Maxi Pro vs Pocketalker Ultra: Which PSAP is Best?

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

The Maxi Pro from Bellman & Symfon is a feature-rich and easy to use personal amplifier for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The Pocketalker Ultra is one of the more popular products on the market. But, which is best for you?

Income Disclosure: I recommend products based on my personal experience working with seniors. I may earn a commission on items purchased from links in this guide. Learn More.

Unfortunately, once hearing loss begins, it affects all parts of your life from talking with friends, to watching TV, to talking on the phone. Fortunately, there are devices that can help with all of these needs and more.

While hearing aids definitely help hearing loss, personal sound amplifiers may be another alternative for hearing aids. Especially if your hearing loss is mild to moderate.

Two of the more popular options are the Maxi Pro Personal Amplifier from Bellman & Symfon and the Pocketalker Ultra from Williams Sound. But, which of these is best for you? Let’s take a closer look.

Side by side view of maxi pro and pocketalker ultra
Side by Side View of the Maxi Pro on the Left and the Pocketalker Ultra on the Right

Video Comparison of the Maxi Pro & Pocketalker Ultra

Here is the video version of this guide that you can watch to compare these two products and see them in action as well.

Disclosure: I was loaned the products for this comparison by Bellman & Symfon and they were returned afterwards. I received no compensation for this content and the opinions are my own based on my own actual use of the devices.

Side by Side Comparison of the Maxi Pro vs. Pocketalker Ultra

Here is a quick comparison of the key features of both the Maxi Pro and the Pocketalker Ultra. Keep reading for more details.

Bellman & Symfon
Maxi Pro

Ease of Use & Set Up
Plug & play operation with simple, basic controls

Buttons and Switches
Easy to press, soft-touch buttons with easy to read print

Volume Control
Uses large + and – buttons with LED light indicator

Microphone Options
Includes built-in omnidirectional microphone

Bluetooth Functionality
Built-in Bluetooth with easy, one-touch pairing process

TV Listening
Works wirelessly via Bluetooth or TV Listener accessory

Phone Amplification
Pairs with mobile phones via Bluetooth for call amplification

Hearing Aids
Works with telecoil hearing aids using the optional neck loop accessory

Listening Accessory Options
Headphones, Earphones (with and without microphones), Neck Loop

Size/Weight
1.8″ x 5.5″ x 1.2″
4.3 oz

Battery Life/Charging
Rechargeable batteries with 70 hours of use & 2.5 hour recharge.

Warranty
2 years

Support Options
Phone, Email, Troubleshooting Guide

Williams Sound
Pocketalker Ultra

Ease of Use & Set Up
Plug & play operation with simple, basic controls

Buttons and Switches
Uses rotary dial switches which might be difficult for older adults

Volume Control
Uses dial switches on the power switch with numerical indicator

Microphone Options
Includes external omnidirectional microphone

Bluetooth Functionality
Does not work with Bluetooth devices

TV Listening
Use with external mic and extension cable placed near TV

Phone Amplification
Does not connect to mobile devices for call amplification

Hearing Aids
Works with telecoil hearing aids using the optional neck loop accessory

Listening Accessory Options
Headphones, Dual and Single Earbuds, Neck Loop

Size/Weight
2.23″ x 4.4″ x 1.25″
2.9 oz

Battery Life/Charging
Uses 2 AAA batteries for up to 200 hours of use. Not rechargeable.

Warranty
5 years

Support Options
Phone, Email, Troubleshooting Guide

RELATED: In Depth Review of the Maxi Pro Personal Amplifier

Detailed Featured Breakdown

Here is a more detailed comparison of the Maxi Pro and Pocketalker Ultra feature by feature. I’ll also let you know which one I think is the best for each feature.

Ease of Use

Both the Maxi Pro and the Pocketalker Ultra are pretty straightforward and easy to set up and use. To use either device, you just plug in your headphones, turn it on and adjust the volume for basic operation. Overall, the Pocketalker has fewer options so it does have fewer switches and controls than the Maxi Pro.

I will give the Maxi Pro a slight advantage here though because its buttons are easier to use than the Pocketalker’s dial switches. See the next section for more information.

Winner: Maxi Pro

Buttons and Switches (Volume and Control)

The Maxi Pro uses large, familiar-feeling buttons for the power and volume controls that work with a simple press and very little pressure. However, the Pocketalker, uses rotary wheels that require flicking movements by the user to scroll them to your desired setting. People with arthritis or weakness in your fingers may find this more difficult.

The buttons are much better labeled on the Maxi Pro compared to the Pocketalker. They are dark gray in color with bold, white contrasting print. The volume buttons are labeled with + or – and the tone control is labeled with an up arrow and a down arrow. Using these buttons is very intuitive especially for older folks.

The button label for the Pocketalker power switch and volume control is small and difficult to read. Because it is on the rotary dial itself, the print rolls out of the way when the switch is turned on.

