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I had promised you that I would be reviewing the Nokia BH-903, which I had got from WOMWorld along with the E71 and the Mapsters collectible. I know the review is a little late, but I am going to have a head to head comparison of the Nokia bluetooth headset and the Jabra bluetooth headset. Watch out people, this is going to get dirty!

Design:
The Nokia BH-903 is shaped like a pendant, with two earphones coming out from the top. The finish of this pendant is very nice. It felt sophisticated(which it is) and heavy. I thought that this pendant would be really heavy. It is long and thin. Very unlike the Nokia N series phones which closely resembles in terms of design. Upon holding it, I realized that it was very light although wearing a pendant this long would be a little weird.
The Jabra BT-3030 is also shaped like a pendant, well actually in its case it is designed to resemble a ‘dog-tag’. The finish of this pendant is in metal. It also has rubber at its sides. This pendant really is heavy. It short and thick compared to the Nokia BH-903. Its designed to withstand rough usage and it conveys that attitude. The BT-3030 is not aimed for the executive or woman on the move but rather at someone who as a very active lifestyle. It is definitely ‘urban and edgy’ as the company says.

Build Quality and Materials:
The BH-903 is built using plastics and fabric. The pendant is completely made of plastic and has a piano finish on the front end. This looks very stylish but is a fingerprint magnet. Also it can be very prone to scratches. But rest assured there aren’t any flaws with the build quality. It is built to look like one seamless piece. There are no gaps in the pendant or any other issues. The neck support for the pendant is finished in a sporty fabric. It is soft and seems like it is capable in sucking up the occasional sweat. The fabric will however suck in a lot of dust in daily use. It is likely that the fabric will lose its shine then. Hygiene could be an issue.
The BT-3030 is made up of metal and rubber. The pendant is made using stainless steel, silicon rubber, PC/ABS, rubber paint and POM (whatever all that is!!!) The main pendant uses steel as the main ingredient for its design. The PC/ABS enclosure(black ring) is used to protect the device from falls and unintentional hits. Since there is steel, expect a few fingerprints to show. The pendant has definitely been built to withstand the rigors of an active lifestyle. It can easily take a few knocks and still perform like it nothing happened. The lanyard cable is finished off with steel beads ala dog tags. With the optional clothes clip, you can make sure it doesn’t dangle unnecessarily in your neck. A good thought indeed.

Features:
The BH-903 is a stereo bluetooth device and thus it supports the A2DP profile and it also supports the AVRCP profile. This means you listen to music in stereo and you can control the music player wirelessly.It can be paired with only one device at a time. What stands out in this device is that it has built in radio and a 1 inch OLED screen. Very neat features indeed. One does not need to connect it to a phone to listen to music. Just switch it on, go the menu and select radio. The headset is rated for 11 hours music playback and 150 hours of standby time. I was easily able to get 10 hours from it from a single charge. I stopped using the headset when I saw that the battery was low so no doubts of its claims there. The buttons for the BH-903 are a little oddly placed. Normally you would find the D-pad to have buttons in the four direction and not in the corners. The device has 9 buttons in total on the pendant. The silver round button switches the device on and off, it also locks the device. The metallic button is the menu key to access the different features of the device. The central square button is the selection button. One button which is hidden is the call button which placed after the ‘menu’ key. The large plastic portion is actually the call receive and call end button. The D-pad which houses the selection button also houses the direction button for the menu (the two dots) and at the corners the music buttons. The top two corners house the fast forward/forward skip key and rewind/backward skip key. The lower part houses the stop and play/pause keys. So where’s the volume key. That’s exactly what I was left thinking. Oh, its there just not how one would expect it to be. The volume keys are the full D-pad (naviwheel). Yes, the BH-903 follows the iPod style of increasing and decreasing the volume. Move your finger against the D-pad in clockwise direction and you are increasing the volume and to decrease the volume just move your finger in the anti-clockwise direction, simple! I really liked the execution of this feature in the BH-903. The D-pad keys were a little spongy and unresponsive at times. One very thoughtful addition is the position of the mic. The mic is not inside the pendant, no, it is in the small little box attached to the right side of the earphone. Not only that, you can receive an end the calls by clicking the black portion. There is also a very small ‘mute’ key at the right side of the box. The music control keys are the only lit up keys on the device. They are lit up in a very soft white light, which goes very well with the device.
The BT-3030 too features A2DP, AVRCP. In addition to that it also has DSP (Digital Signal Processing) which allows for volume to be controlled according to the noise and also provides acoustic shock protection. The BT-3030 does not have a built-in radio. The device is rated for 7 hours of music playback and 8 hours of talk time. It has a standby time of 230 hours. I have easily been able to squeeze about 6 1/2 hours from the device before it went dead. The BT-3030 has just six keys which do everything for the bluetooth device, from pairing to controlling the volume and changing the tracks, etc. The positioning of the keys is also unorthodox. The first key is the play/pause key followed by the forward/skip and rewind/backward skip keys, next come the volume keys and lastly the ‘call’ key. The metal face is very functional without losing out on looks. The Jabra name acts like the status light. It blinks blue when switched on and connected, purple when listening to music, green when volume has been set to the max and red when the battery is low. This device is also splash proof. So it can take the occasional water splash without getting spoilt. Pairing is easy and two devices can be simultaneously connected to it. The mic is embedded withing the pendant.

