Review of Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headset/Headphone

Introduction
I guess the main reason why people are pulling back on BT headphones currently are compatiblity problems & price. Personally I brought this headphone because of its build & looks, not to mention at a bargain price too. The decision is very much uncharted as theres no searchable review of this on the net &/or news on yet & whether its compatible with the devices I intended to pair it with, particularly my PC & my Dell Axim X50v. Well, I guess someone got to test it out 1st right? & hey why not be the first to write a review too!

Its a moto so we can expect some quality over lower-profile brands such as sonorix, iphono, blueant or even icombi. My unit is made in china (I think so for most motorola accessories). The headphones (speaker unit) are very well constructed & soild (no shaky & lose parts), with a reflective plastic on the face. Personally speaking, I love the comfort of the removable ear sponges, soft & spongy. But getting replacement sponges may may abit of a problem when they start to wear out – An inevitable problem usually faced by headphone users. Currently, motorola is not offering replacement sponges as spare parts in shops, so the only way to get hold of them presently is through service centers.

The back-band is made out of smooth gray flexible plastic. Theres a thin wire running along inside it, which can be seem from a gap below -the bluetooth aerial I presume, a smartmove for maximum reception by moto. Reception is good & I can easy walk anywhere from 8-9m from my axim before getting radio distortions/or audio cutoffs.

The only cosmetic problem is a thin plastic edge running on the back-band, giving it an unfinished cheap look which kinda goes against it overall looks. But understandably this is pretty much a manufacturing problem & the nature of molding of plastics.

Expected store retail prices range from $150-$210 SGD (Singapore dollars), converting to USD, prices roughly range from $85-$120 USD. A $100 SGD price tag (which I paid for) is the actually very close to the cost price of the product itself, so as a friend in the business at that point of time told me (& provided me with this review piece).

The standard package includes the headphones in a proudly labelled “STEREOMOTO” box, manual w/warranty & an AC charger similarly used in the Moto Razr V3 & E680i phones. You can charge the unit through USB as well (USB cable not suppiled) too as the charging port is actually a mini usb port.

Function
Multi-function (MFB) buttons are located on both sides of the headphone, identified by the large round buttons with a Motorola’s M insignia placed prominently on it. The buttons are also where the blue LED lights are located as well. The left MFB is used for the headset & handsfree control, as well as the pairing button. The right MFB is dedcicated to music controls (play/pause/stop). Universal volume controls are located on the top edge of the left headphone unit & the music skip & buttons are on the right respectively. All buttons provide a good statisfying feedback when pressed.

As mentioned, there are leds on both sides of the headphones. The left LED will only blink every 8 seconds when taking calls & on standby. Both LEDs will slowly glow on & off in alternate every 8 seconds when paired & streaming high quality stereo music in A2DP from a music source, giving it a very cool overal look, not to mention turning heads while communting in public transport. Contray to the rather irritating LED flashes seen in most bluetooth headsets.

Streaming Tests
I was expecting a depreciation in audio quality given the fact that bluetooth A2DP audio is actually a further compressed audio format streamed through wireless formats. On the contrary, I could not detect any depreciation in audio quality after test streaming a few MP3s (bitrates 128-192kps) & wav files on my PC played through my stereo speakers. In relation, sound quality is comparable to a pair of $60 Sony street styled headphones for benchmark. The same is tested using streamed through my Pocket PC, an Axim X50V & the audio quality is good with the exception or no skips, no hiss, no distortions.

The HT820 right play controls works with all mainstream programs I tested it on, namely Media Player 10 & Winamp 5.0. The microphone/voice commands works flawlessly too (tested on MS recorder/creative media recorder) The PC will recognise the headset as a bluetooth headset so the possiblities are very much endless given what voice activated software you have on your PC can do with it at your disposal.

The cool thing about the play controls is that you can have full access to your player’s controls + volume without ever taking out your device. You can have you laptop/PDA streaming music from your bag/haversack (or even from another’s person’s bag in a group). Totally cool!

Range
In concrete built up areas, I can get at least 8m through rooms from the source before I get cut off from music. In clear open areas, I’ve tried distances up to 18m & music still plays! But I guess doing so will adversely affect battery life & usually results in music skips. Generally, maintain a clear line of sight for maximum range. (Now try that with wired headphones for size!) Interestingly, if you ever get out of range, jumping back into range immediately usually resumes music (which will show some preliminary signs of skipping), only if you stay out of range for an extended period where you will get disconnected.

Headset Test
Amazingly, despite its small profile on the right headphone unit, the headset microphone has very good feedback, calls are loud & clear. And I guess we have motorola’s reasonably long experience in the bluetooth headset arena to back on the quality of the headset. A single press on the MFB will bring up the voice dialling/command menu in my Siemens SX1. The same button is used to hang-up (short-press), hold & answer incoming calls (long-press), hold a 3-way call (volume button long-press). If you phone supports voice dailing, holding the MFB for 3 seconds will sound a beep for you to speak (activating “speak now” voice dailing on my series 60 Siemens SX1). All calls are broadcasted in stereo.

