Tech Review: Motorola CommandOne Bluetooth Headset

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With laws forbidding handheld mobile phone use while driving on the books in at least eight states and many more localities, a wireless headset is a must for anyone who needs to phone on the go. The CommandOne Bluetooth headset from Motorola is one example of the latest generation of wireless headsets that pack a lot of features and performance into a very small package.

Forget those older, bulky headsets with their gaudy blue LEDs and Star Trek stylings. The CommandOne is lightweight, small, and discreet. It’s so small, in fact, that I occasionally found it hard to find the miniature call button.

Once you’ve paired the headset to your Bluetooth-enabled phone, you just switch it on and go. The CommandOne can even pair with two different phones at the same time, which is a great feature if you travel with separate phones for home and work.

The headset is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery, which seems more than adequate for a full day’s travel. Plug it in via the included MicroUSB adapter and it will go from zero to fully-charged in about half an hour, which gets you around four hours’ talk time. Battery drain in standby mode is negligible; Motorola claims the CommandOne can stay powered on for up to a week.

The headset’s overall audio quality is solid. My voice actually sounded clearer over the CommandOne than through my phone’s built-in microphone, even from a crowded room. Unfortunately, however, not even Motorola’s vaunted noise-canceling technology was much help outdoors. On a breezy day, the other party heard lots of wind noise on my end, and disappointingly there was no feedback in my earpiece to let me know my voice wasn’t clear.

The CommandOne gets really clever when paired with a free app from Motorola called Motospeak. With Motospeak activated, your phone will read incoming text messages aloud using a synthesized voice, and you can optionally reply by speaking into the headset. In my tests, both Motospeak’s text-to-speech and voice recognition capabilities were impressive, provided I limited myself to short phrases. I would have liked a way to initiate new texts, however, rather than just replying to incoming ones, and Motospeak’s voice UI is a little clunky. The app is available now for Android phones (though you’ll need one of the latest models to use the voice dictation feature) and it’s coming to BlackBerry soon; iPhone users are out of luck.

All in all, the CommandOne is a nice device with a classy design and good voice quality - provided you keep the windows rolled up. Motospeak could use some improvement (and broader hardware support would be nice), but for a list price of $129.99, this headset is a good value.

Neil is a confirmed gadget and technology junkie, and has covered topics related to business computing and the Internet for a variety of publications for more than ten years. He lives in San Francisco. View all posts by Neil McAllister This entry was posted in Money, Technology and tagged android, blackberry, bluetooth, smartphone, wireless. Bookmark the permalink.
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