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Reviews

Motorola HS820 Bluetooth Headset

By Christopher Spera March 26, 2005, 11:30 am

INTRODUCTION

    When I started using
cell phones in my vehicles, I began bumping into
this issue: how do you talk and drive at the same
time?  Many other people have the same issue,
but despite the obvious problems they have with holding
a cell phone in one hand and driving with the other,
they continue to wrack up those minutes.  The
first thought that comes to mind is for you to get
a headset, like the Jabra’s
EarWave Boom
.  While this solves the problem,
I don’t like wired headsets in my vehicles.  I
always find ways of getting myself, the phone and
my seatbelt tangled in the wire somehow.

    When
I got my Samsung
i700
, I purchased the Samsung
i700 Hands Free Kit
; and while this was a perfect
solution for my i700, it is device specific and
won’t work with any other device. Using the HFK
really spoiled me.  Being able to make calls
with an in-vehicle hands free kit is very nice.  Now
that I am using an i-mate PDA2k, my i700 HFK sits
vacant in my vehicle waiting for it to be removed.

    As
part of my MPx220 review kit, I also received Moto’s
HS820 Bluetooth Headset.  Let’s take a quick
look at it and see if it does the job as a good
an in-vehicle HFK.

WHAT’S
HOT
    Bluetooth
is the hot word for the day.  Its cable replacement
technology and capabilities make it an ideal medium
for in-vehicle communications. The Motorola HS820
Bluetooth headset is small, easily bonded to your
phone or device, and is fairly easy to operate.  Thankfully,
the device easily swaps from left to right ears
and does NOT stick anything in your ear; but instead
lays on top of it.  Because the headset is completely
wireless, its small and easily transportable.  However,
because its small, its also easy to misplace.  I’ve
even "lost" it while it was still on my
ear.  Its really that comfortable.  I completely
forgot that I had it on…

The
Motorola HS820 Bluetooth Headset

    OK,
brass tack time:  How does the device actually
perform?  Well, my results have been a bit
mixed; but that’s not because the headset was found
lacking.  While using the headset with my
PDA2k, I found that the volume was substantially
insufficient. No matter what volume setting I had
the PDA2k set at, no matter how loud it or the
headset was, I had a VERY hard time hearing the
other person speak.  Stick a wired headset
in the device, and you get the opposite effect
out of my PDA2k… The darn thing can be too loud
even at one of the lowest phone volume settings.  The
problem is not in the headset itself per se.  It
really lies with the Broadcomm Bluetooth Stack.

    I
have been trading an enormous amount of e-mail
with Carrier Devices about this issue.  In
fact, during recent months before this review was
published, Carrier Devices released 3 Bluetooth
patches and 1 ROM update.  All of them addressed
issues we had been communicating about.  Even
after the 1.22.00 WWE ROM upgrade, my PDA2k still
has Bluetooth issues relating to the HS820 Wireless
Headset.  I’m not certain what the final solution
will be or when it will be released (its been quite
a while since I have heard from my contact at Carrier
Devices); but they are still listing my Bluetooth
audio problems as an Outstanding
Issue
.

    The
results I got when using this headset with my Motorola
MPx220 review unit were completely different.  The
headset’s performance was much better.  While
the volume could also have been a little better,
I am again not blaming it on the HS820.  Instead,
I’m blaming most of it on the MPx220’s volume issues.  The
volume levels with the HS820 and with a wired headset
were effectively identical on that SmartPhone:
low.

    Interestingly
enough, when it came to battery life, the HW820
is amazing.  I have a couple of people that
I call every day on the drive home (free mobile-to-mobile
calling is a b-e-a-utiful thing!).  Drive
time is anywhere from 45 to 65 minutes depending
on the number of accidents on I-440 and I-24.  I
get in the car, place a call using the headset
and talk the entire time I’m driving.  Amazingly,
I can go 3-4 days or as long as a whole work week
without having any problems with battery life.  

Every
time I try to turn Bluetooth on, I will likely
have to soft reset the device..!

