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Reviews

Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

By Legacy March 28, 2006, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

The HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones is one of the latest Bluetooth enabled products by Motorola. Even though US adoption of Bluetooth technology has been lagging the rest of the world, it is clear by Motorola's product lineup that they are committed to this wireless standard. This technology is the future for wirelessly connecting all kinds of consumer grade audio devices together. Having a company like Motorola behind the standard is excellent news for all who would like to shed wires once and for all. The HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones support the Bluetooth version 1.2 standard profiles for Advanced Audio Distribution (A2DP), Audio Video Remote Control (AVRCP), Hands Free (HFP), and Hand Set (HSP). Let's see how well these headphones perform and wear!

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WHAT'S HOT

Here's what's hot...

  • Simultaneously connect to a Bluetooth 1.1 or 1.2 compatible cell phone and A2DP/AVRCP compliant audio device

  • Wired input jack for non compatible audio devices

  • Lightweight behind the neck band design

SETUP

The Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones come in a round retail package.

The back of the package provides sample configurations to help ensure that the headphones will meet the purchaser needs.

The package includes the headphones, 110/220 AC charger, direct input cable, soft case, and instruction pamphlet.

The headphones are powered by a lithium ion battery charged with the included AC adapter. The charge time is 2 hours. Motorola appears to be standardizing its mobile products with universal mini USB connectors for charging and interconnection. The same charger works with the RAZR cell phone and other newer Motorola products. The two lit blue "M" symbols turn off when the battery is fully charged.

One of the banes of the Bluetooth user's experience is pairing compatible devices together. A de facto standard is emerging for Bluetooth enabled audio devices; by pressing and holding the power button for 6-10 seconds the device places itself in pairing/discovery mode. Since the Bluetooth A2DP and AVRCP profiles do not require pass keys, once the devices discover each other, they pair automatically. The power/call button on the Motorola HT820 headphones is on the left ear piece. Pairing/discovery mode is initiated by depressing the power/call button for 6 seconds until the blue "M" is steadily lit. When the other device is placed in pairing/discovery mode, both devices will find each other and pair. The Motorola HT820 headphones are successfully paired when the blue "M" flashes rapidly then slowly.

The Motorola HT820 headphones were tested with the following Bluetooth audio devices for this review: clockwise from the top left, the Motorola DC800 Bluetooth Home Stereo Adapter, the Motorola PC850 Bluetooth Stereo PC Adapter, the GlobalSat BTA-809 Bluetooth Stereo Audio Gateway for iPod, and the GlobalSat BTA-830 Bluetooth Stereo Gateway. We reviewed the GlobalSat BTA-830 here and will be reviewing the BTA-809, the Motorola DC800 and PC850 shortly.

The Motorola HT820 headphones can also be simultaneously paired with a cell phone supporting the Bluetooth 1.1 or 1.2 hands free or hand set profile. These profiles provide the ability to manage incoming and outgoing phones calls while pausing the audio player. The headphones were successfully paired with a T-Mobile MDA (a.k.a. HTC Wizard). The current version of the ROM for the T-Mobile MDA does not support the Bluetooth A2DP or AVRCP profiles. Should a ROM upgrade with the A2DP and AVRCP profiles become available in the future, the T-Mobile MDA would be able to act as a Bluetooth enabled audio player, as well as a cell phone.

The Bluetooth pairing process for the hands free profile requires the entry of a pass key. The Windows Mobile 5.0 pairing process is shown.

Once the pass key is entered the Motorola HT820 headphones and T-Mobile MDA are paired using the hands free profile.

PRODUCT FEATURES

Once the Motorola HT820 headphones are successfully paired, they provide a number of easy to use features.

There are four sets of controls. This image provides a front view of the headphones. On the image's right (left earpiece) the round Motorola "M" button provides for power, pairing and call control. The two rectangular buttons on top of the earpiece control the volume. On the image's left (right earpiece) the round Motorola "M" button provides for audio play, pause, and stop control, the two rectangular buttons on top of the earpiece control the track forward and backward. Pressing both of the track control buttons together turns off all the indicator lights.

The right earpiece contains an input jack for non Bluetooth devices. The included cable provides a standard connection using a 3.5mm stereo jack. The neck band fits comfortably without any tension on the ears.

The bottom of the right earpiece contains the DSP enabled microphone (red arrow).

