Motorola H17txt Reviewed
The Motorola H17txt bluetooth earpiece looks like many others-- it hooks onto your ear with a relatively small form factor, and has a little boom that opens outwards from being folded in, which effectively turns the device on and off. It's lightweight and pretty comfortable, in so far as when you have it in your ear, its easy to forget about it and leave it in as you exit your car (and thereby expose yourself to the people on the street as a potential "tool-with-headset-but-not-in-car"). One very special feature, however, makes this headset pretty unique-- it has the ability to read out incoming texts to you, and when programmed correctly, respond to senders with an auto-reply that lets them know (via text) that you're driving but will get back to them when you finish. The headset has MotoSpeak, what Motorola calls its text-to-speech technology. Once you install a free Motorola app to your Blackberry or Android phone (boo, no iPhone), the device will read text messages to you so you never have to take your eyes off the road. Interestingly, the headset is smart enough to read out acronyms like "lol" and "l8r" as actual words, and the feminine voice is pre-programmed to understand 150 of these popular abbreviated messages. In testing, I heard it say "Oh My God" for "OMG" and in hindsight, totally should have tried ROTFLMAO to see if that would work... It also reads out incoming texter ID, plus it comes with a list of autoresponse messages.
Even if you don't sync the little device with your Blackberry or Android phone, the headset works wonderfully as a hands-free device, which is what I used it as with my iPhone for a couple of weeks. The voice of the "operator" is smooth and non-robotic, and she'll tell you when the phone is on or off, what your battery life is, and when a phone call is coming in. Unless you have the app installed, the headset will not read any caller ID information, which was not as cool for me because I found myself still reaching for my phone to try and find out who was calling when the headset beeped into my ear and said "Phone call on line 1."
I enjoyed my time with the H17txt-- if anything, testing the unit has convinced me of the utility of having a handfree device in the car while driving (as I otherwise just never answered the phone, letting calls go to voicemail.) For $99, I think the price is a good fit for ALL of the functionality, so Android and Blackberry users should definitely consider buying one of these puppies to pair on their phones. However, iPhone and other smart or feature phone users who want their headset to read texts to them need to wait for an upgrade or another headset to come to market, as this one won't work for you in that way. For me, then, ultimately $99 is too much to spend on just the bluetooth headset without the text feature. Motospeak engineers-- bring an app to the iPhone!