Both the devices have a multitude of features which can be used through different keys/buttons and combinations.

Earphones:
This is the most important aspect for any bluetooth headset, the earpiece/earphone.
The BH-903 has non-removable earphones which are adjustable. The audio quality is good, but seems to lack a punch in songs that are bass intensive. The earphones are nevertheless clear and good for daily listening. The earphones come with a set of ear cushions and rubber moulds. The user can use either one of them as per his convenience or even both. I found the size of the earphones a little bothersome, while the right earphone gave me no problems, the left one was a little loose and I was repeatedly attending to it. That is not good, especially when the earphones cannot be removed and replaced, the least that Nokia could have done was to provide good earphones that would fit a wide variety of ear cavities and give that ‘thump’.
The BT-3030 features noise canceling earphones which are removable. A good thing too, since this too does not deliver that ‘thump’ I was talking of earlier. But what is good about it is, that they fit perfectly into the ear cavity. Also there are three different sizes of rubber provided to suit the size of the user’s ear cavity. The earphones are clear and give a good output. They are marginally better than the BH-903, only marginally. But since you can plug in any other earphones (a standard 3.5mm plug is what connects the earphones to the pendant) the user is free to plug in his favoured headphones/earphones. I am going to be picking a good set of headphones soon, so lets see how it goes.

Charger:
The BH-903 uses the standard 2mm plug. This means that one can easily charge the phone with the new ‘thin pin’ chargers of Nokia. The devices ships with the AC-5E charger, which is the same that comes with the E66 and E71. Charging is quick and it takes about 2 hours to charge completely. This will obviously vary from the amount of charge left.
The BT-3030 uses a Mini USB charger. Again a Nokia, Samsung, LG user will have to carry an extra charger to charge it. But there is an advantage to this kind of a setup. You can charge it from the USB port of the computer too, if you have the USB to Mini USB wire. The device came with a Mini USB wall charger. This device also takes the same amount of time to charge completely.

Price:
The BH-903 certainly seems more expensive of the two. I was unable to get pricing of the headset in India. But on Amazon it costs around $200.
The BT-3030 cost me around Rs.3800 which works out to about $76. As you can see the BT-3030 costs approx. 1/3rd of the price.

Now that I have talked about both, you would be wondering which one is better. Personally, I would prefer the Jabra as it has a set of removable earphones. But when it comes to battery life Nokia takes the cake. It is also lighter of the two. In terms of design Jabra is better. Feature wise the BH-903 takes the top honours. So which is the better of the two? Both are in a league of their own. Jabra, with removable earphones and a superior finish with the optional clip allows it to be used without fear of scratches and also be upgraded. It also costs less.

But if you don’t want to look like edgy, then the BH-903 is for you. It’s design is classy and it offers good audio quality, great battery life and a screen coupled with a naviwheel to control the volume.

In terms of absolute number of features, it is the Nokia BH-903 which comes out on top. And in terms of design, upgradability and price it is the Jabra BT-3030. You take your pick.

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