Over the years, Bluetooth headsets have gotten a bad rap. When they first came out, they were pretty big, and, quite frankly, ugly. They quickly became popular with the stereotypical obnoxious businessman, who looked like he was loudly talking into thin air, without a care, to the people around him. However, since then, Bluetooth headsets have gotten a lot smaller and sleeker. They are no longer as popular with suits, who now spend more time struggling to type on their smartphone and walk at the same time, so it’s a little more socially acceptable to be seen wearing one. Also, with the new rules for phone use when you are on the road, they are a necessity when driving.
One of the latest Motorola Bluetooth headsets is the HK250, which is a mid-range device that is a good compromise between price and performance. I got to spend some time with it, and you can check out my thoughts on it below.
In my opinion, the two most important things that a good Bluetooth headset needs to have are comfortable ergonomics for extended use, and excellent sound-quality. Everything else - style, range, battery life, and size - are secondary, but still worth taking into consideration. The HK250 easily passes the first two requirements, and meets some of the others.
The HK250 is a small, light-weight, unassuming, black plastic in-ear headset. It has a clear plastic ear-loop, and a lightly cushioned ear-bud. The clear plastic of the loop makes it less visible when wearing it, but I did find that the hard plastic was not as comfortable on my ear as other headsets that have a rubberized coating on the loop. Also, since it is hard plastic, it can’t be bent to fit your ear better, and it looks like it’s more liable to snap if bent too much. The ear-bud doesn’t have enough cushioning, so it didn’t fit into my ear as well as it could have, and there are no additional tips included with the HK250 that you can use to adjust the fit better.
Overall, while I only found the HK250 moderately comfortable to wear, I did find that the ergonomic issues were counter-balanced by its light-weight. However, it never felt like it was really secured to my ear properly, so I wouldn’t recommend using this headset when exercising. It would have been nice if Motorola had included more options in the box to adjust the fit to different people’s ears, but that would have added to the cost, and, I guess, defeated the purpose of it being a value priced headset.
The HK250 has a power button on the bottom, a single volume button on top, and the face of the headset acts as the action button, to answer or initiate calls. While I do like the fact that there is a proper power button so you can be sure it’s off when you are not using it, I didn’t like the single volume button. Instead of the traditional volume up and down buttons, the HK250’s single button only lets you scroll between three pre-set volume levels. I do like, though, that you can hold down the button to mute calls.
The HK250 does have a very cool voice prompt feature that I have not seen in any other Bluetooth headset. When you turn it on and pair it with your phone, a voice tells you that it’s paired, and what the battery level is. The voice prompts also tell you when a call is muted, and provides verbal numeric caller ID when you receive an incoming call. This feature works with any phone, and is one of my favourite aspects of the HK250.
It also has something that Motorola calls “integrated Multipoint technology” which lets you connect the headset to two devices at once. The idea being that if you have both a work and personal phone, you can take calls from either phone on the same headset. However, in practice, this featured didn’t seem to work properly for me. While I could get the headset to pair with the two Android phones that I was using (an HTC One S and Galaxy Nexus), I could still only take calls from one phone. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to test the Multipoint feature with other phones, using a different OS, to see if that was the case.
The headset also supports audio streaming with A2DP, though, for the life of me, I don’t know why you’d want to listen to music through a mono earpiece. However, I guess this feature could come in handy if you were using the HK250 to listen to recorded meetings to transcribe them.
Call quality, battery life, and range
While the HK250 doesn’t have two microphones, and other high-end noise cancelling hardware, it does have noise reduction technology for “wind and echo cancellation”. In practice, I found that, in most environments, the headset had excellent sound quality and volume. However, in very noisy environments, the noise reduction wasn’t as effective as some higher-end headsets I have used, but, of course, you shouldn’t expect to be, considering the HK250 is less than half the price of those models.
Motorola claims that the HK250 has up to seven and a half hours of talk time, and ten days of standby, both of which are very good. While I didn’t make enough phone calls to see if this figure was actually true, I have been using the headset on and off for the past week and haven't had to charge it yet.
The specifications say that the Bluetooth 3.0 HK250 has a 300ft range. This is the one figure that I definitely think has been overstated a bit by Motorola. While I am sure in perfect conditions, with direct line-of-sight between the headset and phone, that the HK250 could work from 300 feet away, in real world conditions the range is a lot less. In my home, when moving from room to room, I found that I had about 30 feet of range.
- Talk Time: Up to 7.5 hours
- Standby Time: Up to 10 days
- Bluetooth® Version: 3.0+ EDR
- Weight: 8.5g
- Dimensions: 45.1mm X 18.9mm X 11.7mm
- Noise reduction technology for clear calls
- Up to 300 FT Extended Roaming Range
- Streaming audio with A2DP
- Voice Prompts
The Mk250 is not the most stylish headset, since it lacks the metal accents and exotic materials that some other headsets are made from, but it doesn’t need to be. It is small and unassuming, and designed NOT to be detected. For many, this is exactly what they are looking for in a Bluetooth headset. It has great call quality, excellent battery life, decent range, and has some unique features, like the voice prompts, and the dual-device pairing.
Overall, I think that if you are looking for a good, reasonably-priced, Bluetooth headset, you can’t go wrong with the HK250. The HK250 will be available from Future Shop soon, and should retail for around $40.
You can learn more about the HK250 on Motorola’s website.
All pictures © Alex Davies
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