Hear Sounds Like the Six Million Dollar Man
with a Bionic Hearing Aid
Who better to promote the Bionic Hearing Aid than the Six Million Dollar Man himself, Lee Majors? The American actor promotes this extremely inexpensive hearing device made in China, engineered in Taiwan and designed in Japan as an alternative to higher priced hearing devices fit to your hearing loss by audiologists.
The device costs less than a meal for two in a fine restaurant, even without wine. However, you do get what you pay for and it doesn’t offer many of the features that even the low priced fitted devices offer.
The price is only $299.85 but that’s just for one ear. If you want to hear out of both ears, you pay an additional $149.85 plus shipping and handling for both. It comes in kit that includes one rechargeable hearing aid created to fit either right or left ears, a charging case with two charging slots, an AC adaptor, five sizes and two styles of ear caps, the part that fits in your canal, a cleaning brush, a storage pouch and both a user guide and instructional DVD. You don’t get the charging station, case or extra set of instructions with the second hearing device.Occlusion and Feedback ProblemsWhile the Bionic Hearing Aid is less expensive than fitted models, it’s more of an amplifier than a custom hearing device. The website notes you will get feedback so there’s no special programming to offset the potential for it. It also notes you’ll probably notice occlusion, the stuffed up feeling you often get when your ears plug while flying. That means there’s no allowance for venting that relieves the situation. Other hearing devices, which are slightly more expensive, have venting, to avoid occlusion and feedback elimination programming. These two factors alone would make you reconsider the purchase of these hearing devices and consider throwing in a few extra dollars for more high tech, fitted hearing aids.
Voice Amplification Programs
Interestingly enough, the website for the Bionic Hearing Aid notes that hearing aids amplify all sounds, which include both voices and background noise. This is not true. Many of the new hearing aids on the market offer a voice enhancement feature that reduce the background noise and improve the quality and volume of speech. They also have background reduction programming and directional microphones, which enhance the speech in the direction you face. Many of the newer and higher priced hearing devices also have programs that alter the frequency of high pitched speech and lower it to a frequency more easily heard by those with high frequency hearing loss.
The website also suggests you refrain from wearing the hearing device in noisy areas. Many of the fitted hearing devices offered by audiologists are specifically for the type of hearing environments you normally frequent. Some allow you to adjust the programming for specific settings or automatically adjust the program when you change rooms. Since many people have difficulty hearing due to the problem of filtering out background noise, the Bionic Hearing Aid would be extremely disappointing if they purchased a set.
If you want an invisible hearing device, don’t purchase the Bionic Hearing Aid. It is a full shell in-the-ear device so it’s quite visible to others. Some of the behind-the-ear open-fit hearing devices and invisible in the canal hearing aids are far less visible or completely invisible and run more, but not that much more if that feature is important to you. They also offer more programming features, including feedback reduction or elimination, voice enhancement and abrupt noise elimination.
While the Bionic Hearing Aid is a non-fit, one size fits most type of hearing device, you don’t get instantaneous benefits as you would if you walked into your hearing aid specialist’s office and purchased an instant fit hearing device. The website states that you need to allow between four and six weeks for delivery but often, the Bionic Hearing Aid arrives within a two-week period. However, you can have the order rush shipped for an additional cost. This option isn’t available in Alaska, Hawaii or Florida.
Use with a Cell Phone
Newer hearing aids offer programs that make your hearing device compatible with cell phone use. Even though the Bionic Hearing Aid website says, “you may not be able to use any hearing aid with a mobile phone” that’s simply not true. Newer devices use Bluetooth technology that turns the hearing aid into a receiver. Others have cell phone compatible programs. Again, those that use their cell phones frequently will be grossly disappointed if they select the Bionic Hearing Aids as their solution to hearing problems.
Types of Hearing Loss
These hearing devices are only for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. They aren’t adjustable to specific types of hearing loss such as high or low frequency loss. For those with oddly shaped ears, the site does not recommend these hearing devices.
Adjustment to the Hearing Aids
Natural hearing is often quite different from hearing with the use of hearing aids. If the hearing devices are older in style and don’t accommodate venting, the devices are even far more difficult for people to make the adjustment. One of the recommendations of the Bionic Hearing Aid site is to adjust by wearing the hearing aids a few hours at first and then increase the wear. Many of the higher priced hearing devices offer programs to train your ears to adjust to a hearing aid. Others may not require any adjustment.
This is a benefit that not all hearing devices offer. The Bionic Hearing Aid comes with two rechargeable batteries so you always have a spare ready and a charging station. This is truly a benefit that not all hearing devices provide. The charge in the batter lasts approximately six to ten hours, running out more quickly at higher volume levels.
While the original kit does not have tools for cleaning the hearing aid, for an additional price, the site offers a kit for cleaning the hearing devices. The cleaning tools are approximately the same cost as others available online. The cleaning kit is a container with five different tools to remove debris from the hearing device.
Warranties, Guarantees and Free Trial
There’s a limited one-year warranty that comes with the hearing device but the warranty doesn’t cover items such as accidental damage. For $9.95 a month, you can get 100 percent protection. There’s also a limited 30-day satisfaction guaranteed plan that begins the day you receive your hearing devices. In addition, the site offers a 30-day free trial costing only $14.95 and shipping. If you’re not satisfied in that time, you call the company and receive a return authorization number.
If you keep the hearing device, you pay three monthly payments of $99.95 each. If you return the item at the last minute, the company automatically bills your card the $99.95 for that month until they receive and verify the receipt of the hearing device. They only return the funds to your account if followed the instructions for returning and the package has a postmark within the period given by the customer service representative.
While many are advocates of saving money, unfortunately, purchasing a Bionic Hearing Aid isn’t one of the wisest methods. For about double the cost, you can have a hearing device that’s more attractive, better quality, more comfortable and offers better programming such as voice enhancement. To say the hearing device is better than nothing might be an overstatement. If your finances are such that the cost of an adequate device is far too steep, you may qualify for local programs that can aid you in getting better hearing with a quality device.
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