Sunday, February 10, 2008

Review: Sennheiser BW900 Bluetooth Wireless Office Headset

I'm part of the awesome writing team over at GearDiary lead by my friend Judie Lipsett.

The goal with Gear Diary and our writing team is to write about what's on our mind in addition to the reviews that will be done. We do not want to emulate other sites - rather we want to forge something unique, something that isn't easily pigeonholed. Yes, we cover mobility devices, but we will also cover off the wall topics, toys, appliances, watches, knives, tools - whatever we are interested in - our GEAR. The thought is that if it interests one of us, someone else will find it interesting, too.

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Here's a recent review that I wrote over at www.GearDiary.com.

I can hear you: The Sennheiser BW900 Bluetooth Wireless Office Headset REVIEW

In today’s mobile work world, many are escaping the cubicle world by working at home or at least telecommuting. Even stay at home moms (and dads) are able to conduct thriving cottage businesses thanks to eBay, biz dev or creative arts scenarios – the possibilities are endless, especially for entrepreneurs.

Having worked at home for several years, having the necessary tools to conduct business is a must to connect with clients worldwide. Obviously Internet access, a powerful computer, and a mobile phone are just starters. A landline is necessary for a fax machine, plus alarm systems and DirecTV.

The Sennheiser BW900 Bluetooth Wireless Office Headset Solution is in its own performance class and is the perfect accessory for home office (and work) use. Sennheiser has produced a headset that not only works with your Bluetooth mobile phone, but also with a landline (!)

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Let’s unbox this beauty and see what how this Sennheiser BW900 works.

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Inside the box (I love packaging that oozes coolness) is a 60 page Quick Guide. Actually it is only six pages in ten languages, so the set up is easy. A companion User Manual disk is available – there is no software to install.

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Pictured is the rechargeable Li-polymer battery, partially pre-charged, 3 speaker adjustment rings in sizes S, M and L, microphone windshield and the BW 900 Bluetooth headset

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Here is the BW 900 base station, phone connecting cable and the power supply.

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Unwrapped, here is the headset with a long gooseneck styled microphone wire that swivels and extends down to your mouth. There is an optional foam windscreen with three ear covers in different sizes.

The Sennheiser BW900 headset comes with a charging cradle and power supply, and a RJ-H phone connector cable. Once it is hooked up to a desk phone, a simple press of a button will answer incoming land calls. It also easily pairs with your PDA and cell phone that has Bluetooth with the phones I tested. Whether an iPhone, Blackjack, Treo, HTC or Samsung, once paired (enter 0000) incoming and outgoing mobile calls are crisp and clear.

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Here’s the technical data:


  • Technology: Bluetooth Class 1, version 1.2

  • Range of operation : Up to 100 meters / 330 ft

  • Radio frequency power : Transmission power adjusted according to range of operation

  • Digital Signal Processing: Sennheiser specific “Adaptive Intelligence” decision-making

  • Talk time : Infinite with optional extra battery

  • Weight of headset : 26 g / 0.9 oz

  • Microphone : Noise canceling

  • Speaker, SPL : Max. 104 dB limited by ActiveGard™

  • Wearing style : Over-the-ear (left or right ear)

  • Personal fit : 3 adjustment speaker rings


We’ve reviewed many Bluetooth wireless headsets here at GearDiary. They all pair easily with smartphones with varying price points and sound quality. Some are multi purpose, switching easily between the phone and Skype on the PC. However what makes this headset unique is pairing with land based phones.

The headset itself houses a user-removable battery.

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The headset is housed in the cradle, which charges the battery via two contact points n the cradle.

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Also there is a charging bay for a second battery. If you’re on a long distance call to Japan or England with a client, then the Sennheiser BW900 has the ability to consistently maintain the call in progress with its 4-5 hours of talk time. If needed, then the battery is hot swappable with a spare battery available for $38 MSRP. One battery is supplied with the unit.

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Once the cradle is hooked up to your land based wired phone, on the side door of cradle is a dial to calibrate the volume level of the line and volume settings.

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There is no need to invest in a fancy or expensive land phone, as a basic phone with a keypad works well. All that you're doing is routing the connection from the handset to the cradle for the option of using the phone either by the handset or the BW900 headset with a push of the button on the cradle.

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On the button to the left, in "up" mode, the headset is deactivated. The office phone works via the regular handset. On the headset itself, pressing the button for 4 seconds will turn off the headset. Using the same button will accept calls or by pressing the right button on the base station.

