Need Help Deciding Between Signia, Oticon, and Phonac

Help! I’ve been wearing hearing aids (Oticon Vigo Pros) for about eight years. It’s time for new ones, but I’ve been looking for a year and a half and still feel like I don’t know anything. I’ve come the point (and way beyond) where I need to make a decision.

Can someone help me do some final comparisons? Their web sites are driving me crazy. It’s close to impossible to compare their various models and even to find a simple list of their features. (Like a needle in a haystack.)

I just finished a trial of Signia Motion 13 Nx hearing aids with a Streamline Mic and an Android phone. Signia is my audiologist’s preference, but he sells all brands and is very much open to suggestion.

If I stay with Signia, I would prefer a rechargeable model. It looks like the only rechargeable one they make is Pure Charge&Go Nx. Can someone tell me:

  1. Is it comparable to the Motion 13 Nx as far as features and quality?
  2. Is it a RIC or BTE model?
  3. Can regular batteries be used if you’re away from the charger?

I’m also looking for Oticon and Phonak models that would satisfy those same criteria. Can you tell me which ones would qualify?

Thanks very much in advance for the education!

The Phonak BR is a sealed rechargable. No user change to disposable batteries allowed.

According to the website the Motion 13 Nx is BTE and the Pure Charge & Go Nx is a wireless rechargable RIC type. It does not look like they provide an option for the user to change to disposable batteries either but it was not clearly spelled out. If you go to the professional part of the website signia-pro.com you can download a brochure to compare the features.

If your audiologist is more familiar with Signia programming they may do a better job with Signia. If you are used to the Signia sound you may also find it more pleasing.

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The Oticon OPN has a rechargeable battery option that OEMs the Z Power battery. You can use regular batteries with this option when you’re away from your charging station.

Thank you. Good to know there might be more useful information at the pro site.

I’m not sure he’s more familiar with Signia programming; it’s just his current preference. A few years ago he recommended Oticon aids to my wife.

Thanks. Displaying my ignorance again, what’s the Z Power battery?

@Keithr:

Signia recently announced their rechargeable version of the NX hearing aids.

I asked my audiologist about this about 3 weeks ago and she knew nothing about it. She called her contact at Siemens Canada and if I recall correctly, they said an announcement was going to be made on March 20th (for the Canadian market). I haven’t followed up since that conversation.

It’s possible that you can get what you want in a Siemens product, but you might have to wait for it.

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The Z Power battery system is a third party option which is sold to various HA mfgs as an OEM option. It’s basically a batttery system that consists of a miniature circuitry and the rechargeable battery inside their special battery door that would retrofit and replace the mfg’s original empty shell battery door. I’d imagine it sticks out a tiny bit more at the bottom compared to the original battery door.

Along with the 2 specialized battery door replacement, it also has a charging station where you would drop your HA equipped with the Z Power battery door into for charging overnight. The charging is by induction so there’s no connection necessary; just drop it in the charging well.

The Z Power system also allows you to remove the rechargeable Silver Zinc battery and replace it with the regular Zinc Air battery in the case when your rechargeable battery runs out of juice before the end of the day, or when you travel and don’t want to lug around the charging station with you.

The advertised capacity of the rechargeable system is that it should last you through the day so you’d only have to recharge it at night. But if you stream a lot, your mileage may vary.

You will also need to replace the rechargeable batteries about once a year for around $50/pair as they don’t last forever. Z Power offers no warranty at all on their rechargeable batteries, and 1 year warranty for their charging station. Economically, it’s still cheaper to use regular battery due to this yearly replacement of the rechargeable battery. Toward the end of their shelf life, these rechargeable batteries may not last you as long as they originally do as well. We just don’t know how well they hold up until the end of their shelf life.

Most people who go for rechargeable system do so not for economic reason, but for convenience. Some may have dexterity issues with changing the small batteries. Others don’t like to carry around spare batteries in case they run out in the middle of the day, so they expect the rechargeable to last them all day long and get freshly charged by morning ready for another full day.

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Thanks a lot for the explanation. Siemens/Signia and Phonak don’t use this Z Power system, then?

I didn’t realize that you have to take out the rechargeable battery to be able to use a regular battery.

It’s good to know about the annual replacement, too. I wasn’t aware of that.

Thanks very much for this article. I was surprised to see that the Pure Charge&Go has been out less than a month. Viewing the Pro link Psocoptera provided, I don’t even see it in the comparison chart (although I haven’t looked around a lot). Maybe that’s why your audiologist didn’t know anything about it.

I think if they don’t use the Z power OEM system, most likely they use built in lithium ion rechargeable batteries in their own proprietary systems that are not easily replaceable by users and must be sent in for replacement which will cost more than the $50 replacement in the Z power system.

On top of that, you can’t take out the rechargeable and replace it on the fly with regular batteries like with the Z power. So if your charging station is broken or if you forget to charge overnight or lose power at home overnight, your hearing aids will become inoperable the next morning.

In the Z power system, there’s no room in the battery door housing to hold both the regular battery and the silver zinc one. So only either one or the other can be in there at one time. So if you swap out the silver zinc for the regular battery, you’ll need to hang on to the silver zinc for reuse later.

Also keep in mind that the regular battery, once exposed to air, even if partially used for one day and still have enough juice for several more days, if unused (because you can revert back to the silver zinc the next day after you’ve had a chance to charge it up later), will still get discharged completely even if just sitting there unused after a couple of weeks.

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