Bluetooth Headset Review: Motorola Buds

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I love my gadgets, and I love my music so it makes sense that I really love my music gadgets!

More often than not, when I’m listening to music at home or in the office I’ll use a headset of some type depending on the source of the tunes being played.

 

At home, and if the source is my laptop I’ll use an old but awesome pair of wired Sennheiser HD420SL open ear type (they’re what you see me wear on blogcasts). At the office with laptop as a source I use a set of BlackBerry wired earbuds, as sadly although my laptop has Bluetooth, it is functional only for data/mouse/keyboard, but not audio.

A while back though I wanted something wireless and still portable for my BlackBerry Passport, and the Motorola Buds seemed to fit the bill. Well, I’ve been using them a fair amount lately and I must say that they have exceeded my expectations.

Solid and well built.
Solid and well built.

This headset by Motorola is a solid device. The body of it is relatively stiff, but still flexible enough to make it easy to get on and off from around your neck. The device is also very light, weighing in at approximately 1.16oz, or just under 33 grams. This makes for a very comfortable experience, so much so that I tend to forget I have them on.

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The earbuds themselves are also comfortable for me. You get a choice of three different sizes so one of them is bound to be right for most anyone. I have found that they are very good for outside noise isolation which is a plus (unless you’re driving). The flat wires also do a great job of staying connected while being unobtrusive. I really don’t even notice them at all.

Another aspect of comfort is stability. As you move around these earbuds happily stay in place, and I never feel like the wires are tugging at my ears/buds. Not even a hint of being pulled out. Also there is almost none of that “piped in” noise associated with touching the wires and hearing the physical result. I can turn my neck in either direction with zero tug as well as up/down. Even shaking my head rapidly won’t dislodge the buds! I said no!

Oh yes… the buds can be conveniently be stored on the main body of the headset via magnets when not in use (ala LG Tone models). Very nice touch!

Adjustable rubber "O" rings to keep the flat wires in place
Adjustable rubber “O” rings to keep the flat wires in place

That’s all well and good, but what about the audio?

These babies do not disappoint in regards to audio quality. Let’s face it, wired headsets will quite likely remain the best in accurate reproduction for sometime to come, but Motorola has done an excellent job with the “Buds”.

For a more accurate musical experience the Buds are made incorporating the AptX codec. This is important as the device delivers a CD quality which is much more desirable than headsets without AptX in their Bluetooth stack.

A great feature is the built-in 3 way equalizer which offers bass boost, flat, or treble boost. This in combination with the BlackBerry built-in list of EQs in the native music app, or the graphic EQ in Neutron pretty much guarantees that you’ll find the right setup for your needs/taste. I like my setup with a bit of bass boost, presence on the mids, and crisp highs that bring out cymbals on the drumset. Easily achieved with this device. Switching the EQ on the headset is done while listening to a track and long pressing the call button on the lower left until a tone and voice tells you ” EQ changed”. Simple!

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Buds are conveniently stored on the device with magnets

Moving on to the controls, there are a few…

The on/off button is on the lower back of the device beside the rubber capped USB charging port. Long pressing it turns the Buds on or off. Off sends a tone to your ears, while ON gives a tone and a voice message “Welcome to Motorola Buds, device one connected”.

The bottom left key is the Call/Play/pause button as well as the aforementioned EQ setup. The top left key is to forward to the next track in your playlist if you press it once. Pressing it twice will go back a track so you can hear that favourite song again.

On the right side we have the Volume up/down keys. Pressing once in either direction produces an incremental change in volume, whilst long pressing continues the change in steps. Another cool feature is that the device can give you verbal feedback on remaining run time. Just pause the tune and then press both Volume up/down keys simultaneously. You’ll hear something like “More than 3 hours of play time”. Cool!

While we’re on the “cool features list, you get quick access to the BlackBerry Assistant when the music is not playing by long pressing the lower left Call key. I use it for verbally making phone calls by saying “Call XXX-XXX-XXXX”, or “Call Brad” (not that he ever answers the phone). Oh well…

Control keys are easy to reach
Control keys are easy to reach

You can get a good distance away from your phone and remain connected as well. Motorola suggests that you can be up to 150 feet/45 meters away, but those stats are often not realistic to say the least. In my tests I got up to about 60’/18m away when it started to break up. In reality, 50 feet/15 meters is fairly realistic. Wandering around the house is no problem including upstairs/downstairs. It must be said that your mileage may vary depending on the layout and construction of your home or office.

The battery is excellent on the Motorola Buds as well. I get many hours of continuous enjoyment out of the sealed/rechargeable battery. Note that you cannot replace it. It holds a charge for an extended period. The claim is 10 hours of use, and I get all of that it seems.

Call quality is also great. Phone calls are clear and not muffled. Callers also hear me well and aren’t asking me to repeat things. Being a phone guy by trade, that is a pet peeve of mine. Win!

Overall I really like this headset. I bought it a while back for about $70.00. A quick search shows you can pick one up for less than half of that these days. Can’t go wrong for either a primary or secondary headset IMHO.

The good:

Audio quality

Call quality

Battery life

Comfort

Integration with BlackBerry Bluetooth

Improvements?

Some people would like to see slightly longer flat wires from the device to the buds but they are just fine for me.

Well done Moto!

Gotta go, the new Bieber album is playing…

Psych!

Dave out.

Canuckvoip

Dave Matthews here. I'm a phone guy by trade supplying VOIP systems for business and industry. BlackBerry devices, playing PRS guitars in my band, golf, and RC flight are my current passions.

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