Above the button on the headset are the volume controls. In addition there are LED lights that flash on the headset just below the battery and on the base station.

There are some many functions to go into such as voice dialing, switching calls between the handset and headset, musting, redialing, etc., but if you have experience with a Bluetooth headset, then it is very intuitive to operate the Sennheiser BW90.

There are additional accessories besides a spare battery, such as a handset lifter. Also a connection to a PC and a PDA can be made also. Full details are available online via a PDF user manual.

As for comfort, it takes a few minutes to adjust to the size and the extended microphone, as most Bluetooth earpieces require squeezing the earplug inside your ear canal.

senn guy

Instead, the ear speaker slides outwards to let you slip the BW900 on for either ear, and then inwards over your ear canal. They are basically open speakers that sit on top of the ear. The sound and the fit over the top of the ear is surprising light.

With the adjustable boom microphone close to your mouth, the person on the other end of the phone can hear clearly. Even those in close proximity won’t be offended by your conversations, because over time, your conversations will be softer. Consider the fact that all most Bluetooth devices' microphones are far away from the mouth, thus most of us tend to talk louder to compensate for the “you sound like you’re in a barrel, talk louder, I can’t hear you” response.

As for performance, the Sennheiser BW 900 is simply wonderful to use. Connected to a landline, one can wander easily up to the advertised 330 feet. According to the website, “The wireless link uses Bluetooth Class 1, which supports a range of up to 100 m (330 ft.) so that you are free to roam around the office being hand-free.” At home, I’m generally constrained to 40 – 50 feet is either direction as my home office is in the middle of the ranch style house. Still, the quality is awesome indoors or outdoors. I did want to try it at the downtown office for longer ranges, but since the phone system is Internet based, the handsets did not have the available RJ-H phone connectors.

Sennheiser touts the use of Adaptive Intelligence technology used in the BW900 headset:
“Adaptive Intelligence is the sound processing and decision-making center of the BW 900, enabling the headset to provide the optimal speech intelligibility for both you and the person you talk to – in any situation.

Adaptive Intelligence enables the headset to react intelligently both to the incoming signal content and to your surrounding environment. It monitors the way you use the headset and adapts its response to match.

Digital processing, featuring VoiceFinder™ technology and TriState Noise Management™, enables the headset to identify and accentuate human speech while removing distracting noise for both you and your listener.”

Basically the microphone is optimized for quality voice transmission, while equalizing the sound quality and filtering out the background ambient sound whether outdoors by the central air unit or in a car with its wind noise.

The times that I work remotely from home, I have the luxury of working outside on the patio with my WiFi coffee shop quality signal, laptop and the ability to switch between landline and Bluetooth calls with a press of the button either on the headset or via the cradle. It’s that easy and the sound quality is superb.

Two hour conference calls are much more tolerable using the Sennheiser BW 900. The device is not for everyone. At $389.95 list, the BW900 is intended for home based and business users that demand an exceptional wireless audio experience. If the bulk of one’s time is spent in a home office on the phone, then the BW900 with its sound and comfort quality is worth its weight in gold. I’ve been using the Sennheiser BW900 for several months and it delivers flawlessly.

No one likes being on the receiving end of a call that sounds like you're calling from a barrel. From a customer / client standpoint, crisp and clear calls originating from a land line is generally preferable. If you can afford it, it will serve you well. Checking around online, there are some good discounts available.

MRSP: $389.95 (discount up to 33% - $261.62 - at Amazon)

More information including a user manual PDF and dealer locations for the Sennheiser BW900 Bluetooth wireless headset can be found at the Sennheiser website

What I Like: The list price may scare off some, but for home and office use the sound quality is outstanding. Light weight, no ear fatigue nor complaints from parties on the other end of the conversation. The cradle can hook to any basic wired land phone. Easy to use and set up. Works well with tested Bluetooth phones.

What Needs Improvement: Hard to find at traditional retailers.

3 comments:

bwninzer said...

I agree the BW900 is in a class all it's own. I dig your review and the pics are great too. I'm hoping there will be a new generation that will allow beeping alerts for incoming calls.

BW900 Source

Jim said...

I am having trouble with static on the receiver of the BW900 when paired with my cell phone.
Any body else having this problem?
Transmission quality is excellent but ...............

Anonymous said...

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Katherine Flouee
Block phone