Starkey Surflink Media Review
In 2010 Starkey released the Wi Series hearing aids. These were Starkey’s first truly wireless hearing aids and were (and still are) very popular hearing aids. With that release came the introduction of brand new accessories as well. In 2010, Starkey released their first (basic) Surflink remote, and the Surflink Media. The remote is pretty standard- you can change the volume and program of the hearing aids. The Surflink Media is what attracted more attention though, as it was the first wireless streaming accessory Starkey ever released. Some would say Starkey was a bit “late to the game” in releasing the Surflink Media, but I think they just wanted to wait until they had something they could really be proud of- something that didn’t require a a body-worn relay device.
The Surflink Media is a great solution for people who have a hard time hearing the TV. It acts as a wireless transmitter and streams the sound directly into both of your hearing aids, so you get a nice surround sound experience. Even more, others can adjust the volume on the TV for what they think is appropriate, and you can crank it up as loud as you need to in your hearing aids- you have a separate volume control. In fact, there are multiple ways you can control the volume. You can use a volume control on the aid, a remote control, or you can adjust the volume on the Surflink Media device itself, though I don’t recommend that since it’s best to set-and-forget it. If multiple people in your household wear hearing aids they can all connect to the Surflink Media device as well, though they have to be wearing wireless Starkey hearing aids and have them programmed to work with the streamer.
To start using the Surflink Media, all you have to do is plug it in to the back of your television and you are ready to go. There is no “pairing” that needs to be done like with so many other accessories. It’s a good looking unit that you can set right next to your DVD player or other accessories and never bother with it again. I mentioned the volume control on the unit itself, there’s another control (as shown to the left), which allows you to set the distance or “range” of the streamer. In theory this is a nice feature, as it allows the TV to automatically stream sound to your aids when you get in range, but in practice it doesn’t always work like it should. There is about a 4 second delay, and often times one hearing aid will connect to the streamer much earlier than the other. Then, when you get out of range of the streamer, often times one of the aids takes significantly longer to disconnect from the streamer- so you’ll have one hearing aid that is working normally, and the other one that is still streaming sound from the TV- this can be awkward. Another problem I’ve seen with the device is that when you are streaming the TV, it is very hard for most people to carry on a conversation with others in the room. The sound from the TV is so loud and clear in both ears, that a lot of times it tends to drown out the speech of others in the room, even when the microphones are still on.
Aside from those issues, I think the Surflink Media is worth its weight in gold and highly recommend it to people that have a hard time hearing the TV. State of the art hearing aids often have a TV program on the hearing aids which help you hear the TV more clearly without any additional devices, but if you still have a problem, the Surflink Media is the answer. I can report that many of my clients do very well with the Surflink Media and really love it. I have had several people who could not understand the TV at all, even with the best of the best hearing aids, but once they tried the Surflink Media they could hear it perfectly. I’ve had a number of people who were in absolute awe of the device, and one that even broke down crying because it was so nice to hear the TV again.
The Surflink Media usually retails for around $450 and is only compatible with the Wi Series and 3 Series hearing aids from Starkey. It is a simple device to install and use, and comes with an easy to read instruction booklet. If you can hook up a DVD player to your TV, you can set up the Surflink Media with no problem.
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