The Pocketalker has fewer options so it does have fewer switches and controls than the Maxi Pro. This might be a consideration if the user might get confused with multiple buttons.

Winner: Maxi Pro

control comparisons maxi pro pocketalker ultra
Button and Control Comparison Between the Pocketalker Ultra and the Maxi Pro

Microphone Options

Both devices use an omnidirectional microphone that is located at the top of the unit. The Maxi Pro microphone is built-in while the Pocketalker is a separate piece that you plug into the top. This lets you use an extension cable for other uses which will be explained later.

Is there a big difference? Not really. How you use the device will determine whether or not a removable and extendable microphone is a usable feature for you. Some people may prefer not worrying about it coming off and getting lost.

Winner: Both

Bluetooth Functionality

The Maxi Pro is Bluetooth-enabled and pairs easily with your mobile phone or favorite audio device. You can also control the volume right from the amplifier without having to touch the audio device or phone.

What types of devices can you use with a Bluetooth Connection? Mobile phones, tablets, portable MP3 players, laptops, and home smart speakers like Alexa & Google Home.

The Pocketalker does not offer Bluetooth.

Winner: Maxi Pro

TV Listening

The Maxi Pro can be used as a wireless TV listening device while the Pocketalker requires a corded connection. The Maxi Pro can sync with your TV wirelessly if your TV has a Bluetooth connection. If not, you will need the optional Maxi Pro TV Streamer which plugs into your TV’s headphone port and then wirelessly transmits the audio signal to your Maxi Pro. You can even take the TV Listener with you which makes it great for travel.

To use the Pocketalker as a TV listener, you need to use the included audio extension cord and place the external microphone next to the TV speaker. While this works, it provides a lower quality connection compared to the Maxi Pro’s direct wireless connection. You may experience static and pick up background noise.

Winner: Maxi Pro

Pocketalker extension cord
To use the Pocketalker as a TV listening device, you must add the extension cord to the microphone and place it in front of the TV. The Maxi Pro uses a wireless connection.

Phone Amplification

As I briefly mentioned earlier, you can use the Maxi Pro to both amplify and control your mobile phone. To do this, you first pair your phone with the Maxi Pro by holding down the Bluetooth button then choosing “Maxi Pro” in the Bluetooth settings of your phone. I also love that you can sync multiple devices to your Maxi Pro at the same time.

After pairing, you can both listen to your calls and speak to the caller through the Maxi Pro headphones. You will also be able to answer and reject calls by using the button on the amplifier as well as turn the volume up and down so that you can hear the caller clearly. Do you stream music on your phone? You can listen to that through the amplifier too.

The Pocketalker does not have Bluetooth or other phone amplification options.

Winner: Maxi Pro

Hearing Aids

Both systems work with telecoil-enabled hearing aids but you will have to buy the optional neck loop accessory for either one. The neck loop plugs into the headphone port and transmits the sound to your hearing aids wirelessly.

Winner: Both

Size and Weight

The Pocketalker does have an edge over the Maxi Pro in overall size because it is bit smaller and lighter. There’s not a huge difference between the two but it is significant enough to mention.

Winner: Pocketalker Ultra

size comparison of maxi pro and pocketalker ultra
Size Difference between the Maxi Pro and the Pocketalker Ultra

Battery Options, Life, and Charging

There are some big differences between the two when it comes to power and batteries. The Maxi Pro comes with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery but the Pocketalker uses 2 AAA batteries only.

As far as battery life, the Pocketalker offers much higher overall battery life: 200 hours vs. 70 hours on the Maxi Pro. The Maxi Pro recharges completely in about 2.5 hours. For the Pocketalker, you simply replace the batteries with fresh ones.

It’s hard to make a specific call here as to which is better because this is more preferential. Personally, I prefer rechargeable batteries over disposable ones. While the total battery life is significantly better on the Pocketalker, you can’t use it if you don’t have batteries available.

Winner: Both

Warranty

The Pocketalker is the clear winner here by offering a 5 year warranty over the Bellman’s 2 year warranty. Both warranties cover part and labor for manufacturer’s defects only.

Winner: Pocketalker

Customer Support Options

Customer support options are nearly equal. Both companies offer phone support lines, email support, troubleshooting guides in the owners manuals, as well as helpful videos on Youtube.

Winner: Both

rear comparison of maxi pro and ultra
Rear View of Both Products

Conclusion

So, after comparing the features and benefits of the Maxi Pro Personal Amplifier and the Pocketalker Ultra side by side, I think the Maxi Pro is the best choice for most people. It is easy to set up and use and it feels like a remote control so most people will have no problem getting used to it. It also has the advantage of being Bluetooth-enabled and will help you hear your mobile phone. The Pocketalker Ultra does not have that option.

The only advantages the Pocketalker Ultra has over the Maxi Pro is that it is a bit smaller, the battery life is longer, and it does have a longer warranty. But it offers fewer features as well.

What do you think about the differences between the Maxi Pro and the Pocketalker? Let me know in the comments below which one you think is the best!

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