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Motorola S10-HD REVIEW

April 2012, updated March 2013

Along with a lovely BikeMount for my iPhone, I got a Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth headset for my birthday this month. Having a headset that was mostly waterproof and didn’t have a cable seemed like a good idea for the Northwest on the farm, and also on my bike. When my friend Mike Cobb showed me his the wheels started turning in my head.

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I’m actually not a huge headphone music listener, especially while I’m on the road as I do think it’s distracting. For longer rides it is helpful though, and I like being able to listen to podcasts as well, which I find less distracting from road noise. I actually really like the headset that comes with the iPhones, particularly since it doesn’t isolate outside noise so I can still hear what’s happening around me. I don’t have a lot of confidence in the wet weather performance of those ear buds though, and if the phone isn’t actually on my body while I’m plugged in I have a bad tendency of getting up and dragging my phone off of the desk, or where ever it happens to be at the time.

 

Basic Ergonomics

The headset is designed for working out so they call it sweat proof. It also means that it fits pretty snuggly and isn’t really going anywhere once it’s on. The only drawback here is that it squeezes just above my ears, which isn’t terrible, but also doesn’t let me forget that I’m wearing it, and after a while I do get a little sore. It also overlaps a bit with ear pieces on sunglasses, which isn’t a big deal with the Smith Sliders I wear, but you might want to check against whatever it is you wear (if you wear glasses)

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There are six buttons on the headset and a little port with a rubber door for the charger to plug into. The power button is on the very back and is a little small round dimple in the plastic. After a week I’m just starting to get the hang of how it works. It’s still not completely obvious to me when it’s on and when it’s off, when it’s connected to the phone and when it’s not. There are some blue and red lights that seemingly come out of nowhere that are supposed to flash and tell you what’s going on, but I haven’t internalized their code yet. Frequently I have to check on my phone to make the actual bluetooth connection. This may be because this headset isn’t really designed for iPhones, but rather Motorola phones. Each earpiece has three buttons. They are well labeled, except that you can’t see the labels when they are on. I’ve pretty much memorized what they are, but I still get them mixed up occasionally. On the right is the play/pause button and the forward and reverse buttons. On the left is the phone button, surrounded by the volume buttons. These buttons are a bit stiff and I end up forcing the earbuds farther into my ears when I press them. Fortunately they have little dimples so you can kind of tell where they are. They’re a bit tough to find with gloves on, but not impossible. They’re also a bit slow to respond, although they do beep when you hit them so that makes it more obvious that you’ve hit the target. The phone button answers calls, and when you’re not on a call it will activate Siri on the 4s with one touch, and call the last number you dialed with two touches (I’m not sure what it does on other phones). I wish the buttons were somewhere that I could squeeze them instead of just being able to press them. I also wish they were a little bigger, especially the power button.

 

Battery and Charging

The battery seems to have pretty good life, they claim up to 8 hours. It’’s been lasting most of a day. Once I figured out how to tell if it’s on and when it’s off I haven’t run out of battery by leaving it on accidentally. I also have a hard time remembering to charge the headset so I’ve run out of batter for lack of charge a few times. There are lights that are supposed to indicate wether you’re turning it on or off but I find it easier to have them on and listen to the beeps, which go up if it’s turning on and down if it’s turning off. There’s no power indicator that I’ve found so I can’t tell when I pick them up how much charge they have. Having the Bluetooth activated on the iPhone does make my phone battery go down a little faster. I’m not a heavy phone user though so I can make it through the day with no problems there.

 

Sound

I’m no audiophile, but it sounds decent to me. It has its own amplifier and I’ve found that it’s best to have the volume up all the way on the phone and then adjust the volume on the headset to get the best range. There is significant wind noise when using it on a bike. Basically the mic hardly works when I’m moving or if it’s windy out (not that I should be talking on the phone while I’m actually riding). If I turn up the volume I can listen to podcasts or music and still hear most traffic, but there’s also quite a bit of wind noise in my ears. There are different sized ear pieces that come with it so I’m experimenting to see if changing the size helps reduce the noise, without changing the comfort.

 

Range and Obstacles

Mike warned me when I got it that it doesn’t work great when it’s in your pockets. I’ve actually found that it works pretty well in all of my pockets, although I have occasionally had sound break up a little. It does seem to go through walls really well. I’ve been 30 or more feet away from my phone through two walls and still had perfect sound. Typically I’m much closer, and on my bike I usually have the phone mounted on the handlebars so there’s no obstruction there. My plan is to mount the phone on my Farm Hand Cart, which pretty much follows me everywhere on the farm. This will keep it out of my pockets and still handy for calls and other tasks. We’ll see how that plan works out.

 

March 2013 update

So, I have bad news, and I'm not sure what the cause is. The buttons were never great, but after a month or two they would give out on me and stop functioning. I waranteed it twice and finally gave up. I suspect it has something to do with moisture gradually getting into the works. I was wearing the headset for up to 8 sweaty hours a day in the field. Customer service, in my opinion, was horrendous.

Mike, who recommended the headset to me still has his original and it still works fine.I'm not sure what the difference is there.It's too bad because I was very nice to have the wireless option while in the field and while riding.

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