We've been playing with Motorola's recently-announced Endeavor HX1 for the past few hours, and we're just going to come right out with it: this is the best Bluetooth headset we've ever used. Moto claims that the HX1 is the world's first consumer headset to use "true bone conduction technology," a veiled (but obvious) reference to the external cheek-resting sensor found on Jawbone's devices -- and indeed, the Jawbone Prime is the most obvious direct competitor to the HX1. Both devices offer decent styling, feature optional earloops and a selection of earbuds for a tighter fit, are being positioned as premium headsets, and -- most importantly -- pack a ton of innovative circuitry all in the name of cutting noise in harsh surroundings. Follow the break for our quick impressions!
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Motorola Endeavor HX1 ears-on
We haven't had time to do proper battery testing, but in every other meaningful metric, we found the HX1 outperforms the Prime. For one thing, Motorola's set offers a simple, dedicated controls for call send / end, volume up / down, and noise reduction toggle (Moto calls it "stealth mode") plus a physical switch for turning the phone on and off; Jawbone's oversimplified two-button layout has always befuddled us, partly because we can never remember what combination of presses does what, partly because activities like pairing always seem like they're more complicated than they need to be. We also prefer the HX1's standard micro USB charging socket to the Jawbone's proprietary connector -- there's one less dedicated cable we need to tote around, and we find that it can be tricky to get a solid, reliable connection with the Jawbone's dock-style socket (it's a problem that's haunted them from day one, so we're not sure why they haven't moved away from it by now).
Though a clear plastic earloop can be connected to the HX1 to help secure it to the side of your face, we found that it's totally unnecessary because the actual bud -- the part that contains the speaker and the bone conduction sensor -- goes quite far into your ear canal and helps to lock the headset in place. Furthermore, the unusual bud shape serves to make calling far more realistic in extremely noisy environments because it's completely blocking out external noise in that ear and channeling sound as deeply as it can. The Prime, on the other hand, makes a stronger case for using the earloop -- the bud doesn't actually enter the ear canal at all.
So, what about the actual noise reduction? Motorola takes a very different approach than Jawbone; with the Prime, maximum noise reduction is always activated by default, and the company recommends that you leave it on unless you just want to demonstrate for a caller how well it's working. On the HX1, stealth mode -- the mode that uses bone conduction -- is normally off, so you're using a standard mic combined with Moto's well-liked CrystalTalk technology. To activate stealth, you press a button on the side of the headset; a soothing voice chimes in with "stealth mode on" and you're good to go. But why is it off by default? In our call testing, stealth mode is ridiculously effective at blocking noise and making you extremely audible -- the caller literally will hear nothing but your voice -- but it's at the cost of some clarity. We were told that we sounded a bit "muffled" -- not necessarily quiet, but as though we had a cloth over the mic or something to that effect.
We look at it as the best of both worlds. CrystalTalk is good enough for 90 percent of environments and situations that you'll encounter, and for the other 10 percent -- like when you're in an iron foundry or at a Cannibal Corpse concert, for example -- stealth mode saves the day. We're not sure exactly how much of the HX1's tech came from its Nextlink licensing agreement, but let's put it this way: Motorola's either designed a terrific product or made a terrific purchase.