Gadling review: Motorola H17txt Bluetooth headset with MotoSpeak

In the world of Bluetooth headsets, most innovations happen in the design department – but the new Motorola H17txt with MotoSpeak is one of the first headsets to really add some long overdue new features to more than just looks.

The H17txt is a dual microphone Bluetooth headset with everything you’d expect from a top notch headset – multipoint pairing (allows you to connect to two phones at the same time), automatic volume adjustment and long battery life.

What sets the H17txt apart from the competition is its ability to read your messages, email and incoming caller ID to you. The headset does this through a smartphone application that can be installed on Android and RIM devices.

Once installed, you’ll be alerted when you receive a message, and if enabled, the headset will actually read the message to you. The same speech system is used to announce incoming calls and other features on your phone. The quality of the speech is very impressive, and makes it possible to drive without reaching for your phone to check on your latest email.

The headset itself is very compact, and features a flip microphone, which also acts as the on/off switch. This means you can turn the headset on (or off) without having to fiddle with a power switch.

The headset charges off MicroUSB, and operates for up to five hours off a full battery, or up to a week on standby. The Bluetooth options on the headset support the headset and hands free profile, as well as Bluetooth streaming music.

Other neat features include quick connect and an easy pairing mode which makes the pairing process easier, without the need for a pin.

The comfort level surprised me – once correctly inserted, you quickly forget you are wearing the H17txt – but the plastic ear clip was a bit of a pain to use, and I managed to have it snap my ear several times, which is quite painful.

Call quality is excellent – and passes my Bluetooth headset test by not making it obvious to callers that I was talking to them on a headset. Bluetooth music does not sound as good as on dedicated stereo headphones, but that can hardly be expected from a mono headset.

The headset also has several of its own voice prompts, so even if you don’t use it on a phone with the MotoSpeak software, you’ll still get helpful pointers. Volume is good, and no matter how much you shake your head, there is no way the headset will fall out.

The software for the H17txt is provided by, and offers a huge list of options and features. If the default voice doesn’t do much for you, you can tweak its settings, or pick a different voice.

All in all a very well designed headset, with the added bonus of the MotoSpeak features. Sadly, users with an iPhone won’t be able to use the voice features as it only works on Android and RIM (>version 4.5.)

The H17txt with MotoSpeak is available from BestBuy, the Moto Store or Verizon Wireless for $99.99, putting it in the same price range as most other high-end Bluetooth headsets.