Motorola seem to release a new Bluetooth headset every month. Whilst this keeps the designs nice and fresh, you do have to question whether there is any real movement left in the headset market. Are the technologies improving to enhance communication?
In terms of design, the H15 has a slightly bloated body, so it is not the smallest device around, but this does have the added advantage of sitting mostly over the outer ear, so does feel nice and secure. It features a flip-out silver boom mic at the bottom which also acts as a power switch, so it is easy to open to make calls, and close it when you are finished, saving power.
The mic is actually a really efficient way of managing the on/off problem with Bluetooth headsets. Too often you are fiddling with a single button, not knowing whether you have turned it on or off, or are making a call or whatever. This is a distinct action, so you know the headset is activated.
There is a single multifunction button on the face of the headset, which thanks to its size is pretty easy to hit. Volume buttons are also included along the side, in the centre of which is a status light. All the buttons, as normal have multiple uses, our favourite is pressing both volume buttons down at the same time, which will give you the battery status – really useful as you set off on a long drive.
The main multifunction button opens up most of the features, aside from taking and ending calls. You can use voice dialling, although this depends very much on the phone you are using it with as to the results you’ll get. You can also manage multiple calls two calls at once, redial the last number and so on.
The fixed ear bud comes with different sized covers that help you achieve the perfect fit. This is important to ensure that you get the best performance – the better the fit, the better you’ll be able to hear your caller and the more background noise will be naturally filtered out. We had no problems with the standard size and found that the headset was comfortable for long periods of wear.
If you don’t fancy using just the ear bud, you can also use the ear hoop which is easily detached if you don’t want it, or reversed so you can wear the headset on either side of your head. Overall, this is amongst the most comfortable headsets we’ve looked at, which makes it one of our favourites.
But the premise with the H15 is all about cutting down on background noise, making your conversations clearer for the caller and making sure you never have to say "I’ll call you back" because you are in a noisy environment. Motorola is claiming that the new headsets provide the best noise cancellation available, thanks to CrystalTalk, which delivers echo and background noise cancellation thanks to the dual mic setup.
We decided to give the H15 an unrealistic test. Normally you’d mute your music to take a call, but we thought the best test was not to do this. The first thing to note was that callers came through loud and clear thanks to the close fit of the H15 in the ear. Callers reported that they could hear there was music in the background, but they couldn’t distinguish what it was. One caller described it as "standing outside a noisy pub". What was actually created then, was a white noise effect, whilst background noise was apparent, conversation was not a problem.
Normal background noises are almost completely removed, with callers reporting that they could only hear them during pauses in conversation.
Turn off the background noise and things are better still. Conversations are crisp and clear, with plenty of volume.
You also get a nifty desktop charger with your H15. This lets you plug the travel charger into the back and slot the headset onto the top for charging. All the connections are Micro-USB. If you want to use the headset, you can leave the boom mic flipped out, then when you receive a call, you simply have to plug it into your ear and take the call.
The desktop charger is a nice touch, and nods to the fact that some people like to use their headset in an office environment, whilst leaving their hands free to use their keyboard. It also keeps things nice and tidy, so your headset is not knocking around on your desk to get lost under papers. Charging takes 2 hours, and you’ll get about 5 days standby time and just over 4 hours of talktime.
Motorola have been pretty consistent with their Bluetooth headsets: good quality build and good to use. Does this really bring anything extra to the party? Well, perhaps not, unless you are a regular headset user that has struggled with background noise problems in the past.
You’ll also have to pay out a fairly hefty sum for this headset and certainly there are cheaper models available, but you can’t guarantee that you’ll get anything like the quality of experience.