Editors' note: The Motorola H17txt is a re-release of the previously reviewed Motorola H17 Bluetooth headset with the addition of compatibility with the MotoSpeak app for Android and BlackBerry. Accordingly, we've reproduced the H17 review here with a new section dedicated to the new functionality.
Motorola continues its trend of making tiny Bluetooth headsets with the Motorola H17txt. As a successor to the H15 and the H12, Motorola touts the H17txt as one if its smallest headsets yet. The reason it can be so small is because it has a flip-switch boom mic that can be folded into a more compact shape when not in use. The H17txt boasts Motorola's CrystalTalk noise-canceling technology as well as voice prompts that let you know if the call is muted or if the battery is low. The H17txt is overall a decent headset with a number of cool features, and it's available for $99.99.
The Motorola H17txt's most obvious new feature over the previously released H17 is its compatibility with Motorola's new MotoSpeak application for Android and BlackBerry devices. However, this is hardly what we'd call a "new" feature, as we were able to successfully test the Android version of the app with the H17txt and the Motorola Rokr S7-HD stereo headset, which is an almost two-year-old device.
Based on a version of the cross-platform Drivesafe.ly app, MotoSpeak will read incoming text messages aloud over Bluetooth A2DP so that users don't miss a critical message while they're behind the wheel. The app is able to interpret and translate about 150 commonly used acronyms, such as LOL (laughing out loud), brb (be right back), gtg (got to go), and l8r (later). To reduce the temptation to grab the phone and respond to those incoming messages, the app also features a user customizable autoresponder that lets everyone know that you're not in a position to reply immediately.
However, there are a few limitations. The free version of the app only reads the first 25 words of the incoming message aloud, after which it will abruptly stop. This isn't too much of an issue if your messages are typically short. Those of us with verbose friends found that the app's stopping midsentence actually left us more tempted to grab the handset and read the rest of the message than had we not heard the beginning.
To have more than 25 words read aloud, users must purchase a Pro version of the app, which unlocks options for 50, 100, 250, and 500 words. The Pro version also unlocks the choice between male and female text-to-speech voices with the ability to autoselect based on the gender of the sender, options for how quickly messages are read, and enables the application to also read aloud incoming e-mails. However, rather than simply being a one-time purchase, the premium version must be subscribed to for an annual fee of $13.95.
The Motorola H17txt is indeed one of the smallest headsets we've tried. It measures 1.65 inches long by 0.67 inch wide by 0.39 inch thick, and it has an oval shape that is slim, small, and very lightweight. On the front of it is a large oval multifunction call button, which is easy enough to press, even when the headset is worn on the ear. On the right spine is a very skinny volume rocker with an LED indicator in the middle of it. Though it is raised above the surface, we did find the rocker a bit too skinny for our tastes. The charger jack is on top of the headset.