Review posted Feb. 2006 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
Motorola has been on the forefront of Bluetooth headset design, offering them in a variety of styles, prices and feature sets in the past year. You can see the results in their portfolio of Bluetooth wireless headsets, from the venerable HS850 which replaced the HS810, to the popular HS820, and the H500 and H700 Bluetooth headsets which are the hot new kids on the block. The Motorola H500 is the lower end model compared to the H700 which represents the high-end model in Moto’s Bluetooth headset collection. The H500 features 1.2 Bluetooth, a light and small form that’s easy to wear, good call quality and reasonable price.
The design of the H500 Bluetooth headset is similar to the HS820 with a more streamlined shape and sleek color combinations. The headset measures at 2.28 x 1.06 x 0.87 inches and weighs 0.55 ounces, smaller and lighter than the H820. This is one of the few Bluetooth headsets that offer different color themes, and the H500 currently comes in 4 color themes (Nickel, Pink, Ice and Magenta). Along with the base color for the face cover, the H500 has a shiny cap that goes well with the base colors and adds a sleek industrial look to the headset. The multi-function key sits close to top of the shiny cap with two volume buttons flanking the sides. You will find an LED light near the top of the headset and the microphone at the tip on the underside of the H500. The ear hook is soft and can be easily switched to fit either ear. The earpiece is dome slightly to better channel the incoming sound. You will find a mini USB charging port on the top of the headset. In our field tests, the headset proved to be light and comfortable to wear throughout the day.
The Motorola H500 has a built-in Bluetooth class 2 radio supporting both v1.2 and v1.1 enabled mobile phones. The headset supports both Hands-free and Headset profiles and was easy to pair with all the devices we threw at it. To pair the headset, first turn off the headset if it’s not already off, hold the multi-function button until the LED light turns solid blue (not blinking blue) with an audio indication, then use your phone to discover and pair with the headset using “0000” as the default pass code. We tested the Motorola H500 with the GSM Treo 650, the Treo 700w on Verizon, the i-mate SP5m on T-Mobile and the Nokia 3650 with Hands-free profile on Cingular, and all paired with the H500 without a hitch. Calls transferred between the phones and the headset seamlessly, and when a call comes in, both the phone and the headset played notification ringtones.
As mentioned, the Motorola H500 is the lower end headset compared to the H700 which has some fancy echo and noise cancellation software. But the voice quality is quite good for a headset in this price range. The incoming voice quality on all devices we tested was clear and full. The volume however is on the low side with the Nokia 3650 performing the highest in the incoming voice volume department while the SP5m experienced lowest volume. You should have no problem hearing the incoming voice clearly in low to mid noise level environments. But if you work in a very noisy environment, look at Bluetooth headsets such as the Cardo scala 500.
While the incoming voice quality is good on all handsets, the outgoing voice quality varies a bit on different phones. The Treo phones (both 650 and 700w) had low outgoing volume. Both the SP5m and the Nokia had nice and loud outgoing voice volume and quality. Motorola implemented an omni-directional mic to better pick up your voice, and it worked well for outgoing voice quality. Note that the Treo phones are known to have low outgoing voice volume via Bluetooth headsets, so we can’t blame the H500; though it would have been nice if the headset offered some automatic gain control to compensate for the quiet Treo. Kudos to Motorola for keeping noise level to the minimum for both incoming and outgoing voice.
The Motorola has decent but not stellar range in the Silicon Valley area where Bluetooth frequencies are often polluted. The Nokia and the SP5m Smartphone achieved 12-15 feet before both outgoing and incoming voices start to crackle and break up. The Treos barely achieved 10-12 feet, and beyond 12 feet, it will start dropping the connection to the handset. It won’t be a problem if you only use the headset in a car or by your desk.
The Motorola H500 Bluetooth wireless headset supports all basic phone features including voice dialing, reject calls, redial last number, hold and conference call as long as your mobile phone and phone service provider support these features. You can adjust the call volume by pressing the volume buttons on the sides of the headset, and mute/unmute during a call by tapping both volume buttons at once. The controls of the H500 are easy to use and simple to remember.
The H500 headset comes with a rechargeable battery. You can charge it with the included AC adapter, or if you have USB-mini USB cable, you can charge the headset with your PC. The headset charges in about an hour. The claimed talk time is about 10 hours, our tests showed about 8 hours though this includes pairing it with several devices. The claimed standby time is about 200 hours which seems to be on target as the headset goes to sleep after certain period of inactivity. The headset will play an audio warning when the power is low and the LED will stay on (blue) until the headset is fully charged at which point the LED will turn off.
Pro: Attractive design with various color themes (pink RAZR owners can now find a matching headset), easy to operate, very light and comfy to wear for long period of time. Good incoming voice quality and above average outgoing voice quality on most devices. Good battery life and attractive price.
Con: Range isn’t very impressive. Won’t play well in noisy environment.
The Motorola H500 package includes the headset, an AC travel charger, a two page Quick Start Guide and a printed User Manual.
-Profiles supported: Headset and Hands-free profiles.
-Claimed talk time: up to 10 hours talk time.
-Claimed standby time: up to 200 hours standby time.
-Range: 30 feet.
-Headset size: 2.28 x 1.06 x 0.87 inches.
-Headset weight: 0.55 ounces.
-Battery: rechargeable battery, 140 mAh.
-AC adapter: mini USB connector.