Headphones model:Motorola HT820 (tested with model D)Gear4 BluPhones Cellink BTST-9000-DPlantronics Pulsar 590Plantronics Voyager 855
Price, US (Pricegrabber)$35No hitsNo hits, not even in the homepage of the manufacturer; seems to be discontinued, also according to NewEgg A from $105, E from $58.$67
Price, Euro / pounds (amazon.de / uk)50e63,97e / 49 pounds regular price; Amazon rebated it once for 11 poundsNo hits. Some other shops keep it for about 30 euros (incl. VAT)A from 93e, E from 50e.82.90e
Physical construction: form factorsupra-aural between supra-aural and earbudsupra-aural supra-aural Canalphones (in-ear monitors); note that some people had better luck with the black dense foam tips included in the package. They may provide a much better seal and deeper base than the silicone tips
Cabling behind-the-neckbehind-the-neck behind-the-neck over-the-headcable
Housingclosed openopen (in practice because of the bad fitting)openclosed (Canalphones)
Battery: Recharge~3:10 (officially: 2 hrs)~1:40; 1:42Somewhere between 2:00 and 2:363:09 (officially: 2hrs)<2:20; 2:16 (officially: 3 hrs)
Playback time18:10 (!!) (officially: 14 hrs)4:44; <4:49; 4:18 (officially: 5 hrs)Under 7:08; officially: 6:3011:25 (officially: 10 hrs)6:16; 5:16; 5:42 (officially: up to 6 hrs)
OS compliance: Windows Mobile / MS BT stack pre-WM6+++ (no reconnection)++
Windows Mobile / MS BT stack WM6+++ (no reconnection)++
Windows Mobile / Widcomm BT stack++- (Useless: suffers from the same problem as with Symbian. When it does play back something, it's of really low quality, using the lowest possible bit rate)++
Symbian S60+ (absolutely no AVRCP problems – excellent!)+- (you must manually connect to the headphones [NOT using the start/stop button] so that it works and should never ever touch any of the control buttons. If you do this, the sound transmission terminates until you manually [and awkwardly] reconnect the two devices. That is, AVRCP is completely out of question.)+ (non-full AVRCP: Everything works except resuming songs)+ (non-full AVRCP: Everything works except skipping to next song; skipping to previous takes much more time than on the other (compatible) headphones)
BlackBerry 8800 OS 4.5.0.9+++ ++
Physical dimensions etc. Weight9628699213
Charger weight67 (wall mini USB)22 (USB cable!)n/t84 (wall)63 (wall)
Size on head; is it easy to notice? Does it protrude (see “Princess Leia” effect)Protruding a lot, very easy to noticeSmall and not very easy to notice – excellent!Protruding a lot, very easy to noticeNot very bad – much better than Cellink / HT820Really discrete and hard-to-notice
Does it fit OK on / in the ears?PerfectlyNope, not always – this means somewhat less bass and worse stereoNot the most ideal either – it seems to “open” forward, also making the headphones much more protruding than even the 590PerfectlyPerfectly
Transportability (size when collapsed)Average (only fits in the largest shirt pockets, unlike most of the alternatives)Excellent (very small, easily fits in even small shirt pockets); no pouch or any kind of case is provided (not that it'd be needed)Good when collapsed; pouch in standard packageGood, much better (shirt) pocketable than the HT820 (but, of course, much worse than the Gear4 phones or the Voyager 855). It comes with a hard (pretty huge and hard to carry in a pocket, as opposed to the collapsed headphones) case in the standard packageGood (no pouch / case though; it’d be certainly welcome as it seems to be pretty fragile)
Frequency rangeExcellent – rich lows and highs; in the latter, even better than the Pulsar 590 GoodGoodExcellent. While, by default, it a little too much emphasizes basses and is particularly weak at high frequencies, with an equalizer (with a (very) strong gain increase in the highs) to emphasize the latter is perfectly OKExcellent when tightly fit (but, of corse, not otherwise) - much better than even the 2nd gen Zune, let alone the N95 factory headphones. (Of course, the latter are plain earbuds, not canalphones; this is why they can't match the frequency response - particularly the basses - of the Voyager 855.)