Tap
the BT icon in the tray, to turn the radio on,
as well as get access to The BT Manager and BT
Settings 

This
is probably one of the most frustrating things
in the world!  The resource heaps on WindowsCE
(the OS that WM2003SE is based on) get filled up
easily, it seems.  If this isn’t the EXACT
technical problem, it behaves just like a resource
heap issue.  Soft reset the device, and all
is right with the world again.  If there’s
one thing that MS needs to do with the next version
of Windows Mobile, its clear up problems like this.  I
often get the same problem with the MS WiFi Stack
(the icon next to the BT icon on the bottom bar…)  Soft
resetting clears enough resource memory for that
driver to initialize, too.

My
PDA2k’s Bluetooth Manager

Setting
up a BT Headset…

Searching
found the headset

The
HS820’s Passkey is "0000"

Green
is good.  The Audio Quality initially showed
a strong signal

However,
it dropped to almost nothing a second later!

As I
mentioned earlier, there are existing issues with
the BT stack in the PDA2k.  Even with some
of the most recent (unofficial) BT builds directly
from Broadcomm, the device STILL has audio quality
issues with the HS820 headset. I know that Carrier
Devices is working on resolving the issue, but
updates for the PDA2k have been light as of late,
due to updates being released for other devices
like the imate
JAM
.

    Using
the headset itself with either WM2003SE device
(MPx220 or PDA2k) is the same.  After the
devices are paired and Bluetooth is enabled on
the device, you simply slip the headset over your
ear.  Calls are automatically routed to the
headset from the device when both are active.  This
functionality was better on the MPx220 than on
the PDA2k because of the BT stack issues on the
PDA2k.  When the headset is actively paired
with either device and a call comes in, the headset
will beep.  Pushing its single button answers
and ends the call.

    According
to the collateral I was sent on the HS820, the
headset is capable of managing multiple calls,
can ignore calls, supports 3 way calling and can
place a call on hold.  Yeah… forget that
mess on the PDA2k and MPx220.  That doesn’t
happen. You get either an answer or hang up function
out of the call button on the headset, nothing
else.  If the MPx220 supports these features,
I couldn’t get them to work.  I downloaded
the HS800 Series User Manual, looking for the instructions
on how to use those features.  It doesn’t
mention ANY of these functions.  There is
no other manual currently available for the HS820
Bluetooth Headset as of this writing.  If
the headset supports those features, they MUST
be phone independent and in the Bluetooth stack
on a given phone, like Moto’s new Razr
V3.  If this isn’t the case, then the
collateral I was sent is erroneous.

 

SYSTEM
REQUIREMENTS
   The
Motorola HS820 Bluetooth headset will work with either
Microsoft or Broadcomm Bluetooth stacks, and supports
BT 1.2 protocols. 

BUGS
AND WISHES

    There
are just one or two things that I would like to see
improved in the HS820.  I’d like to see an updated
user’s manual.  The manual that I downloaded
is really for the HS810, not the 820. The collateral
that I have hints at some functionality that I don’t
know how to get to. My review unit didn’t come with
any manual or documentation to speak of.

    I
do think, however, that the headset’s volume range
needs to be larger and more comprehensive.  No
matter what I do, I just can’t seem to make it
loud enough for me to adequately hear while I am
driving.  The lack of volume kinda defeats
the purpose of a wireless headset.  If I’m
constantly pushing the headset closer into my ear
so that I can better hear the caller, I may as
well just hold the handset to my head…

PURCHASING

   
The
retail of the HS820 over at Motorola is
$79.99, but we were able to find a better deal at BluetoothHeadsets.com
for $64.95.

PROS


  • Works with
    either MS or Broadcomm Bluetooth stacks


  • Small and
    light


  • Nothing
    sticks in your ear


  • Right and
    left ear reversable

CONS


  • Volume
    is low


  • Easy to
    misplace due to small size

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    The HS820 is a decent headset.  When
I started this review, I really thought I would give the device high
marks; but the more that I think about it, the more mediocre it becomes.  While
the battery life is incredible, the volume level stinks; and while
I attributed most of that to the devices I was working with, I really
think that the headset should have had a way to over come those problems
(like with a larger volume range).

 

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