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Motorola HS850 Bluetooth Headset

>> Monday, October 13, 2008

The Motorola HS850 is the company's update to their HS810 headset, one of my personal favorites. The changes made to produce the new HS850 are few, but the effect is relatively substantial. But first, let's start with what is the same. Like the HS810, the HS850 makes use of a body design that employs a folding microphone boom. The folding microphone boom acts as the on and off switch, as well as just providing a convenient way to make the headset smaller and more pocketable when not in use.
When a call comes into your phone, you can turn on and answer the phone at the same time just by unfolding the microphone boom. You can end the call and turn it off by removing the headset and re-folding it.
Using the headset in this way conserves battery power, since no battery juice is wasted on standby time time where the headset sits around waiting to be contacted by a mobile phone or other compatible device. The physical design of the HS850 and the battery savings it imparts is my favorite aspect of the Motorola HS850.
Of course you don't have to remove and turn off the headset between calls. If the headset is already on when an inbound call comes, you will hear the ringing come through on the headset and can answer it by pressing on the main multi function call control button. You can end the call with this same button, and adjust volume levels with the two volume buttons. If you are using a phone that supports the Hands Free Bluetooth profile, then you can also use the call control button to reject an inbound call or redial the last number.
The HS850's audio properties are also like those of the HS810 before it. The audio quality in both directions is very clear and understandable, but sounds a bit thin. You and the party on the other end of the call will both be able to understand each other easily, it just doesn't sound as full and natural as it might with some other headsets. The HS850 makes up for this small lacking by having great resistance to wind noise, though.
That makes the headset perfect for people that enjoy driving with their windows down, or those that work outside. Most headsets are very susceptible to wind noise, the HS850 bucks that trend. And now for the new stuff. First up, a more powerful battery. The HS850 I tested managed an amazing 7 hours and 50 minutes of talk time. That is a full two thirds improvement over the older model. The truly amazing part is that this new battery life didn't come at the expense of added weight. Like the HS810 before it, the HS850 weighs only .7oz (19.9g).
The next major change perhaps sounds more important than it worked out to be in reality. The HS850 supports the newer Bluetooth v1.2 spec, whereas most headsets support v1.1 only. Motorola claims that when used with a v1.2 compatible phone (there are still relatively few available at the time I write this), the HS850 will be able to connect faster, use less battery power, and offer improved audio quality. While I can see what appears to be a slight improvement in connection speed, I haven't really noticed much of a change in battery life or audio quality.

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