Auto-reconnection after power cycle?+Symbian: + (needs a MF button press); Windows Mobile: - (none of the tested devices)BB: + but needs a manual playback start/stop in the player; WM5: +; WM6: - (VERY bad!)+ on everything+ on everything
NoiseNot very hearableVery annoying because it’s less of a white and more of discrete noise, particularly in the right headphone. MUST make sure the phone is always at 100% volume to mitigate its effects but, even then, listening to quiet music can be a more annoying experience than with all the other headphones.Hearable; not as bad as on Gear4Hearable, but, mostly because of the, with frequency, radically declining frequency response, is in no way annoying.Somewhat worse than with the 590 but still way better than with the Gear4
Comfort (1...5/5)1/5 (considerably worse than the 590, can be really tiring to wear; also, the ears' stuffing and getting hot can be a problem, especially in a hot day. This isn't an issue with any of the alternative headphones.)5/52/5 (the headband likes collapsing while in use; other, major construction problems: it doesn't fit the ear)5/5 (excellent, no problems even after hours of using)5/5 if you are used to in-ear monitors; 1/5 if you hate them
Unwanted emissionPretty low when it perfectly sits on ears and, therefore, blocks the sound out; high otherwiseAcceptable (somewhat higher than with the Pulsars)Next to unacceptable (much higher than even that of Gear4). As it’s an open model (unlike the HT820), the emission doesn’t depend on how the phones sit on the ears.Pretty goodAlmost nothing - in this respect, far better than the Zune earbuds
External noise filtering / dampening3/51/51/51/55/5 (Canalphones are excellent at filtering out noise)
Max. volume levelDefinitely lower than with Cellink / 590; still much higher than with BluPhones. Just acceptable outdoors for podcasts.Not very high – you’ll have MAJOR problems listening to, for example, voice podcasts outdoors. Listening to music is much better.OKOKNot as loud as most of the phones but this isn't that big a problem as it also filters out external noise / sounds; consequently, there isn't that much need for a really high max. volume
Sensitivity to radically changing environment, reflection, fading while walking (pedestrian usage)-+ (very bad – in my tests with the N95 and iPAQ 210, it turned out to be absolutely useless outdoors - strictly in pedestrian use! In-vehicle use is OK - because of the distortions, skipping, stuttering – even with the phone / PDA held in my shirt pockets, very close to the headphones!) The situation is pretty much the same as is described HERE and HERE with the Moto S9; the latter, based on the user reports, seems to be VERY sensitive to fading, multipath and other "pedestrian" interference.--- in my measurements; another user, on the other hand, reported pedestrian dropouts
DurabilityPretty durable (albeit I think the Gear4 BluPhones have better and even more durable construction); no reports of the headband breakingNo joints; seems to be pretty durable (at least more durable than the Cellink headphones)Joints: don’t know how long it’ll last. Seems to be of much higher quality than, say, that of the TH-55 headphones, though.Really durable – have been using it for over 20 months w/o problemsSeems to be durable
Dual mode with two devices connected? (Tested in practice!)+, works flawlessly+, works flawlessly+, works flawlessly+, works flawlessly+, works flawlessly
ChargingStandard Mini USB – great! It does not only let for using any USB chargers, but also allows for firmware updates. See for example THIS, THIS and THIS.Proprietary USB charger with cinch; this means it might be far easier to get a third-party charger for itProprietary wall charger with cinch; this means it might be far easier to get a third-party charger for itProprietary AC charger (with the 590A, also USB charger)Proprietary AC charger (I don’t think it’s microUSB)
Donglen/t. The DC800 Transreceiver isn’t part of the standard package - must be purchased separately (or in a bundle). It is huge and can't be used with mobile sources.n/aReally tiny. As with the 590A, the charger is able to recharge both the dongle and the headphones at the same time. No discernable lip desync, as opposed to the 590 - very good!Somewhat larger than that of Cellink. It's still pretty small, though, and can easily be used with non-A2DP-enabled mobile sources. Sound is in about 0.5 sec late - useless for watching videosn/a
Disturbing LED during use?-: There are pretty bright LEDs on both sides of the head. They, fortunately, gradually light up and down – that is, they are much less annoying than the LEDs of the 590. Fortunately, it can be completely disabled (and, then, re-enabled) by simultaneously pressing the previous/next hardware buttons.-: while there’s feedback (two microLEDs blinking), it’s in no way disturbing or noticeable from a distanceLED blinks but far friendlier than that of the 590. It can't be dimmed.Very bad and very strong; can’t do anything to it except for using black markers-, absolutely no visual feedback during playback
RangeOKMUCH worse than with the other models. Indoors, it’s not that big a problem (unless you go to another room); outdoors, while walking, it may be one of the factors contributing to the pretty bad interference and skipping. In a vehicle, it works without problems – it’s only when walking that it’s absolutely useless.OKOKOK
