Talking on a cellphone while you’re driving or sitting in a restaurant doesn’t exactly display mastery of the social graces, but needs sometimes trump manners. If you must yak in public, do the rest of us a favor and use good equipment.
If your phone supports Bluetooth, Gennum’s nXZEN Plus is a fabulous wireless headset. It’s tiny and lightweight, and it sounds great. Gennum’s secret weapon is a powerful DSP chip paired with two highly directional microphones; together, they do an excellent job of canceling background noise.
We tested the headset in a variety of noisy environments, including a crowded bar, while driving in a convertible at freeway speeds with the top down, and even standing between two loudspeakers at very high volume. We never felt the need to speak above a conversational level to compensate for the racket. Listening on a cellphone at the other end of the connection, road noise was perceived as a soft whoosh, bar chatter was reduced to a dull murmur, and we could barely hear the speakers.
Four buttons control all the headset’s functions. We found the large side-button (on/off and call answer) simple to locate and use, but the volume control and “pinch” (mute/unmute) buttons proved a little more cumbersome.
In addition to sounding great, the nXZEN comes with thoughtful features: plug a second, cabled earpiece into the headset and your MP3 player and you can listen to music in stereo. The headset will automatically mute your tunes when you receive an incoming call. Laptop users who like to travel light will appreciate the ability to charge the headset using either an AC adapter or a USB cable.