The Motorola HT820 cell phone functionality depends upon the phone's implementation of the Bluetooth hands free profile (HFP) or headset profile (HSP). The cell phone is controlled by the left earpiece Motorola "M" and volume buttons. The Motorola HT820 headphones have the ability to make a voice dial call, receive a call, end a call, reject a call, redial the last number, answer a second call, use call waiting, join a 3 way conference call, place a call on hold, and mute a call.

The Motorola HT820 headphone audio volume is dependent on the source volume. Using multiple input sources pocketnow.com evaluated one earpiece's output using an Apple iPod playing Eric Clapton's After Midnight. This was not meant to be a performance test but was done to provide a real life relative volume, that a user might experience, in different configurations.

Using the headphone jack with the GlobalSat BTA-830 at full volume averaged about 68db.

Using the iPod dock connector fixed line output with the GlobalSat BTA-809 averaged about 52db.

The best volume output was achieved with the direct cable connection from the iPod headphone jack and averaged 70db.

Interestingly the iPod connected via the headphone jack to the Motorola DC800 yielded only an average of 58db.

The configuration with the Motorola PC850 Bluetooth USB dongle for the PC averaged 54db using iTunes. The iPod headphone jack yielded the top 3 sound outputs. Unfortunately by using this jack there is no way to use the Bluetooth AVRCP remote control profile. This diminishes the un-tethered functionality significantly and is a trade off to having a higher output volume. With the cushion seal of the earpieces, at 50+db the volume is still reasonable in a noisy environment. The fidelity of these headphones is excellent and compares favorably against any wired or wireless headphones in this price category. Mastering the button press sequence to control the cell phone takes a little time but proves to be very useful. The voice dial works very well with the T-Mobile MDA voice tag application. The sound quality of the DSP microphones is adequate. Individuals on the other end will understand you but there is considerable background noise.


HELP SUPPORT

The included MOTOSTART pamphlet provides step by step instructions for all key features. Support is handled by calling 1-877-MOTOBLU or using the Motorola website here.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones are compliant with the Bluetooth 1.2 standard for the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), the Audio Video Remote Profile (AVRCP), the Hands Free Profile (HFP), and the Hand Set Profile (HSP). They are compliant with the Bluetooth 1.1 standard for the Hands Free Profile (HFP) and the Hand Set Profile (HSP). The lithium ion battery is rated at 14 hours of music listening, 17 hours of talk time and 500 hours of standby time.

BUGS AND WISHES

Inherent with any wireless device are limitations of the technology. Bluetooth wireless technology uses low power transmission up to about 30 meters (10 feet). It is designed for shedding the wires of digital devices, but only works well within a single room in a line of sight operation or on one's person. Using your PC as a music source and walking around the house does not work, while having your iPod in your pocket and roaming around the house keeps the music flowing. Once you appreciate the personal nature of Bluetooth, you will never go back to a wired environment. Unfortunately, the Motorola HT820 headphones do not allow the storing of pairing information for multiple audio devices. Having to re-pair every time you want to use a new device is a hindrance to using the technology. There is no justification for this inconvenience, since there is no technical reason for not designing this capability into the product. My wishlist for the Motorola HT820 headphones includes:

Multiple A2DP/AVRCP stored device pairings

Sound booster or amplifier

Foldable neck band

PURCHASING

The Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones from Motorola here for $119.99. The street price on the internet ranges from $80 to $100.

Pros

  • Simultaneous audio device and cell phone connectivity
  • Ability to turn indicators lights off
  • Comfortable fit
  • Standard mini USB power connector
  • Excellent fidelity

Cons

  • Allows only one stored paired audio device
  • Significant learning curve on cell phone control
  • No foldable neck band

OVERALL IMPRESSION

For $80, the Motorola HT820 headphones provide an excellent value. The input jack extends their functionality beyond Bluetooth enabled devices. They are very comfortable to wear and are well built. A booster to amplify the volume when using the line out (e.g. iPod dock connector) of A2DP compliant devices would be nice addition. The battery time is more than acceptable at 14 hours of playing music, and the fact that you can use a universal mini USB charger is a big plus. I believe Bluetooth wireless technology is finally here to stay. Motorola is clearly taking a lead in this area and the HT820's provide a good example of what can be accomplished.

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