ConsProtrudes a lot; as it’s a closed model, it may make your ears feel hot and stuffy; not very comfortable - the Pulsar 590 or the Gear4 BluPhones are FAR easier to wear; not as loud as the loudest headphones; weight; not as excellent headband as that of Gear4Comparatively high noise, particularly in the right headphone; quiet outdoors; pretty bad sensitivity; major interference problems outdoors in pedestrian usage; no auto-reconnection with WM; worst battery life of all the tested headphonesNo auto-reconnection with WM; headband doesn’t seem to be very sturdy; MAJOR AVRCP problems; LED blinking can be frustrating; very high sound emission (not for in-office use!); weight (taken into the battery life in account); just doesn’t fit on the earLED blinking is by far the worst; lack of treble (with EQ, easily fixable); AVRCP problems with Symbian; the dongle (with the 590A) is very slow and useless for moviesIn-ear headphones (which can be a stumbling block for many not liking them); AVRCP problems with Symbian; not very good battery life
ProsExcellent compatibility (even with Symbian!); excellent frequency response; LED can be entirely turned off; EXCELLENT, BY FAR THE BEST battery life; miniUSB charger; no noise; 2.5mm socket for wired usageHeadband seems to be durable (much more so than with the Cellink); no problems with Symbian (as opposed to some of the other devices); no blinking LED; very small and light particularly when compared to Cellink / HT820; pretty good basses for the size; discrete; easily pocketableMuch better dongle than that of the 590A – excellent for video watching where a dongle is a must. (Actually, I don’t recommend it for anything else, given that its AVCRP support is REALLY bad. As you don't need AVRCP with the dongle, this problem won't be an issue when you use it.)The best all-in-one over-the-head headphones. Durable, reliable, much better battery life than with any of the other headphones (except for the HT820), good bass and even a 3.5mm socket for wired usage; doesn’t make your ears feel hot and stuffy, unlike the HT820Excellent frequency response - much better than traditional earbuds (like those of the MS Zune); minimal unwanted emission; modular; very small and light; if you like in-ear headphones, you may like it too; looks professional for business users don’t want to be frowned upon for using “real” headphones
All in all,If you have little money (the 590 is way more expensive, even the “economical” 590e) the discomfort and the protruding design isn’t a problem and/or you have a Symbian phone, you may want to consider it. DO test it, however, before purchasing - again, it's not comfortable.While, physically, this model is without doubt one of the best (much more durable headband than with many of the alternative headphones; almost no protrusion; small, light, really comfortable, easily pocketable, discreet), electronically, it’s far worse than it should be (very bad battery life; high, very bad self-noise; very sensitive to reflections – impossible to use while walking –, very low maximal volume). I mostly recommend it for Symbian users and/or people that do NOT plan to use it while walking or in a noisy environment and/or looking for discreet, non-protruding, pretty much professional-looking headphones, should you want to stay away from the HT820 and the 590 and absolutely dislike the feeling of the in-ear 855.In no way recommended. Stay away from it!I still recommend this model the most (unless you have a Symbian phone) – while the HT820 comes pretty close, it just can’t match the 590, particularly not in maximal volume- and comfort-wise. If you really want a “convertible” mono headset and/or a “business-like” set, you might want to take a look at it. Serious A2DP users who prefer over-the-ear headphones because of their (still) better frequency response, battery life and the lack of the, for many, annoying feeling in-ear headphones cause, however, will want to prefer either the HT820 or the 590.
Some model / firmware-specific tests: Nokia N95: NoiseNot really hearable – excellentWorst, clearly hearable, even under quieter sounds. Not very bad (but, again, you won’t want to get this model if you have a Symbian phone because of the complete lack of AVRCP)While hearable, it’s in no way as bad as on the Gear4, particularly because of the tremble-less and bass boost sound of Hearable but not as bad as with the Gear4
Quality of the playback of a classical title++; better than on s710 – appr. Pulsars on the s710Good (see, however, above)+, excellent+, excellent
BlackBerry 8800 + OS 4.5.0.9+++ (even auto-reconnects, unlike with WM)++
HTC Universal Ranju v7.6 WM6.1 ROM w/o any tweaksn/t-; upon first connection, worked OK; after that (after the first power cycle), it either mutes at once, as with the 855, or badly stutters. (No auto reconnection.) Not any kind (handset- or headphones-side) of power recycling works.n/t+ works great (note that it requires a power cycle [powering down the headphones and powering it up and reconnecting]; otherwise, it mutes after playing some 300-400 ms)- at first, it works; however, after reconnection (without a reset), no sound emerges from the headphones any more. Resetting, or restarting BT don’t help – that is, absolutely useless!
X51v + makuu A06 privß06pn/t-: See with Univ: uselessn/t+ works great after a headphones power cycle & reconnection+; no reconnection problems, unlike with Univ
Hx4700 + VIET PDAV61KBDn/t+ (albeit doesn’t auto-reconnect)n/a (fully incompatible)++
HTC Vox, tweaked++; much better than on Oxygen; a little bit worse than on the two Pulsars; a2dp doesn’t reconnect (just like on Oxygen), unlike with the other two models – manual reconnect very annoying!++; almost flawless+; almost flawless
WM5 HTC Oxygen; with the joint stereo tweak works, but awful sound q-: works, but awful sound q; A2DP doesn’t reconnect, unlike with the other two models – very annoying!works, but awful sound q-: works, but bad sound q – albeit better than on the other two headphones because of the lack of the tremble-: heavily stuttering, completely useless; in mono (non-tweaked) mode it works; after a reboot, worked OK but with the usual distortion
HTC Wizard with the AMP ROMn/t+n/t++