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Motorola BH680 Bluetooth Headset

Thu Oct 16, 2008 - 10:43 AM EDT - By Justin DeJarnette

Overview

Update: Uh, as it turns out, the charger for the H680 headset isn't so proprietary after all. The case actually uses Micro-USB, the same interface employed by the Treo 800W and the Treo Pro. In fact, it looks like we'll be seeing a lot more of Micro-USB, as the Open Mobile Terminal Platform has named this the standard to be used by a bunch of big-name phone manufacturers (see http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2007/09/21/phone-manufacturers.html).

Thanks a bunch to reader Michael Winfield to pointing this out!


Nowadays, everybody and their mom seems to have a Bluetooth headset. Literally, everyone. And being that I have owned four Treos and one Centro (including 3 Bluetooth-capable models), and that I am a total gadget lunatic with a really cool job writing about really cool gadgets, you would probably surmise that I have, at some point, owned (or at least used) a Bluetooth headset. But no, I had never used one. Not even once.

Upon further examination, I realized why this is the case: I use my Centro for so many things, and the least of which is talking on the phone. That’s kind of strange, seeing as how it’s a phone first, and all the other stuff basically just adds to the fun. But for me, it’s all the other stuff that I actually use. If, all of a sudden, the phone functionality didn’t work, I would probably be just fine.

One thing that is for sure, however, is that when I do talk on the phone, I absolutely hate having to hold the phone to my head. And though I’ve never had a Bluetooth headset, I own several pairs of Bluetooth headphones, which I absolutely can’t live without. Every pair of headphones I own (or have owned) also have microphones and can be used to talk on the phone as well as listen to music. But the headphones are not designed for talking, and therefore aren’t all that good for it. So when the chance to review this Motorola BH680 headset came along, I figured I would give it a try.

The Motorola website lists the following features:

  • Sleek: Vacuum metal sides and high gloss finish top
  • Small: 41x18x12mm
  • Included Case: Stylishly charges and helps protects headset
  • Easy Pairing: Exclusive technology simplifies connecting to your compatible Bluetooth® enabled device
  • Ergonomics: Shape, materials, and patented ear clip optimized for wearing comfort
  • Talk Time: Up to 9 hours
  • Standby time: Up to 300 hours
  • Weight: 12g
  • Wireless Range: Up to 10m (33ft)
  • Universal: Works with compatible Bluetooth® enabled phones.

Design

The BH680 is a particularly cool-looking headset. First of all, it’s very small and never becomes cumbersome to wear. You can hang this thing in your ear all day and barely even notice it. The earpiece pits just inside your inner ear, as I’m learning that most of these headsets do. For some reason, I always thought you had to wedge them further into your ear canal like a lot of those ear bud headphones that I can’t stand. The H680 just rests comfortably in there, with the speaker projecting into, not entering, the ear canal. There’s also a flexible plastic ear loop thing that goes over your ear to keep it from falling out of there. The ear loop thing is removable, so you can turn it around depending on which ear you prefer to use.

There are three buttons on the device: one on the outwardly-facing black panel you press to answer/end calls, and two volume /- buttons on the top. The buttons are very well-placed and easily accessible when you need them. No need for a lot of fumbling around when a call comes in.

There is also a power switch on the back, which is dedicated to turning the headset on and off. I like the fact that there is a hard switch, as opposed to a soft button. It’s just much easier to know for sure when you have flipped that switch on or off.

The BH680 comes packaged with a cool little carrying/charging case, which houses the device when not in use. The case is cool because not only does it protect the headset, but actually makes it a little harder to lose. (If anybody reads my reviews regularly, you might notice a little pattern here. Losing small gadgets and/or accessories is quite an issue for me.) The headset is so small, I can imagine losing it quite easily, especially if I’m wearing it about, or transporting it to and from my car.

As cool as that case is, it also represents this device’s biggest negative. The only way to charge the BH680 is while it’s in the case. There is no port on the device itself through which to charge it, so if you stow the headset in your car or in a bag or somewhere, you have to have it in the case when the internal battery runs out. This can be troublesome, as not everybody is going to want to have to carry the unit and the case at all times.

And, if that little tidbit isn’t bad enough, the BH680 comes with its own proprietary AC adapter, which means that you have to have this one, single-purpose plug with you to charge the unit as well. This is more than a little pet peeve of mine: it’s more like a total deal breaker. I detest devices with proprietary chargers. I personally think that every device manufactured after like, 2007 should use mini-USB, since it seems that the majority of devices use this standard. (I make an exception for my Centro. At least Palm has used the same proprietary power adapter since the Treo 650, and I have so many chargers all over my house, car, and office now that it doesn’t matter so much anymore. And they’ve addressed this issue with the Treo 800 and Treo Pro, so they’re only a year behind my little cut-off date.)


Usability/Sound quality

Motorola lists talking time at about nine hours, and I’ll have to take their word for it. My mom probably wishes I could talk that long sometimes, but I would jump headfirst off the top of my building if I were ever on the phone for more than about an hour and a half. I should probably have given it to her and had her call my grandmother. Those two can really go. They probably could have given that nine hours a run. I will say that I got a lot of use out of it without charging it though. As long as you charge it every couple days or so, most of you will be just fine.

The BH680 sounds very good. I can hear the person on the other line very well, and everybody I’ve talked to has had no problem hearing me. I tried it out in my car, with the windows down, and had no problem at all. There is a bit of “fuzz” for the person on the other side if you have a lot of background noise, but it only comes into play when you’re talking. This is nothing major, and doesn’t inhibit the other person’s ability to hear everything you’re saying clearly. The only problem I had as far as sound quality is that every once in a while, the volume would seem a little low. This was rare though, and almost not worth mentioning.


Conclusion

This is a very, very difficult product for me to score. I love the size, look, and usability of this headset. It sounds good,looks cool, and does its job well. But that doggone charger… It’s hard for me to get past it, especially with there being so many headsets on the market that have mini-USB ports on them. No need for little charging cases or proprietary AC adapters. I’m going to guess that 99% of the people reading this review on this website have either a USB-to-mini-USB cable and/or a mini-USB AC cable already. With that in mind, why not just buy a headset you already have a charger for? However, if this is not an issue for you then by all means, go ahead and pick one of these up.





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Criteria 

Rating

Cost/Benefit 4
Features 4
Usability 5
Design 4
Overall
(not an average)
Pros
  • Very good sound quality
  • Small, comfortable to wear
  • Cool charging case
  • Cons
  • Proprietary AC adapter


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