Sound quality
Out of the box, treble was excessively dominating over the mid & lows frequency sounds. Unless you are a classical or treble fanatic, this can be easily fixed with some equaliser adjustments in your given music player software. Base is reasonablity deep though it’s often largely overwhelmed by the low-mid frequency sounds. As mentioned sound quality is comparable to an average Sony $50-$60 street-style headphones.

Battery life
Battery life is claimed by Motorola to be at 17 hours talktime, 14 hours of continous hi-quality music streaming & 500 hours of standby time. Firstly, I would like to highlight that the battery for the headphones are in-built, so the only way to go about a dead battery is through the service center. Furthermore, there’s no battery meter or whatsoever & its only programmed to chime at you every 20 seconds once it needs more juice.

On tests, the headphones will go roughly 10-12 hours of continous audio playing before the low battery chime comes on, then it would go on for another 20-30mins before going completely dead. So the maximum achievable realistic battery life would be approximately 12 hours. On talktime tests, on an approximately 1-2 hours usage of the headset function a day, I only need to charge my headphones roughly once a week- reasonably good compared to my other bluetooth headsets with offering only 8 hours of talktime. Charging from flat to full usually takes approx 2 hours, which will increase as the battery ages.

Misc Addtional Features
There is a 2.5mm inline jack on the right speaker unit. It is used to play music from a wired source, (e.g CD player, iPod, non Bluetooth equiped PC or Home stereo. The good thing is that you can still maintain connection between yout bluetooth devices (up to 5) while listening music off the inline jack & music will automatically be muted to take calls & auto-resume thereafter

A 2.5mm – 3.5mm audio plug converter would be required for the inline to function though, as most audio devices in the market uses the more conventional 3.5mm jacks. It would be better it if motorola were to swap the 2.5mm inline for a 3.5mm one to rid this compatibility problem.

Final words
Overall, this is headset is definitely value for money. A good mix of features, built & price, whats more it’s not a E680i only accessory & works with almost any device I’ve tested which supports the AV & headset profile. I would definitely recommend this headphone to anyone who yearns quality wireless music without the hassle of tangled/messy headphone wires, dying turn heads in crowds or just simply out of the plain love of technology.

Bottomline
An affordable medium-high quality build device providing wireless solution for stereo music with the ease of music controls & headset functions all integrated into one.

Will I recommend it to others? – Yes!

Pros

  • Price & quality build
  • Long battery life
  • Fast USB charging
  • Reasonably good audio quality
  • Excellent headset function
  • Addtional 2.5mm inline jack
  • Side blue leds providing real cool factor

Cons

  • No spare ear sponges
  • No charger included as standard
  • Visible mold lines on headband
  • Built-in non-removable battery
  • Large footprint, Bulky & non-foldable
  • 2.5mm inline quite redundant (3.5mm inline)

Devices I tested working with:

  • Intel Pentium 4 Desktop with BTv1.1 (A2DP Profile & Headset Profile)
  • Fujitsu T4020 Tablet PC with BTv1.6 (A2DP Profile & Headset Profile)
  • Dell Axim X50v (A2DP Profile & Headset Profile)
  • Siemens SX1 (Headset Profile/Voice Dialing only)

Motorola HT820 FAQ Answers


What charger do you use on the HT820 headphones?

My review set comes with an additional Motorola V3 charger, which is not found in the standard package. What you get depends greatly on what the store bundles for you for your needs. Optionally, you can charge your HT820 through your computer’s USB port, as the charging port is actually a mini-USB port (normally found in digital cameras, portable harddisks, card readers, etc). You just have to get hold one of those full USB port -> mini USB converters & wollia you are done.

Frankly speaking I seldom use the Motorola V3 charger, preferring USB as a primary means of charging due to convenience from my computer 😉

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Where can I get your Headphones at such a price? Can you get it for me?

I am sorry, I got the review package courtesy from a friend who happens to work in the industry They were kind of them to provide me a personal unit I can use for the review. Such intentions are non-profit & I have my friend’s interest at stake to protect, I wish you will understand. With this, I DON’T take orders neither do I sell the headphone to anyone who approach me on the matter.

As a gauge, for $100SGD I got the HT820 together with a Motorola V3 Charger. I’ve seen stores selling the headphones from $150-$230SGD. $100SGD + charger is a break even at cost-price. So hope this will be a good gauge & useful info for what you are paying when purchasing your own unit.

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Can you give more details on the microphone & how it works? I don’t seem to be able to see it!

The microphone is actually a small 1mm diameter hole facing the front of the right speaker. Nothing much, nothing less, but its does catch your voice real well.

