Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

BT Interphone review..2500 kms later

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by Rabbito, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. I purchased two of these units online from Third Gear in late January. I tips me hat to Adrian at Third Gear for his open communication and speedy service and extra thanks for quick replacement of an AC power charging unit that failed. The unit on my lid has seen almost daily service over the last month. By chance the units arrived on the day of my bikes 12000km service. A quick glance at the odo shows 2484 kms travelled since then.
    I could have saved 20 bucks by buying off Fleabay from China...but Third gear offers 12 months warranty and being an Aussie store a few suburbs away ...it was a no-brainer to buy local.

    A quick read of the Chinglish booklet showed the units function bike to bike, rider to pillion and have the ability to send music or directions into your headset from your phone, MP3 player or GPS.
    Most of my use has been streaming music from my phone as well as taking calls on the fly and occasional pillion intercom duties. The book says 7 hours stand by and 4 hours of talk time. Most of my use has been around two hours at a time. You should get a full day’s use on a single charge.
    The unit clips onto the helmet using a small hard plastic bracket that slips between the shell and the liner; there is a lug on the rear of the unit that slots into the bracket, very simple yet sturdy.

    The head set consists of two ear phones and a boom mike that extends from the left speaker. Placement is taken care of by 3M adhesive Velcro. If you have a helmet with removable liners it’s a good idea to thread the mike under the cheek pad...otherwise after a long ride you get a line on your face from the boom. Installation is a snap and it’s easy to hide the wiring under the liner.
    I found it handy to add a small strip of Velcro to the inside of the chin bar to hold the mike in front of my lips. You can get by without doing so, but you do run the risk of the mike making its way up your left nostril when you put on your helmet.
    Operation is easy. Charge the units up by USB cable or mains power, the book says 3-6 hours but the charge lights went out in about an hour and a half.
    To switch on, just hold the rear-most button and the familiar blue flashing led shows the unit operating after a few seconds, keep holding the same button and the light flashes blue and red to indicate it’s ready for pairing. Enable Bluetooth on your phone and search for device. It will display on your phone as ‘motorphone’, accept the connection and you’re done. The book says you can pair up to three units.

    I have noticed that some overhead power lines make a buzz as you pass under them and that while I’m in the shed getting ready to go there is some static. On standby you can hear a faint buzz that is in synch with the led...like a pulse. Once music is playing, or you are speaking it’s crystal clear.
    A tap on the rear button opens comms to your pillion, either of you can open and close the link and the unit will return to whatever it was doing last...like playing music. There are a few seconds of delay as the unit switches from pumping tunes to chatting and vice versa.

    The volume is taken care of by two buttons at the top and bottom of the unit… opposite to intuition, the lower button increases volume.
    And no, there’s no problem finding the appropriate buttons in motorcycle gloves. After a few hours of riding with the unit it becomes automatic.
    Incoming calls are answered automatically, the music or GPS stops and hearing a rising chime is the time to turn the volume down. Phone calls are louder than music, not that it’s a bad thing but the first occasion is a surprise. The caller can sometimes hear that you are outside but has no idea that you are on the bike; the noise filtering is outstanding. Even riding at 80 with the visor up was perfectly clear. Calls can be rejected by pressing the forward button and if your phone supports last number redial, you can do that by pressing the same button.
    Voice is clear and easy up to 110kph, depending on your helmet and bike. The music is not Bose quality but is not so tinny that it’s offensive...listenable but it could be better with more bass.

    The units are not fully water proof,despite some sites claiming that they are. A bit of light rain is fine, but they are not downpour proof. I carry a freezer bag or three for items that must be kept dry if the weather looks a bit ‘how ya goin’. It’s easy enough to wrap a baggie over the unit and carry on riding and it works fine.

    I did get caught out; the rain just got heavier and heavier and I switched the unit off after about 20 minutes of drenching. When I got home the red charge light was on and I thought that I had fried the unit. I couldn’t get it to switch on or off...the lil red led was just glowing. I let it dry out and the next day after exposure to full sun for a few hours the unit was working as fine. I got lucky I think.

    I am amazed by how much power they don’t use when just pumping music to my head. Two hours of use and the units still only take 30 minutes to top up to full charge.
    For the money and my usage they are impressive little units.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Thanks for the review
  3. Nice work Rabs.
  4. Nice review, honestly I forgot I had a pair of these, I brought a pair of the units of Ebay for $90, the item didn't come for about 44 days and I asked for a refund (45 day limit), he gave the refund and about a month later I see a package at the door, open it up and it's the interphones.

    I haven't tried them out yet as my mate dropped his bike, will give them a go with the music and see the quality.
  5. Thanks for the detailed review mate......might have to grab a set....

