Motorola HX1

If you ask any Bluetooth-geek about bone-conduction technology, they’ll immediately tell you that the Jawbone is the only headset you’ll find with this technology. But, they would be wrong. The HX1 from Motorola features Stealth Mode, which activates the bone-conduction technology that is built into the part that goes in your ear. This technology is designed to eliminate background noise by tapping into the vibrations travelling through your skull.

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Using a voice prompt system, the HX1 is easy to setup and doesn’t rely on you deciphering what ‘x’ number of flashes of the status light means. A pleasant and friendly voice will tell you when you’re connected, disconnected and when the battery is low. It’s a nice touch and it’s a shame there aren’t more headsets with this feature because I can never remember what the light states mean.

The headset is lightweight and comfortable in the ear even after an hour in the car. The power switch on the side makes it easy to switch on and off rather than having to hold certain button combination – an all too familiar method for making a headset power up or down on other models I’ve used. Volume controls are placed on the same side as the power switch, making it easy for you to access with your thumb and the stealth switch is positioned on its own on the top surface for easy access. Six rubber ear tips come included to suit your ear shape and size.

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Sound quality without the stealth mode activated comes through clear thanks to its dual-mic setup and Motorola’s sound-enhancing tech, Crystaltalk. The real party trick comes through when you activate the stealth mode. With this mode activated, all background noises are isolated. And I mean all background noises. Since the mic is no longer used for picking up audio, all audio is passed through a small nub on the earpiece that gets inserted into your ear and pushed against the bone. I tested stealth mode with loud background music right next to me and the caller wasn’t able to hear any of it. Although it was commented that my voice wasn’t as intelligible with stealth mode and quiet when stealth mode was deactivated. Tests in the car proved to work well, with road noise eliminated completely. But again, the issue of clarity came up. On both occasions my voice was described as being muffled.

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Battery life is rated at seven hours, and although I didn’t record the exact call durations, the HX1 did last two weeks without having to recharge.

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The Motorola HX1 is a good alternative to the Jawbone headset if sound isolation technology is a must but it does carry a price tag of $160 – translating to about £96.

2009-11-28 Onwah Tsang

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