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Untitled Document GN Netcom 9050 2.4 GHz Wireless Amp with GN 2110 SoundTube Single Headset


As any stereophile will tell you, always spend more money on your speakers than the other components combined. It's an idea based on simple logic; if sound quality is your primary concern, spend the most on what produces the sound.

This same idea should apply to many types of technologies—particularly cordless telephones. But because they are packaged as units, cordless telephones have never allowed consumers to customize their equipment. They pretty much just receive whatever handset comes with the phone.

As transmission technology is becoming perfected (with the addition of spread spectrum technology and 2.4 GHz transmission bands), telephones are finally beginning to follow a more logical market path. Like stereos, the best systems are beginning to be bought in components, not units.

Headsets are following suit.
This is likely why wireless amplifiers are becoming so popular. In addition to their hands-free advantages (you clip the amp to a belt or pocket, and connect a headset top to it, and off you go), wireless amps effectively separate the transmission technology from the microphone and speaker.

To allow people to customize their telephone equipment in this manner—thereby getting exactly what they want—Hello Direct now packages one of their best GN Netcom wireless amps with an assortment of high-quality GN headset tops. For this review, I took a look at the GN 9050 2.4 GHz wireless amp with a GN 2110 monaural (single ear) headset. This package is one of the least expensive of the choices at $289.99.

The base station for the GN 9050 connects between your regular office phone's handset and its base. Once you've connected the cords and plugged in the AC adapter, you'll want to set 3 switches on your base station. The first fine-tunes the base to your telephone system. Flip around the 8 settings until you find the one that gives you the clearest dial tone. The second switch lets you regulate the outgoing volume. Probably the easiest way to set this 8-level switch is to call a friend and then alternate talking with your handset and your headset. Leave the switch at the level that best matches your handset's volume. The final switch optimizes the treble and base of incoming sound.

The only other thing you need to do is charge the NiMH battery. This takes about 3 hours and will provide you with 6 hours of continuous talk time or about 3 days of standby.

The wireless amp
About the size of a pager, the GN 9050 is solid yet lightweight. With just 3 buttons on its face, the unit is also easy to operate. At the top is a large headset/handset button almost 2 inches across; so you don't have to feel around when a call comes in. You do have to make sure you press it firmly for it to register. Beneath this button are a volume toggle that lets you adjust incoming sound, and a mute button. When a caller has been muted, you will hear a reminder beep every 15 seconds. The wireless amp also has beeps to notify you when your battery is low or if you're walking out of range.

During my test, I was able to walk 120 feet away from the base station before these beeps were sounded, and another 10 feet before my transmission began to fizzle. Should you need to walk farther away than reception permits, your caller will be placed on hold. You can also put your caller on hold by disconnecting the headset from the belt pack using the included quick-disconnect adapter.

Overall, transmissions are very crisp and clear—virtually free from interference. Because the GN 9050 transmits on 2.4 GHz frequencies, you don't have to worry about eavesdroppers; the frequency-hopping feature prevents it.

The GN 2110 headset
One of the least expensive of GN Netcom's high-end headsets, this monaural headset is extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear. But the best thing about it is its SoundTube. This sleek, coated-alloy voice tube minimizes the distraction normally caused by bulkier microphone booms. At the end of the boom is a microphone no larger than a ball bearing, yet it is able to pick up your lightest whispers while filtering out background noise. To test performance, I walked 100 feet down the hall and left a few messages on my own voicemail. When I replayed them, I found them to be very crisp.

Final comments
For most office environments, the GN 9050 with its 2.4 GHz transmissions provides more than ample range and security. Your big decision will be which headset to choose. I used the lower-priced GN 2110 and found the performance to be exceptional, but you might want a different headset. As it happens, the GN 9050 is also packaged with a variety of headsets, including inexpensive over-the-ear (or over-the-head) headsets (Hello Direct offers this one for $50 less right now), binaural headsets, and flexible-boom headsets.

After you've tried the GN 9050 with any one of these choices, using a regular phone will be like listening to music on your parents' outdated turntable.

What I Liked Best   What I Didn't Like
  • Excellent range and security
  • Very comfortable
  • Hands-free roaming
  • Good battery life
  • Packaged with exceptional headsets
  • Handset/headset button could be more sensitive
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