Motorola MotoRokr S9 Bluetooth headphones
Wireless headphones without the baggage
Review Lacking additional boxes, dangling wires or ear-dragging weights, Motorola's S9 is what a set of Bluetooth headphones ought to be - as long as your head is the right shape for them.
The problem with Bluetooth headphones is the need for bulk, mainly for the battery but also the receiving circuitry and controls - not to mention some sort of connection between the ears. Various designs have incorporated oversized ear pieces, dangling toggles and even 1970s style on-ear boxes to accommodate the necessaries.
Motorola's S9: bulging with electronics
The Motorola S9 gets round the problem by putting all the electronics in a bulge that rests on the back of the neck. Anyone with hair down to their shoulders will find the headphones almost invisible, though non-hippy types will find themselves sporting an apparent carrying handle, which friends and colleagues may find irresistible.
Other innovations are less welcome: while some headphones sport pads that rest on the ears and others fit snugly into the ear, Motorola has managed to make ear pieces that fit into the ear a bit - but not enough to offer any benefit. They offer all the comfort of ill-fitting in-ear headphones, without any muffling of external sounds that such 'phones normally provide. Three sizes of earpiece sleeves are supplied, but none of them seemed to fit our ears as well as they should have.
The unusual shape of the S9 is also non-negotiable. They don't fold up or compress in any way, but are at least robust enough to drop in the bottom of a bag without fear of damage.
Whether you find the S9 headphones comfortable will depend on the shape of your head. If it matches then they are very comfortable, otherwise it feels vaguely as though one's head is being held in a clamp for x-raying - not exactly uncomfortable, but a bit weird. The clamping effect may be down to the importance of their staying in place during exercise, and the rubber construction would certainly place them well in such an environment where the 'phones could easily survive sweat and knocks. The six-hour battery life was longer than anyone at Register Hardware could work out for, but an equivalent number of shorter sessions seemed to bear out the quoted capacity.
Once you get used to the shape the 'phones are as easy to use and operate as they should be. The bulge conceals a standard mini-USB connection for charging, and a power button which is held down for Bluetooth pairing. Once the S9 was charged we were paired up and working within seconds.
...of Motorola's policies not the headset.
A friend has one of these and loves it. I was asking him about it, and was interested in buying one for myself.
Then the bombshell... he commented that at one point one of the rubber in-ear bits got knocked off and lost. He called Motorola to buy a replacement. They would not sell him one. His only option is to buy a whole new headset.
I wouldn't touch this thing with a 10-meter pole...
I picked up one of these units (thankfully not at the horrifying retail of $130, but a decent lunch cheaper than $100)
Battery life: good
Range: acceptable with line of sight (Bluetooth? Nah, maybe they're IR?)
Sound: Quality OK but you sure aren't going to damage your hearing with them. Phone portion works acceptably.
I do regret the purchase for the most part. See other reviews for detailed descriptions.
This thing is pants
I tested one of these, it's complete pants. Yes, it's uncomfortable, yes, the buds don't really fit IN your ears, nor ON your ears (so intrusive AND don't block out noise), blurb says they're "adustable"... which is not strictly true, you can only rock the whole unit up or down. Sitting on a highish-backed chair? Bulge at the back keeps bumping annoyingly.
Music sound quality? Average at best for BT headset, well below a set of wired earbuds. Call sound quality? Average. Repeated breaks in connection? You betcha.
The controls are annoyingly hard to locate by touch, and they're so incredibly sensitive that just brushing them knocks it to the next track/volume up or what have you. I didn't try, but buyer reports I've seen say that using it during gym (i.e. sweating) toasts them. So bang goes their USP that they're good for "active use".
Basically most BT headsets suck, so rated against them it maybe deserves a 70% rating versus the best possible BT headset. As a product on its own it gets about a 50% rating ito it's intended functionality.
Catch up 'El Reg..
I've had a pair of these for about 6 months and still love them.
Ability to charge from USB is great (if only my Nokia 6300 did that!).
If they are too tight you can 'bend' them open a bit.
The in-ear sleeve things can pop off quite easily if caught by a pocket etc.
Sound quality is excellent for me (192kbps MP3 from Nokia 6300).
Controls are small, fiddly and sensitive and take a fair bit of getting used to but are fine when you do.
They can fit in a largish inside jacket pocket.
I've had these for a few months now and generally I like them. First off they dont rest on my neck, no where near it.
I was worried about the battery life to start with, but its actually not that bad, because you save battery on your phone to a certain extent.
Also, I have long hair and if I put my hair over them I look like a wierdo (well more like one).
In the manual it says to put the player device in the top third of your body, however I find that my back trouser pocket is best as it has line of sight to the bit at the back then.
My main concern when using them in the office is that the battery will run out, causing my phone to start playing out of its speaker exposing my bad music taste to all! (It will beep twice before running out but you could easily miss it).