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Bluetooth Headset Review: The MOTOPURE H12

MOTOPURE H12 a top-notch Bluetooth headset for you, subpar for others

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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MOTOPURE H12 Headset

MOTOPURE H12 Headset

Image © Motorola
Guide Result: Split Decision
Recommended For: You
Not Recommended For: People You’re Calling

The premium MOTOPURE H12 Bluetooth headset – which has been Motorola’s pride and glory, “flagship” headset since Oct. 2007 – yields a split-decision result in this review.

While you’ll love nearly everything about it for you, you’re only half the battle. The people on the other end of the phone won’t feel the same way.
With the H12, Motorola promises to “silence the noise”. In testing the headset, which takes over the audio function of a Bluetooth-compatible cell phone (definition) while in close proximity, the sound clarity for you through the H12 can actually be considered superior to the cell phone itself.

This same experience, though, wasn’t felt on the other end of the call. Tests were conducted using a Samsung Upstage cell phone, a Motorola Z9 cell phone and various others.

Beyond the audio experience, the H12 conducts a number of functions perfectly but also overcomplicates some others. With luxury and technospeak aside, how does the H12 actually perform? We put the Bluetooth headset to the ultimate, real-life usability test.

Usability Testing of Sound Quality

For you, the H12 scores high in the sound quality and clarity department. The only improvement the H12 could muster for you would be the ability to crank the volume up a bit higher. Where the H12 creates grave cause for concern, though, is for the person on the other end of the phone.

John Downey is the senior manager of product line management at Motorola. He had “frequent involvement” in the H12’s creation and testing. In an interview with About.com cell phones guide Adam Fendelman, he says the H12 takes both sides (you and your caller) into consideration when it comes to audio quality.

Downey says the H12 specifically excels for the person on the other end of the phone.
MOTOPURE H12 Headset

MOTOPURE H12 Headset

Image © Motorola
“Especially when you’re in noisy environments, your voice is competing with the background,” Downey said. “We wanted to make sure it’s easy for people to hear you. That’s why the H12 has two microphones: one on the front that’s focused on your voice and a second you can’t see on the top of the headset.”

He added: “They compare the two voice inputs and subtract the background noise so the other person can hear you.”

But can others really hear you better? We put the H12 to the street test. We called various people who didn’t know they were being tested. We used the H12 in conjunction with several different cell phones. We called a diverse group of people who answered on both cell phones and landlines.

The result? Every single person said the traditional cell phone without the H12 headset active sounded “much better” and reported varying degrees of sound degradation when the H12 was active. Here are five comments from five different people who were unknowingly subjected to testing from the other end of the phone:
  1. “You sound far away like you’re in Egypt. You sound better without the headset.”
  2. “You sound like you’re in a tunnel. You sound better without the headset.”
  3. “You sound low, muffled and like you have a cold. You’re much more clear without it.”
  4. “You sound like you’re on speakerphone. You sound better without the headset.”
  5. “You sound like you’re on speakerphone. You sound better without the headset.”
The last two comments came from two different people with the same exact words.

Downey says the H12 isn’t designed for you to talk for long periods of time right next to the piercing sound of, say, a lawnmower. It’s more designed for you to be in everyday situations you can’t control such as on a busy street where an ambulance screeches by or a car honks its horn.

While there are other products on the market designed to cancel noise more aggressively, Downey says increasing that ability would have adversely impacted the H12’s design. He added: “To completely ‘silence the noise’ would make the headset bigger. We wanted to balance the optimum noise reductions for things people can’t control.”

Simple, Four-Button Design

There’s an on/off switch, a volume up button, a volume down button and a call button. There’s also two built-in microphones, a bright indicator light, a speaker, charging contacts and a detachable piece of plastic shaped like an ear to help the headset stay in place.

The H12’s box closes magnetically, which is an unexpected touch to bolster its attractive, silvery packaging. Its overall size is just right and its design is beautiful. Weighing in at only 12 grams, the H12 is smaller than the size of a pen cap. The H12 measures 42 millimeters by 18 millimeters by 12 millimeters.
MOTOPURE H12 Headset

MOTOPURE H12 Headset

Image © Motorola
Headset Indicators

There’s a challenge with the light indicators on the H12. The headset actually has a whole library of notifications to convey to you depending on the circumstance.

Since there are quite a few, it may be difficult or nearly impossible to remember what the H12’s trying to tell you in the moment when it matters. Specifically:

  • Three blue flashes means it’s powering on or off.
  • A quick blue flash means there’s an incoming or outgoing call.
  • A slow blue pulse means it’s connected and on a call.
  • A slow blue flash means it’s in standby mode and not on a call.
  • Steady blue says it’s in pairing mode, which means it’s syncing with your cell phone.
  • Rapid blue/purple flashing means the connection to your cell phone is successful.
  • A red flash means it’s idle and not connected to a phone.
  • A slow purple pulse means it’s connected to your cell phone with the call muted.
  • A quick red flash means the H12 has a low battery.
  • No headset indicator means the H12 is off.

  • But will you ever really remember all that and be able to differentiate between all these variations? The H12 would have been improved by conveying these indicators to you in a much simpler way. Continue reading on page two...

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