The World's Most Advanced DSP-Powered Bluetooth Headset

With the holidays fast approaching, we here at Legit Reviews thought we would take one last shot at evaluating some last minute gift ideas. We come to you today with yet another Bluetooth headset review for you to consider.

In the past we have looked at fairly "mainstream" models from Motorola and Sony Ericsson and have found both to be fairly reliable models that function well depending on the types of equipment you use. Today, we look at yet a different approach to headset technology, the Gennum nXZEN Plus.

Gennum nXZEN Plus Bluetooth Headset

One of the things that Gennum touts about this set is the noise-reduction technology that allows you to use the wireless headset in all sorts of conditions: moving car with windows open, talking in a noise area such as a bar or a mall setting. Gennum claims that their "Frontwave" technology and algorithms removes background noise and enhances speech when using the nXZEN headsets.

What you get in the box

Let?s check out how well the nXZEN Plus works in our real-world test. As always, we will be using two Bluetooth enabled cell phones: the Treo 650, and the Motorola RAZR. The Treo has been by far our most finicky device only working with a handful of devices, while the RAZR has yet to meet a Bluetooth device that it didn?t like.

The nXZEN Headset Bundle

Inside the box:

Setting up the nXZEN Plus Bluetooth Headset

This is one of the smallest and lightest units we have tested at only 1 inch x 3.3 inches and less than 17 grams. Gennum claims 7 hours of talk time and 100 hours of stand-by which places it very competitive to other leaders of Bluetooth wireless headsets.

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The nXZEN (pronounced "nex-zen") uses a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and a two microphone array setup to help improve noise reduction. Gennum ships the headset with two flavors: the nXZEN and the nXZEN Plus, which allows users to plug the headset into an MP3 or CD player for stereo sound and have the ability to answer incoming calls with the push of a single button. We didn?t do too much testing with the MP3 function, but for those that are looking for a headset with multiple uses; you might want to consider this amenity.

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An interesting design is that this headset comes with a variety of earbuds to help block out external sound effectively amplifying the conversation that you are listening to. This addition should make this set very clear to hear and should reduce the "hand-over-ear" time that Bluetooth headset users typically have when trying to hear a conversation.

Setting up the device

Set up of the nXZEN could hardly be easier. After entering "pairing" mode on both the headset and phone, both Treo and RAZR were able to find the headset in a timely manner.

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We selected one of the smaller "earbuds" to use with the device. It was initially a strange sensation having this bud in my ear canal, but whatever discomfort I felt was made up by the sound quality and volume of incoming phone calls. For those of you with "non-standard" size ears (you know who you are!), you may want to look at this headset fairly close because of the multitudes of fittings it has for your ear. Other headset companies should take heed in what Gennum has done in providing a wide variety of ear fittings out of the box. With that said, we found the comfort level of the nXZEN to be very good.

nXZEN Plus Performance and Usage

Performance

When receiving phone calls, the nXZEN was one of the loudest and brightest headsets that we have tested. Because of the focused sound that the earbuds provided, there was no longer a struggle to hear conversations in noisy environments.

That?s the good news. The bad news is that our main work-horse cell phone, the Treo 650 again had difficulty picking up incoming phone calls and switching to the headset after dialing. On average, it took the nXZEN 3-4 rings on the phone to ring once on the headset. Many times, the headset didn?t ring when a call was in-bound. When dialing out with a Treo, on average it took 2.5 rings before switching to the headset. The redial from the headset function worked extremely well. I could see using this feature on a regular basis. If I used this phone exclusively with my Treo 650, it would probably be an on-going nightmare. Let?s see how the Motorola RAZR does with this headset.

From its initial use, we see that the RAZR acts much different than the Treo in that incoming calls register with the headset almost right away. It was very rare that the phone would ring more than once before the headset would ring. For outgoing calls, the RAZR and the nXZEN Plus worked well together transferring calls after dialing quickly usually before the end of the first ring.

How Big Is The nXZEN Headset

When evaluating the sound quality of the headset we did a simple test: Call the Legit Review?s HQ from a variety of places?.a crowded mall, driving down the freeway with the windows down, during a football game with a small cheering crowd. We compared the voice mail messages left with the nXZEN to another "leading" Bluetooth headset and the results were pretty amazing.

The nXZEN Plus did indeed filter out a lot of the background noise from the environment which was quite impressive. We did however experience some "clipping" of words ? mostly at the beginning of sentences and that proved to be a little bothersome. I have to emphasize that this wasn?t during all conversations, only when the background ambient noise was loud and at a high level. Conversely, the other "leading" Bluetooth headset was very difficult to recognize and many words and phrases were lost during the messages left. The engineers at Gennum are clearly doing something right.

Under normal conditions, the nXZEN was a very good performer and on par with other headsets.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

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Ken Brown's Final Thoughts

Based on voice clarity and sound quality, Gennum?s nXZEN Plus Bluetooth headset is a solid entrant for Best Bluetooth headset. Whatever those Gennum engineers are doing with the DSP and noise cancelling algorithms seem to be working. All our testing done in loud environments were easy to hear upon playback. There was the occasional clipping of sentences, but overall, you really couldn?t ask for a better performance in a noisy environment.

Of course if you have Treo 650 ? buyer beware. This is not the set for you. We still recommend the Sony Erricson for seamless integration and functionality.

For everyone else, the Gennum?s nXZEN Plus is an extremely nice Bluetooth headset and is highly recommended ? especially those who want wireless functionality in a noisy environment. We have not tested a better noise-cancelling set.

For a street price of around $140, the nXZEN Plus is a pricey piece of equipment that we would recommend if you normally encounter noisy environments. As the saying goes, ?you get what you pay for?, this is by far the best noise-canceling Bluetooth headset that we have tested or used.

Legit Bottom Line

For those who are looking for a custom-fit, feature-rich Bluetooth headset ? if you have been a good girl or boy this year (and you have the budget), you might ask Santa to drop this one in you stocking!