  6. Thanks for the review. Have been looking at these for a while on fleabay.
  7. Can I ask what mod number you have ?? They have about 6 different types on there website . Good review thanks for taking the time :)
  8. Thanks appreciated :)
  9. Thanks for the review Rabbito! I've ordered a set and will give them a test in the next couple of weekends.

    Then I would be very keen to do MV's mod of adding headphones instead of the speakers as I like the noise cancellation of the canalphones.
  10. I too have used a pair of these, and im sorry to say they are woeful.
    Barely worked the first time just between my old boy and i, as stated up to 110ish before sound broke up, and worked for the distance stated. About the only positive i can really say about it is the DSP works very well to filter out wind noise. Good thing it has that as otherwise you wouldnt be able to get any message across due to the STATIC!

    Neither ever worked as a BT interphone again after that first try. Would 'connect' when you press the button, and both ends would start making lots of deafeningly loud static noise. Nothing we did to either unit made it ever do anything other then be a static producing machine.

    After i gave up on trying to talk to the old boy while we were on our bikes, i decided to test both units to see if one would work with my phone as a headset - thought perhaps they could redeem themselves if i could answer a call while riding. Sure, both connected and was recognised as a BT headset by: a nokia 6110, a htc touch pro 2, iPhone 4 or with a htc desire hd. Sorry to say though... Static static static static static............

    Yes, static. For both units in my pair it was a constant loud buzz that the volume control did nothing to stop. You could have the volume all the way off and still be deafened by it. One must consider that the volume control is also software and not hardware... so any noise that happens outside of a 'call' you cant control. Its loudest for me when you first turn them on too...

    Maybe i just got a dodgy set? No idea. They are cheap, and i definitely got what i paid for considering a higher end brand is like $400 per unit. Probably a reason for that :D.

    I do plan on getting one of the $400 sets one day and seeing if indeed you get a better unit, or whether everything BT is interfered with that badly... But, next bike first ;).

    edit: @cardboardtenant - I recommend you do NOT use this interphone with an in ear speaker, as you are just asking for trouble with how much noise it makes. Please at the very least make sure you arent going to deafen yourself with them as it truly is loud...

    edit 2: I tried them in several locations too, just in case something in my house was interfering specifically... nup no good anywhere i went.
  11. Bugger. Wish I had seen this befoe purchasing which would have weighted the price a bit more. I will try mine out and see if I have any better luck. Obviously if I have issues I won't be too keen on just letting them rot in the cupboard.

    More news to follow after this short break.
  12. Yeah I noticed they had 2 listings of the same unit however one had the range of 700m and one with 500m. Looks like the 700m might be a fudge as the ft gives it away haha!
  13. :popcorn::popcorn: Just waiting for another review to balance this out . we have one big positive and one big negative .
    bit like the State of Origin really 8-[
  14. Oh im sure they are a good unit when they work as described :).
    When they dont though... eurgh noise and loud noise at that.
    If at least one had worked with any of those phones as described, id have been satisfied with that.
  15. I've used these for a while. now. I can't say I've had problems with noise, but maybe that's because I am not especially critical. They CAN be LOUD, but that's adjustable.
    I tend to use them for nav (via phone) and for that they've been mostly fine. When the battery gets low the bluetooth tends to drop out before the unit actually shuts down. Get 2 - 3 hours constant use on a charge (had up to 5 once).
    Couple of times I've managed to pair the BT with a mate's Nolan helmet system and that worked okay but did drop out a couple of times (reconnected by itself at least once).
    (Haven't actually used as a pair as intended.)

    Also had them 'freeze' once or twice (blue led goes from blinking to solid, cannot shut down or do anything). Eventually I remembered the reset control and that got it to shut down. Restarted all ok.

    Pairs with phone OK, but for reasons probably more to do with the phone, it doesn't 'ring' through the speakers before going 'live to air'. Scared the crap outa me a coupla times :shock:
  16. Rusti_GotRage mentioned that he got his through www.dealsextreme.com for about $40 and that he had good results talking on the phone clearly.

    I checked it out and mentioned it to LizzyM who ended up buying one. There seemd to be a few different models which had marginally different specs for performance so we lashed out and got the $50 one which suggested a slightly higher (500m rather than 300m bike to bike range). The reason I didn't get one was that I have had trouble in the past with in helmet speakers and haven't been able to get enough volume out ot the speakers to allow me to hear above wind noise. I am short and my head height seems to be just in the wrong position for wind noise on both my bikes. Liz already uses in helmet speakers attached to her iPod but hwen I tried it it simply didn't work for me.

    However when Liz's interphone unit arrived it seemed to have a lot more volume so I thought I would try it out on my noisier bike and with my noisier helmet (RJ Touratek flip face), so I did the only reasonable thing and stole it. I also stole Liz's mobile phone, since she has music on it and there was none on mine.

