Phil and I got a demo of the Motorola XH1 Bluetooth headset [$109.95 (30% off!) - iMore Store Link] at CES 2010 and I've been road testing it ever since. The real in-ear, bone-conducting technology was intriguing, and since I really liked the Moto H17, I was curious to see how this one would stack up. So, let's take a look after the break!
The Motorola XH1 fights the war against noise with three levels of technology. It will normally cancel any background noise it finds. If that's not enough, it's CrystalTalk dual-mic system will kick in to actively cancel things like wind. I left the windows open during my daily highway commute (yes, in freezing Montreal winters -- what I won't do for our readers!) and most of the people I spoke to couldn't hear a sound.
And then there's the nu-cu-lar option, Stealth Mode, which actually turns off the mics entirely and instead reads the sound vibrations in your ear and converts that digitally into sound. It's not quite human, of course, but from the show floor at CES to the loudest places I could find in Montreal -- where I thought it would be useless -- it remained understandable.
In order to do the Stealth Mode bone conduction, the XH1 has to burrow rather deeply into your ear. To me it felt a little deeper than even your standard in-ear headset. I'll admit, I found it rather intrusive at first but I'm hypersensitive about that kind of thing and even I got used to it after a couple days. It is the price you pay for bone conduction.
Other than that, the ear loop and fit were great for me, and I've said repeatedly my grappling mashed ears aren't very tolerant of poor fit. Like all of Moto's recent headsets it comes with a few different earpieces so you have a good chance of finding a great match.
Unlike the H17 which has the boom flip-to-turn-on feature, the HX1 has an actual on-off switch, but it works well enough. Pushing the button activates the iPhone 3GS' Voice Control feature so you can speak to dial the phone, play or shuffle music, etc. Holding down the button will repeat the last call. There are also volume controls and the welcome standard of a micro-USB charging port with no finicky "door" cover to get in your way and ultimately break off.
Overall, the HX1's noise cancelation is among the best in the business and its looks are obviously intended to be more "executive" as well. I still prefer the boom on the H17 as on/off is just so easy with that design, but the XH1 is top of the line for a reason.
If you want a high-end headset that legitimately boasts "Star Trek" style technology, the XH1 definitely deserves a look... er, listen! (And hey, it's currently 30% off at the TiPb iPhone Accessory Store to boot!)
Disclaimer: the Motorola XH1 Bluetooth headset was provided for review by TiPb’s iPhone accessory store.
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