Once upon a time there was an ancient/wired programming device called a serial Hi-Pro. It had a separate power cord and a serial cable for data communications. Few ppl still use this old obsolete device (look at the back end). Please don’t bother with this device. Sorry serial-fan-boys, it’s too old;
Ah progress; The serial cable/separate power cord was replaced by a single USB cable, much easier to use!
Chinese counterfeit USB Hi-Pro:
The supply-chain counterfeiters in China brought this device to the masses. It looked the same as the real McCoy/USB Hi-Pro. I think this is a picture of one;
Lets do away with the hearing aid wearer being tethered to a computer by long cables. NOAHlink uses Bluetooth wireless to connect from the PC to NOAHlink and uses special short versions of programming cables to connect to the hearing aids. This allowed your Hearing Aid wearers to not be tethered by cables attached to your computer. OMG, what a frigging nightmare. It quickly became obsolete. Try to be careful with names of programming devices otherwise newbies may end up buying this old junk on EBay.
Whoops, Hold Everything:
GN ReSound put the kibosh on Chinese Counterfeits!! What followed was a persistent takedown of these products from EBay, AliExpress, and other trading platforms for Trademark Infringement involved with use of the name Hi-Pro. This was not an easy (or cheap) endeavor! Each individual listing had to be reported to the platform on which it was posted so that the platform could delete the listing. If you were fast and you offered a great price, then you could list and sell quickly before the minions could complete their flagging procedure. Around this same time period, a paid/professional shill showed up here in these forums (before the forums were migrated to this current form). He/she was on my case like a chicken on a bug. Check out some of the posts directed against me at that time.
Not to be suppressed, the supply-chain counterfeiters in China manufactured a new device (the mini Pro). I am assuming this was to to get around GN ReSound’s Trademark infringement takedown. It works same as a USB Hi-Pro. Currently/2020; these next two devices (mini Pro and Counterfeit USB Hi-Pro) is your wired programming device sweet spot for price/performance.
Modified versions of the Counterfeit USB Hi-Pro reappear:
The other/older Chinese Counterfeit USB Hi-Pros reappeared on EBay with the HI-Pro words on the front blacked out (or whited out). Noteworthy is they could not call it a Hi-Pro at the time so they named it mini Pro or some other Hearing Aid Programmer name. Currently/2020; this Counterfeit USB Hi-Pro and the previous mini Pro device is your wired programming device sweet spot for price/performance.
The black Hi-Pro2 is faster/USB 3. But the speed has dependencies on your fitting software to optimize that speed. Very expensive. Meh?
Proprietary Wireless Programming Devices:
Wireless, let’s get rid of cables entirely, Yay! Well not so fast… There was no single wireless protocol. So each manufacturer designed their own proprietary Wireless Programming Device. Proprietary meaning it worked only for that manufacturer’s hearing aids/fitting software and no other hearing aids/fitting software. OMG: What a Zoo! Phonak had iCube, Oticon had FittingLink, Gn RESound had AirLink, etc, etc. You had to wear the wireless device around your neck. Worse yet, the initial wireless devices were replaced by newer/better/faster versions (iCube vs iCube II seems to be most talked about versions). Phonak’s iCube was bricking some hearing aids until they added a factory reset to the fitting software. Also some manufacturers/Oticon still requires a wired programming device for Hearing Aid Firmware updates, so there’s that. Here’s a couple of images from Phonak and Oticon as examples;
Standardized Wireless Programming Device:
GN ReSound’s AirLink 2, aka Noahlink Wireless was selected as a standard wireless programming device. Don’t ask whether to use Airlink 2 or Noahlink Wireless. You can use both, or either. They are the same device, that is, a readily available firmware update will cause a proprietary Airlink 2 device to become an industry standard Noahlink Wireless device. You use a USB cable to connect Noahlink Wireless to your PC and set it on your desktop. Nothing to wear around your neck.
How To Choose:
So how do you choose a programming device for your hearing aids? READ!! The manufacturer will have documentation stating which programming device/s will work for a specific model hearing aid. Find it. Read it. Heed It. Don’t assume that a newer fitting device is better. For Example, Noahlink Wireless is a new programming device that is based on new technology, namely Bluetooth Low Energy ( BLE ) so you can’t expect it to work for older hearing aids.
FAQs/Frequently Asked questions:
- Do I need a Hearing Aid Programming Device to Program my hearing aids? Yes you do. There is no other method to DIY program your hearing aids.
- Can I connect my Bluetooth Wireless hearing aids directly to my computer/PC/SmartPhone without using a Hearing Aid Programming Device? Yes, but only for simple things like volume up/down or similar. You cannot change the settings that match your hearing loss and you cannot apply hearing aid firmware updates.
- Can I use the Remote Fitting options that my audiologist uses to create new settings that can then be applied to my hearing aids using a smartphone App? No, you cannot use this feature. It requires an account with the manufacturer in order to enable remote features such as cloud storage, etc.