Moto Hint, a $150 in-ear wearable, hopes to make earpieces sexy (hands-on)

Totally hands-free communication with your Moto X, or one-touch with any other phone. Is the Moto Hint a hint of earbuds to come?

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read

Motorola's newest wearable isn't a watch: it goes in your ear.

Sure, it's a headset. But the Moto Hint, a $150 (converted to £90) Bluetooth earpiece designed to be a touchless, always-on way to connect to your mobile life, certainly has designs to be something more. It's almost impossible not to think of the Spike Jonze movie "Her," where everyone in future Los Angeles wears something very similar to the discreet earbud of the Hint.

Mark Licea, our ear model, tries on the Hint. Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola, of course, was working on the Hint well before the Spike Jonze movie. And Motorola has wireless headset experience extending back many years. The Hint's most distinguishing feature is it automatically connects when put in your ear thanks to IR sensors, and turns off when taken out. Calls that come in when the Hint isn't in your ear automatically go to your phone instead of the earbud.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are no physical buttons on the Hint, either: the front panel uses capacitive touch. The Moto Hint works with any Bluetooth-enabled phone to make calls, or to connect to services like Google Now and Siri: tap, and then you can speak. If you own a Moto X, the Hint has the added capability of fully hands-free interaction using Moto Voice, making it feel even more you're speaking with the OS in "Her."

The Hint fit somewhat comfortably if loosely in my ear during a very brief ears-on I had with it. Would it stay in and feel reliable as an everyday earpiece? Motorola proudly said the company scanned hundreds of ears to make sure the Hint would fit perfectly. Four gel attachments will be included to help make sure it does.

Sarah Tew/CNET

An included carrying case doubles as a battery charger. The Hint gets a little under 3.5 hours on a single charge, but the charger helps you top off a few more times to get 10 hours of use. There are several designs to choose from: the Hint's front has a textured fabric that's matched on the outer charge case it comes in, for a little extra personality.

Do you need a new Bluetooth earpiece? And can Motorola make earpieces sexy? We'll have to see when it becomes available later this fall in the US and UK.