Though we've reviewed cell phone speakers from Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and LG, this is the first time a speaker from Motorola has arrived in our labs. Moto is pushing its EQ5 portable wireless speaker as the perfect accessory for T-Mobile's Motorola's Rokr E8. In many ways the two devices are well matched. Like the E8, the EQ5 has a sleek, attractive design with innovative features. Performance was about the same as well, though the EQ5's audio could be a bit sharper. The EQ5 is $119.
It's easy to see why Moto is pairing the EQ5 with the E8. Both have a slim, glossy design with a lot of black and touches of silver. What's more, at 4.6 inches by 2.55 inches by 0.59 inch and 3.52 ounces, the EQ5 is almost the same size as its cousin and enjoys an equally solid feel in the hand. We like the spiffy look and adore the kickstand that lets you prop up the EQ5 horizontally on a table.
The EQ5's speakers sit on either side of the main control panel. There you will find the volume button and the player control keys. The latter set of controls lets you manipulate the music player of any Bluetooth-enabled music player that supports remote control capabilities. That's a nifty and useful feature and one that we don't see on many cell phone speakers. All of the controls are large and though they're flush, they're also tactile and easy to use. The power switch sits on the bottom end of the speakers, while the Talk control sits on the top. On the left side is the micro USB charger port, while the 3.5mm headset jack sits on the right spine.
Besides listening to music, the EQ5 also works as a speakerphone for making calls. You can accept incoming calls simply by pressing the Talk button, so there's no need to touch your phone at all. You also can reject calls right on the speakerphone. The EQ5 won't show any kind of caller ID but you can make calls with the speakers by using voice dialing. Of course, your phone will need to support voice dialing and commands for this to work properly.
We paired the EQ5 with our Rokr E8. The EQ5 goes into pairing mode immediately when you turn it on, so it took just a minute to connect the two devices. A tiny LED between the two volume controls indicates the phone's status. The connection resumed automatically after we turned off the devices for a short period.
Music on the EQ5 speakers sounded good, though it was a few points short of excellent. The volume output wasn't very loud, even if it was turned all the way up. What's more, the music was the slightest bit tinny. It wasn't horrible by any means, but it wasn't quite as good as we hoped. We paired successfully with the Samsung Instinct as well and experienced similar audio quality. We could not pair the EQ5 with the Samsung Soul.
We also connected to the speakers to a Creative Zen Vision: M using a standard audio cable with 3.5mm connectors (you'll have to supply your own cable). Audio quality was a bit improved, though not by much. The EQ5 does offer noise reduction and echo cancellation, but we didn't detect a difference in most cases.
Call quality with the Rokr E8 was satisfying. Our friend's voices sounded natural and we didn't encounter any static or interference with the speaker. On our end the volume remained a bit low, just as it did when listening to music, but it was only an issue when we were using the phone in a noisy area. Callers said they had trouble hearing us at times, but it wasn't consistent. On the other hand, we had to speak quite loudly if we wanted the EQ5 to register our voice commands. That, coupled with a slight lag in the phone registering our commands, made for a sometimes frustrating experience. When a call comes in while you're listening to music, the player will pause automatically. Your song will then resume at the same point when you hang up.
The EQ5 has a rated battery life of up to 8 hours.