    The instruction booklet with the unit is not as clear as it could be and sometimes the Chinglish is amusing. It seemed to take quite a while for the bluetooth to initialy pair up to the phone. Supposedly once paired if you turned the unit off, next time you turned it on it would pair immediately with the phone. This seemd to work some of the time but sometimes it didn't and you need to redo an intial pairing, again taking two minutes or so.

    Paired to the phone and with the phone being used as an MP3 player I took off down the driveway with music in my helmet. It seemed to be working OK but how would it go at highway speeds? Immediately I turned out of the driveway I lost music. My immediate thought was that that the cheap units were too good to be true until I suddenty realised that I had left the phone it was paired to on the coffee table. With the phone in my pocket I took off again and could hear music at respectable volume at highway speeds.

    We live about 5 mins from a freeway so I had instructed Liz to ring me 10 mins after I had left. With the unit paired to the phone what is meant to happen when you get an incoming call is that the music fads down and the phone answers automatically. ( You can reject the call if you wish by pressing the button on the unit) . Sure enough ten minutes out, I received a warning tone from the unit, the music faded and I was talking to Liz. Liz reported no appreciable wind noise from the unit at 100kph and when I opened the vizor to see if that made a difference , she reported that she could hear some wind but that I was still coming through loud and clear. If I had not been a respectable Netrider I may have been tempted to try the unit out at higher than legal speeds. Naturally I didn't do this but if I had I may have been able to report that the unit was still delivering a clear two way phone conversation at $1.50.

    The next week I stole ...er borrowed ... the unit again and took it to Saturday practice where Rusti and I tried to pair our .. er Lizzy's and his ... units as bike to bike intercoms. Again it seemd to take a while for the units to pair up but all of a sudden I had Rusti's voice booming in my ear "Can you Hear me? Can you hear me?" As I had just put the helmet on to try out I wasn't wearing plugs and I was screaming back at him to shut up before he blew out my ear drums.

    I put in my plugs, and we then both took off around the car park and could communicate quite clearly. We decided to do a road test and found that the units worked well over about 300,m or so, although at one point when a 4WD got between us reception became a bit crackly. I tried to get Rusti to park while I took off to try to see how far we got before we lost reception but unfortunately the road curved and the presenxce of parked vehicles meant we lost line of sight and reception well before we should have. When Rusti finally trundled up behind me we had to force the units to pair up again. Although we were in suburban traffic and range wasn't that high I suspect it would be adequate for either bike to bike mentoring where the mentor sits relatively closer behind the noob or in twisties where there is unlikely to be traffic getting between the bikes. This time we lost reception when I filtered ahead of Rusti and past a tall moving van. However unlike the previous time, when Rusti caught up at a red light the unit repaired automatically and we regained communication.

    I have yet to try the unit as bike to pillion but given it works bike to bike I have no reason to believe it wouldn't be adequate.

    In the end based on the performance, I bought my own unit and also bought a blue tooth audio dongle to pug into my iPod so i can listen to the iPod.

    Unfortunately since I have been busy lately I haven't done any long rides so cannot comment on battery life, but the specs claim about 7 hours. I am also not sure if you can listen to music and swap to intercom phone which would be handy for when I am riding with Liz. I f I can work out how to do this I will add a post.

    So all in all I am happy with my unit and at $50 think it reresents good value.

    Two final things. I bought the unit via dealsextreme.com. While happy that everything arrived as described it took about four weeks to arrive. Liz's unit also took a while although not that long; and Rusti had a fight with them as he paid extra for express post and they still took quite a while to ship it.

    Although I haven't got around to trying the unit on a in my quieter helmet (Shoei XR 1100), just wearing it in the lounge room it seemed to be not as loud. I think the difference is that with the Shoei the speakers sit a bit behind the padding and with its tighter cheek pads the speakers are muffkled more than in the RJ helmet. This is a helmet issue though, not an issue with the unit and one I suspect I will fix with a bit of trial and error. Unfortunately to date I have not had the time.
  17. Maybe they just sent me two units that were dodgy hoping id go away :p...
    Will have faith and try a different brand at some point when i get a bike again real soon :).
  18. I bought a pair off eBay about 12 months ago - worked OK for just me around town at 60kmh - speakers are crappy. I broke one of the helmet mounts so when I started pillioning my wife I bought another set. We had alot of interference. My original unit refused to recharge after 12months so I swapped to one of my 'spares'. I bought a good pair of helmet speakers from the USA and replaced the original cheap speakers. I also re-soldered all the joints. Since then I'm able to chat with my wife at 100kmh. No more interference and speech is now clear (better bass response). The BT interphone is cheap and cheerful. You get what you paid for.