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REVIEW: Motorola Bluetooth Home Entertainment Solution HT820/DC800
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 23.12.05 - 13:49:21 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 64314x
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Motorola lately updated their previously released Bluetooth Stereo headset HT820 with a stereo Bluetooth gateway addition (called DC800) and this combo is called the Motorola Bluetooth Home Entertainment Solution HT820/DC800.
While the stereo headset supports the standard Bluetooth headset profile (it has a small microphone in the right earphone), it also supports the Bluetooth stereo A2DP profile for music streaming as well as the AVRCP profile to remote control bonded Bluetooth devices. Basically it means you can use the headset for a couple of scenarios: as a headset for your mobile phone voice calls, stereo headset for your (stereo profile enabled) mobile device to listen music as well as remote control your mobile device media player and in combination with a PC as headset for VoIP calls.
The stereo gateway supports A2DP only and can not be used as a Bluetooth dongle with PCs since it misses the required connector. Instead, it is connected via chinch plugs to any audio source. The package includes all required cables, power plugs and chargers including a chinch to chinch cable as well as a 3.5" to chinch cable to connect the gateway either to your HiFi via chinch or any other source (like Media Center PCs or Notebooks) with the 3.5" connector.

Bonding the headset with the gateway is a piece of cake and Motorola made it as simple as possible that even non-Bluetooth users shouldn't face a problem here, if they follow the manual. After both devices are paired, the audio stream is transmitted immediately to the headset. Since the gateway is a Bluetooth class 1 device, theoretically it transmits up to 100 meters which you will not reach in reality, at least not in closed environments like apartments. However, the range is good enough that you should be able to roam through your domicile without loosing the connection between the headset and the gateway. This allows you to listen your music in stereo, without disturbing others and without staying in the same room where your media speakers are.

A specialty of the headset is to support (no surprise, since it is specified that way by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group) concurrent Bluetooth connections. This means, that you can bond the headset with your Bluetooth enabled mobile phone and can connect it in parallel to the media gateway. In case you receive a call while you are listening music, the stereo transmission mutes and you can take the call. As soon as you hang up, the stereo transmission continues. With this Bluetooth stereo/headset combo you will not miss a single call.

If your mobile device also supports A2DP, you can also bond both profiles in parallel to one single device. For instance you can listen music as well as making phone calls with your AKU2 enabled Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone (see my previous review about the stereo Bluetooth support of Windows Mobile's AKU2 here). It works similar to the wired standard headsets which comes with most of the Smartphones and Pocket PC Phone Editions where these headsets are used for both, audio and voice. And again the playback is muted or even paused if you receive a call (the mute/pause functionality depends on the mobile device).

Using the headset as a remote means you can do two things: controlling your mobile phone (as you might used to do already with standard Bluetooth headsets as well) and controlling the media player of supported devices.
Also here, Motorola tried to make it as easy as possible to remember the functions. One the left side of the headset, you have the call start/end button (which can also activate voice command functionalities of your mobile device, if supported) and the volume up/down buttons.
On the right side, you have the play/pause button and the next/previous song button.

As said, the headset functionalities are the same as with standard headsets and you can accept, reject and hang-up calls as well as you can change the call volume (as well as the audio volume if you listen music). However, even more interesting is the remote control functionality which lets you control the media player of the attached Bluetooth stereo device (as long as it supports the Bluetooth AVRCP profile which most A2DP devices supports in addition too). Here you can play and pause a song, jump to the next or previous one without taking the device out of your pocket. This is more than handy since you don't need a second (wired) control and provides the best user experience you can expect.
If you are not allowed to use Bluetooth in certain environments - like aircrafts - you can also connect the headset with your mobile device using an included seperate cable. However, if you connect it this way, the remote control functionality doesn't works at all.

According to Motorola, a single battery charge last 12 hours for music streaming and 15 hours for phone calls. That's far more than any Windows Mobile device can be used for today and should be enough.
The headset is charged with the included power adapter, which is the same power adapter like used for Motorola mobile phones like the MPx200 or Razr V3.

Final Conclusion

The stereo gateway and the headset works perfectly together simply trouble-free and allows you to listen your music up to 100 meters away from the source. Pairing both devices couldn't be easier. So far so good.
I'm a little bit disappointed about the stereo gateway potentials which is a pure and dumb audio "converter". Even if it has a mini USB connector, you can not use it as a Bluetooth dongle with your PC, let's say a Media Center PC. This mini USB is the power plug only, not a communication plug. This misses the opportunity to get the music transmitted fully digital, end-to-end, but it takes the analogue signal from the chinch plug and converts it back to a digital Bluetooth signal. Also it means you have to buy a second Bluetooth dongle, if you want to use the headset for bidirectional communication, let's say as your headset for VoIP. At the end it means you don't need the whole combo, if you plan to use the headset with your Media Center PC but better buy the headset only plus an additional Bluetooth dongle which supports the A2DP stereo profile as well. In this case, you can stream the music from your Media Center to the headset as well as you can use the microphone of the headset for VoIP communication. Here, Motorola missed a real opportunity, especially because Motorola also provides such A2DP enabled Bluetooth USB adapters.

The headset is comfortable to wear (even/especially for me as I'm wearing glasses as well) and the use and navigation functionalities are placed well. It's a great headset for both, listening music as well as making phone calls, even if I have to admit it's a little bit too silent. If you tune the volume to the maximum, it's still lower than a comparable wired headset. While it is loud enough in rooms and silent environments, you will notice it in streets with lot of traffic or loud environments. Also you can definitely hear weaknesses in bass and highs playbacks. Nothing which makes it unusable but in the direct comparison with high-end HiFi headsets you can notice the difference.

Maybe the biggest problem, depending how strong your ego is, is the size and bulkiness of the headset. It's thick, really thick and it looks a little bit like the hairstyle of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars.
Not a big problem in Winter, where most of the folks around you might think you are wearing earlaps but anyway, it looks a little bit strange and therefore I always get (too) many looks if I'm walking around with the headset.

On the other hand, I don't want to miss the headset anymore for voice calls in loud environments. While it is not stereo for phone calls, both speakers are used and therefore you can hear your partner crystal clear.

All together, the headset gets my recommendation, even if it looks and is bulky (hope v2 will becomes smaller) but the handling is perfect. The stereo gateway missed the opportunity to be a Bluetooth adapter as well which makes it more useless for me, since I use a Media Center as my only HiFi but on the other hand it saves money if you want to use it with your TV, DVD or regular HiFi only where you don't need a full blown Bluetooth adapter solution which would makes the gateway more expensive.

The Bluetooth Home Entertainment Solution HT820/DC800 combo is available from Motorola for 149 Euro, the headset allone is available for 99 Euro.

Cheers ~ Arne

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