Nokia Essence (BH 610) Bluetooth Stereo headset review

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First, I would like to thank Mika Kangas for helping me with getting the Nokia Essence Bluetooth stereo headset for this review.  Nokia Essence Bluetooth Stereo Headset (BH-610) was announced in Hong Kong back in August 2011 and personally, I think it was overshadowed by the attention given to the Monster Purity in-ear headset (WH-920), also released in 2011.  I enjoy listening to music while I am on the road, on the ellyptical in my basement and it's a great way for me to relax.  I have gone through dozens of in ear headsets (Sennheiser, Bose, Sony, Nokia, just to name a few).  What caught my attention about the Essence is that it is wireless and uses Bluetooth or NFC to effortlessly connect  to your mobile phone, ultrabook, or speakers.  Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is another great feature that would make a potential buyer purchase the headset. 

I have already highlighted some of the main features of the Essence BT Headset in the previous paragraph. This is a brief review of the packaging, unit. I will explain why this headset is worth buying.

 

In the box

  •  Essence Bluetooth stereo headset (in-ear)
  •  Carrying pouch
  •  Neck strap
  •  2 mm wall charger
  •  Ear buds (6 pairs)
  •  User guide

Click on this link to see our Flickr photo set of the unboxing of the Essence Bluetooth stereo headset.

I will be going over some of the main features of this headset below.

Charging

  • Essence uses the Nokia proprietary 2 mm pin charger that many of us know from Symbian devices and accessories. I believe some might find it a nuisance to carry an extra charger. The Essence BT headset might have looked differently if Nokia opted for the standard micro USB charging port.
  • It takes less than an hour to fully charge the headset and you get approximately eight hours of talk (with ANC turned off) and 240 hours in stand by mode.

Design

  • ANC on/off button. Nokia claims that the Essence is a Bluetooth stereo headset with ANC enabled you will get up to 99.8% noise cancellation for the purest in-ear audio ever'. It uses 'Bass perfection active noise cancelation to remove background noise which creates a balanced sound in any noisy place. (Source: Essence Bluetooth stereo headset packaging). Voice conversations are very clear according to Lenny who I have tested the voice calls with.
  • Bass/Treble Equalizer button. You could activate or deactivate Bass or Treble to suit your preference.
  • Volume keys
  • Indicator light
  • Charging port
  • Forward-Play/Pause-Multi function key/On=Off switch-Rewind button
  • Ear piece You receive six pairs ear buds for the ear piece
  • Microphone
  • NFC NFC area is located between the forward button and the Nokia logo
  • Clip There's a clip on the back of the headset which allows you to easily clip the headset to any garment.

Compatibility/Connectivity

  • You can use BT or NFC to connect to a device. You can use the traditional BT pairing to connect your Essence headset to your device. There is a variety of NFC enabled products (Samsung Galaxy S 3, HTC One X, Sony Xperia ion) and accessories (Play 360, PlayUp, PowerUp) that have been released recently. I have not been able to connect an Android NFC enabled device to the Play 360 or the Essence.
  • Since it's a wireless headset, you would not have to worry if your device has the correct audio jack. The wired headset that came with the Lumia 800 would not work on my Symbian phones and having a wireless headset would definitely eliminate any incompatibility issues.

Comparing Essence to big brother BH-905i

Here's a comparison between the two Nokia wireless BT headsets I own. One is in-ear and the other is over the head. I used the BH-905i for traveling to Asia and Europe and you don't hear the plane engine when ANC is on. BH-905i weighs a lot more and since the Essence is only 32 grams, it won't take up too much space too.

Headset Essence (BH-610)  BH-905i
Type of headset in-ear over the head
Weight  32 grams  167 grams
Charger 2 mm pin charger 2 mm pin charger
Calls mobile, VOIP mobile, VOIP 
Mic  Integrated ANC mic  dual mic
Talk time

 8 hours-w.o. ANC

240 hrs standby

15 hr-w. ANC/24 hr-w.o. ANC

600 hrs standby

Charge time 45 minutes max 2 hours
Compatibility  Bluetooth/NFC wireless  Bluetooth (2.1) wireless & wired
Suggested retail price +/- US $112 Amazon.de mkpl  US $299 Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw the Essence headset at the Nokia Store Mongkok when I was in Hong Kong earlier this year and the retail price is a little over US $110.  I have not been able to find them in the US and it looks like many EU online retailers carry the Essence BH-610. I have attached a link above in the table for both BH-610 and BH-905i.

 

Disclaimer:

I was able to pair the Essence headset with my iPad, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S III via Bluetooth.  I have not been able to use NFC to connect to the HTC One X, Sony Xperia ion or Samsung Galaxy S III. It seems that NFC enabled Android phones were able to pair but the protol differs from Nokia's NFC and could therefore not communicate with each other.

Verdict:

I have used the headset for two weeks now and I would highly recommend the Essence Bluetooth headsets because of the build quality, and amazing sound with ANC enabled. I use them in the car for hands free chat; during exercise routine, and even in the supermarket to block all the noise around me. Beside mobile calls, I have used it for VOIP and the calls were exceptionally clear.

I hope Nokia will update this device and include wireless charging like the recently announced PlayUp, PowerUp speakers and they should introduce some new bold Lumia colors. Nokia should definitely start selling them outside of Europe and Asia.

I received the Plantronics Backbeat Go 2  from AT&T last week and will review and see how it compares to the Essence in a future post.  I hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to leave a comment below or send me a tweet (@jjklee).

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