Is it just us or does everyone prefer headphones that are inconspicuous and not screaming advertisements for the brands that manufacture them? With a design that looks like a Siamese tadpole, Motorola's S9 headset is very nearly what we want a Bluetooth headset to look like: invisible.
When worn correctly the S9 headphones hook over your ears, but for some reason everyone here who tried them on started by wearing them upside down. The hooks over the ears appear to hold the headphones in place but the only function they seem to serve to push your ears out at an embarrassing -- almost Adam Gilchrist-style -- angle. The real stability comes from the pincher action between the ear plugs, and while this would work great for keeping the S9 secure when you're jogging or kickboxing, it's not so comfortable for wearing with glasses in front of the computer in the office.
The power and Bluetooth pairing buttons are at the back of the headset. Next to each of the earbuds are buttons as well; volume control on the left and playlist navigation on the right. We liked that these buttons aren't actually buttons that depress when used, but more touchpads, meaning you don't have to push too hard against your delicate temple to operate these functions.
Motorola is selling the S9 bundled with the D650 Bluetooth iPod adaptor so we thought it best to test them together. Pairing was easy enough; plug in the D650, turn on the S9, make sure the iPod is playing music and wait for a connection. We didn't hear music straight away, pairing took a few moments and then the audio stutters before settling and streaming clearly.
Audio-wise the S9 is fairly good, however bass is weak to non-existent, thereby emphasising the mid- and high-level tones which are too sharp and are on the harsh side of being pleasant. So while it's no audiophile's dream, it's certainly a league or two better than the stock earbuds that Steve ships with his iPods. It's a shame then that sticking a pair of baby porcupines in your ears is, probably, more comfortable than wearing the S9.
The S9 is definitely a viable alternative to wired stereo headphones, and would be especially useful when exercising. But at AU$149 is the freedom of going wireless worth the premium pricing? That kind of money could buy some excellent wired headphones, and comparable quality headphones can be bought for half the price. If the answer for you is yes then the S9 should suit your purposes.