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Will my bluetooth-enabled laptop able to use voice recognition & other audio recording programs while simultaneously connected with A2DP stereo music? So I don’t have to go into my bluetooth utility & switch between profiles every time.

That very much depends on your Bluetooth stack capabilities. Personally, I’ve used the HT820 paired to 2 devices simultaneously (A2DP music from my PDA & take headset profile to take calls from my handphone). So technically wise the HT820 can support simultaneous connections.

However, as mentioned given most current PC Bluetooth stacks, the system will usually recognize a single device to be able to use one function at once. Pairing the HT820 with your laptop will allow you to activate either of Bluetooth services only at one go:

1) A2DP High quality profile (together with AVRCP profile, for remote control)
2) Headset profile.

Unless you get the stack to run 2 separate COM ports for each service & fool the system to see the device as 2 devices with either service each, you can only run either of each.

But why would you want to be able to listen to music & VOIP chat/give voice commands simultaneously? Even if you get that working, the HT820 will automatically cut off A2DP music if the headset profile is being used & only return when the headset session has ended.

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The package I’ve recieved came in opened and some of my things were stolen! So the only thing that turned up was the headphones. Please help me out!

Actually, I don’t think your package items were stolen in transit. The standard retail box only contains the headphones & manual. Though it’s said to be included in the manual, the additional 2.5mm wire & charger actually comes separately. Not in the box.

Some background info: The HT820 actually comes bundled initially as planned by Motorola with the E680 music phone, so they removed the charger, etc from the HT820 package as not to duplicate items.

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Do you happen to know the frequency range for the headphone? Is it stated on the manual for it?

I do not know the audible range the headphone offers nor it’s stated in the manual. What I can say the quality of the sound reproduced is comparable to that of a standard $40-$50 Sony street style headphones. Personally speaking, paper frequency ratings are nothing compared to testing & hearing the music yourself, so your best bet is maybe doing so at a local computer or mobile shop where you can really make your decision.

Bass is reasonably good, but treble is excessively high sometimes, all these can be fixed with equalizer settings in your music player though, so not much of a problem.

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Do you feel uncomfortable after wearing the headphones after a long period of time? If it does get uncomfortable, approximately how long does it takes before it gets uncomfortable?

Wearing it was quite uncomfortable for me at first, but not now at all. I guess I am more or less used to it now. After using it for about 2 weeks, it is as a matter of fact, quite comfortable to wear now for extended periods. Well, unless you have very big ears, I don’t see a problem. Its feels like music on air (totally unreal with no wires!)

The HT820 has the build of a medium-high quality headphones, & the ear sponges adds the very nice comfy touch, more comfortable & spongy than my old, average Sony headphones.

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I am curious how you had them setup for the x50v. I’ve read alot of people having problems with the A2DP setup but you mentioned having it stream without any problems. Can you explain your setup with the x50v?

The X50v standard bluetooth firmware for the x50v do not support A2DP. You need to obtain & manually installing wildcomm’s Bluetooth 1.6 stack over the existing ones. From there, you will have access to the A2DP function. If I am not wrong early versions of the x51v running windows mobile 5.0 has a very primitive Microsoft Bluetooth stack installed as well, not supporting A2DP, this can be remedied using the method mentioned above.

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I can’t get hold/purchase the Wildcomm stack, can you ‘help’ me with it?

Firstly, I will encourage users to purchase the stack as credit for developers & not download hacks & cracks off the net to do so.

If broadcomm/wildcomm is out of the question, altenatively I’ve found a nice neat freeware Bluetooth stack, called Bluesoleil (BS), its one of the most user friendly & feature packed Bluetooth client software I ever used, & it supports A2DP like a charm.

[Click here to access the Bluesoleil Site]
Download the trail & see whether it will work for your PC/Notebook. There is also a PDA version which you can install for use. A subset of A2DP I the AVRCP profile (for remote control), It worked for me & all windows media/winamp play/pause/>> skip/< < skip controls. There is only a 5MB transfer limit if your bluetooth device is not recognized by Bluesoleil for the trail version. Moreover the BS stack is quite affordable as well, I personally purchased my fully functional copy of the Bluesoleil stack with a Bluetooth v1.6 USB dongle at an affordable $20SGD (Approx $12USD) so I guess that’s quite in the budget range for most people who want good & affordable Bluetooth, my recommendations. Back to FAQs


Help! Is my XXX phone, XXX PDA or XXX notebook model compatible with the HT820?

Sorry, I’ve only tested the HT820 on a few devices I own & I can’t confirm whether your device is compatible. The best bet is any Bluetooth capable handphone released late 2005 – early 2006 should be able to support A2DP. Otherwise, usually it can be through a firmware upgrade. For PC/Notebooks just make sure you obtain the latest Bluetooth stack upgrade from your manufacturer.

I’ve found a site featuring a very comprehensive list of devices which supports A2DP, feel free to check it out Through this link.

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