Though the Aliph Jawbone is so named for the voice activity sensor that touches the side of the face, it is not actually a bone-conduction headset. The sensor on the Jawbone is just there to detect your voice and help separate it from the surrounding noise. Few headsets can truly claim bone conduction, a technology that promises to translate the vibration of the jaw into speech. In fact, we've never really seen one before until CES 2008, where we took a look at Nextlink's Invisio Q7. Invisio claims to have tested its bone-conduction headset with the military, and indeed, we were so impressed with it that we nominated it for the Best of CES that year. Unfortunately, we haven't heard a thing about Invisio since then, which led us to believe it was vaporware.
Enter Motorola. There were rumors last year that the handset manufacturer was partnering up with Nextlink to develop with a Motorola-branded version of the Invisio Q7. It now appears that the rumors are true, because Motorola have recently announced the Motorola Endeavor HX1, which claims to be the first genuine bone-conduction headset in the U.S. market. Motorola calls this bone-conduction technology "stealth mode," and combines it with Motorola's own CrystalTalk noise-canceling technology to produce really top-quality noise reduction. The idea is that you would use regular CrystalTalk for normal everyday use, and then for extremely noisy or windy situations, you can engage "stealth mode" to take advantage of the bone conduction.
We're incredibly impressed with the bone-conduction technology on the Endeavor HX1. It definitely delivers when it comes to completely blocking outside noise and still being able to transmit our voice. It's not perfect, but combined with CrystalTalk, voice prompts, and multipoint support, the Endeavor HX1 definitely earns a top spot in our list of headsets. Final pricing is yet to be announced, and the HX1 is slated to come out in late 2009.
The Motorola Endeavor HX1 has a very business-like design, with black and silver tones all around. Measuring 1.85 inches long by 0.71 inch wide by 0.47 inch thick, the HX1 is rectangular and a bit blocky, and looks very much like a traditional Bluetooth headset.
The front surface is divided into three black areas separated by two silver lines. The topmost section with the phone icon is the multifunction call button. It's easy to press, even when the headset is worn on the ear. Underneath that is a slim silver grille, which is the external microphone. This is used to pick up ambient noise so that CrystalTalk can separate the user's voice from the background. The second silver line is the "stealth mode" button that activates or deactivates the bone conduction.
On the right side of the headset are a volume rocker and a sliding power switch. The rocker is raised above the surface and has bumps indicating the volume increase and decrease directions, which makes it that much easier to use. We also like the sliding power switch that makes it easier to turn the headset on and off--most headsets require you to hold down the call button for a few seconds instead.
Flip the headset around and you'll find a rather large protruding earpiece that is designed to fit snugly in the ear. Covering it is a rubber ear bud with an attached loop, which is made to nestle inside the openings of the ear and ensure the correct placement of the headset. The HX1 comes with two different ear loop fittings plus two additional ear fittings that have a unique "soft spring" curve instead of a loop. We found the ear fittings with the "soft spring" curve much more comfortable and secure than the ones with the loop. Also, we were a bit uncomfortable with how deep the HX1 felt in our ear at first, but we soon got used to it.
We felt the earpiece fit quite securely when placed in the ear, but if you want additional security, you can also use the optional ear hook. The hook is thin, flexible, and can rotate to fit either the left or right ear.