answer incoming calls from your headset and stay connected up to 10m (33ft) from your PC or mobile phone.

Specifications:
nXZEN™
Model 5000 VoIP
Product Specs
- Bluetooth 1.2
- Weight:17 grams (0.54 oz)
- Size: Length 59.9mm Height 28.5 mm
- DSP Performance -120 MIPS
- Available in Silver
- Audio Path: 20-bit end-to-end path
- Talk Time: Up to 7 hours
- Standby Time: 100 hours
- Charge Time: 2 hours
- Battery: Lithium Polymer
- Four-Button Operation
- Multiple Device Pairing

What's in the Box?

The nXZEN VoIP communication package ships with the headset, a real AC adapter, a USB cable, a mini disc with manual, multiple ear loops and ear pieces, a quick reference guide to the buttons and a Bluetooth dongle and easy Skype setup guide.

Setup and Ease of Use:

I had read one review of the nXZEN saying that it was almost impossible to use with the Treo 650 but great with every other phone. Since my test device is none other than the Bluteooth challenged Treo - I was a bit nervous. That was all for naught, as pairing was as easy as can be. Unlike other headsets, there is actually a separate button used for pairing as opposed to the “one button for all” method applied by other manufacturers. Pairing worked on the first go round - just locate the headset using the Bluetooth setup on your phone, plug in 0000 and you are set to go.

Once the headset is set up - you need to put in the included mini-CD and wait for the prompt telling you to put in the Bluetooth Dongle (about the size of two sticks of gum.) Once the Dongle is configured, an icon in the task bar tells you that it is connected and whether the headset is connected or not.

Once I confirmed that all was working - I was ready to go. I then needed to install the latest version of Skype (which was a wonderful, user friendly experience.) Skype is so easy to use; you can set up contacts, address book, configure the options all in a matter of minutes.

The important thing is that once configured, all calls placed using Skype went immediately to the nXZEN headset.

Hardware Options:

The nXZEN has all the options you could ask for in a Bluetooth headset and then some. The headset supports both standard headset and hands free protocols. So, on a phone like the Treo, which can utilize a true “hands free” protocol, calls will automatically go to the headset without the user having to push any buttons whatsoever. On other phones, a simple push of the side button answers the call.

The headset also supports voice tags (which the Treo does not) as well as last number redial and call waiting initiation. You can also mute calls via the headset and transfer calls from the headset to the phone via the headset.

Software Options:

The nXZEN Dongle manager software was very simple to use. Set the mode (either using as a headset, Skype mode or for listening to Audio from your computer and then check the status of the headset - connected or disconnected.

The software also helps you if you need to pair or re-pair the device. It stays in the task bar and a simple right click brings up most of your user options.

Sound Quality:

The nXZEN is touted by the manufacturer as being the most technologically advanced headset on the market today. The claim is made based upon the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) technology used in this headset. The nXZEN uses twin microphones and the “FrontWave Extreme patented algorithm.) How does this work? I couldn't explain it to you if my life depended upon it - BUT - the Gennum website has some very cool audio files you can listen to which help show how effective it is.

The bottom line is that in “real world” tests, people could hear me better using this headset than any other headset I have tested - period. I could also hear very well.

With Skype calls - call quality was really at the mercy of the Internet connection. I could hear everyone beautifully. On a couple of calls, folks on the other end told me I sounded “garbled.”

I never heard this when I used the headset as a simple Bluetooth device (whoever thought the day would come where “Simple” and “Bluetooth” were used in the same sentence!)
Calls were always very clear and folks on the end of a cellular conversation were always impressed.

Conclusions:

This is great little headset all by itself. Couple it with the ability to use it for Skype calls or other VoIP calls and nXZEN has a real winner of a package on its hands. It is more expensive than other headsets on the market - I found the package for US$150 + on the web but I am sure it will be available for less at other online e-tailers. If you are interested in the convenience of being able to use a great headset in a secondary capacity as a VoIP headset as well - you just can't beat this package.

Pros:

  • lightweight
  • easy to use
  • comfortable
  • great sound quality and good noise cancellation
  • easy to use with Skype

Cons:

  • expensive

Information on the nXZEN VoIP communication package can be found at www.nxzen.com




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