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Motorola HS850 Bluetooth Headset review: Motorola HS850 Bluetooth Headset

Motorola HS850 Bluetooth Headset

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read
Sometimes in the technology world, things don't change all that much. And in some cases, that can be a good thing. If you have an admirable product, why mess with it? Take the Motorola HS850, for example. Building on the success of the HS8910, the HS850 offers a worthy combination of design and performance. This is one Bluetooth headset we don't mind using. At $99, though, it's somewhat overpriced, so be sure to give it a test run first.
Since we approve of the look and feel of the Motorola HS8910, we're pleased to see that the newer model seems about the same. A pleasant oval shape means there are no sharp angles and corners, and we like the large, blue LED light that indicates the headset's status. All those features, along with a two-tone gray hue, make for a stylish headset. In fact, you may feel comfortable wearing it on the street. And at 1.96 by 1.18 by 0.78 inches and 0.7 ounc, it can slip easily into a pocket. Alternately, you can loop it onto a lanyard for wearing around your neck.
Like its predecessor, the HS850 has a nifty foldable boom that not only makes the headset more compact when not in use but also acts as a power switch. The ear loop is highly flexible and can be switched easily for wearing on either ear. Without a protruding earpiece, we had no problem slipping it on and off, and the headset sat comfortably on our ear. Our only real complaint was that because the headset is so light, it felt somewhat loose. In fact, if we moved our head quickly from side to side, the boom mike banged against our cheek. Like with the HS8910, we would have preferred a more snug fit.
We also didn't quite care for the headset's controls. We had trouble finding the thin volume buttons when wearing the HS850, but once we located them, they were easy to manipulate. We had the opposite problem with the multifunction button, however. Besides placing calls (via voice dialing) and terminating them, it also redials the last called number when held down. It was easy to find due to its large size, but we had to press very hard to get it to do anything.
We paired the HS850 with the Motorola Razr V3. The process took just a few seconds, and we were up and running. Call quality was good on our end, with clear sound and adequate volume. On their end, callers said we sounded a bit metallic, but they were satisfied overall. Sound quality diminished in windy environments, but that often goes along with using a Bluetooth headset. Though made by Motorola, the HS850 can be used with other Bluetooth 1.2-enabled phones, and it is also backward compatible with Bluetooth 1.1 devices. The headset has a rated talk time of 8 hours and a promised standby time of 8.3 days (an improvement over the HS8910). In our standby tests, however, we got only half that time on a single charge.