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.

Plantronics giving away Bluetooth headsets in Twitter contest

As the end of the year approaches, some new states will be on the list of places where it is against the law to use your mobile phone without a hands-free device.

On January 1st, Hawaii joins the states and cities banning the use of mobile devices when driving. You are still allowed to use a hands-free headset, but you can not hold your phone, read your email or send text messages.

Violations will cost $150, or $500 if you caused an accident when using your phone.

A new Oregon state law also goes into effect on January 1st prohibiting the use of mobile devices for text messaging. Only adult drivers will be allowed to make phone calls when driving, and only when using a hands-free device.

To raise awareness of these new laws, Plantronics is offering free headsets to Twitter users. If you fancy a chance at winning one of their Voyager Pro or Discovery 975 headsets, head on over to Twitter and follow @plantronics, then send a tweet including @plantronics, #behandsfree and a link to during the Sweepstakes Period (December 1-29, 2009). One winner will even receive a headset and a $1000 gas card!

Plantronics also has a great overview of the laws by state, and as these laws all seem to vary from state to state, it really does pay to play it safe and invest in a good headset.

Daily deal – Samsung WEP210 Bluetooth headset for $8.60

Looking for a really cheap Bluetooth headset? My daily deal for today is for the Samsung WEP210 headset, for a mere $8.60.

In order to get the low price, you’ll need to get yourself to the Amazon product page, then be sure to check out the “more buying choices” on the right.

In that box, you’ll notice that Amazon themselves are selling it for just $8.60, with free shipping for Prime members, or about $5 for others.

The headset itself has fairly mixed reviews, some people rave about it, others complain about poor volume. Still, for $9 you can’t really go wrong.

The headset comes complete with a travel charger, and you should be able to squeeze about 70 hours of standby usage out of it.

Daily deal – Plantronics Discovery 640E Bluetooth headset for $15

My daily deal for today is for a (refurbished) Plantronics Discovery 640E Bluetooth headset.

This tiny Bluetooth headset comes complete with a “pen style” charger, and allows you to charge the device off AC power or with a single AAA battery cell.

The package also includes various other ear clips and gels, which should help you get the most comfortable fit for.

The Plantronics 640E has been refurbished, which means it was once returned to the manufacturer, and has been returned to its “as new” condition. Don’t worry about the ear pieces; those are all brand new and unused. Because the product is refurbished, it only comes with a 90 day warranty.

This headset used to retail for well over $100, but currently has it on clearance for just $14.99 with free shipping.

Daily deal – Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth headset for $50

With just 5 shipping days left before Christmas, now is the time to slowly start thinking about making those last minute purchases. My daily deal for today is for the Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth headset.

This headset is one of just a few out there that actually looks very stylish. The headset comes in a small leather case, which even contains a battery pack for charging the headset when you are not using it.

You can pick up the Discovery 925 in gold, purple and black. Of course, the most “normal” color (black) costs $5 more than the other 2. This headset usually retails for about $90, but Amazon currently has it on sale for just $49.99 ($54.99 for the black one).

Included in the package is the headset with its leather charging case, a MicroUSB charging cable and an AC adapter. You’ll also find 2 replacement earpieces. Be sure to check the shipping schedule, and to order with the correct shipping method if you need it on time for Christmas!