This is an update on previous webBikeWorld reviews, including the
Interphone Bluetooth intercom review, the
Scala Rider TeamSet Bluetooth intercom review and
the IMC Camos
Bluetooth intercom review.
You may recall our last chapter in the continuing saga
of Bluetooth disappointment (more on that in a minute), when our
original set of Interphone Bluetooth intercoms were replaced with the
Interphone "Comfort Kit".
This is an update on the replacement and some observations
on the current state of motorcycle Bluetooth intercoms in general.
Clockwise from top: IMC Camos; Cardo Scala Rider TeamSet; Interphone
Interphone Bluetooth Intercom
Interphone Bluetooth intercom was an interesting and
compact design, with the microphone on a small boom attached to the
communication module that clipped to the side of the helmet. A single
small and thin speaker on a short wire was also attached to the module.
There was nothing wrong with the design except for one
thing. Many owners discovered that the boom mount was prone to
breaking at the junction where it meets the module. This was a problem
with the original design and although it would have been nice if the factory
had been more proactive in informing us of the problem before we experienced
it, both units were quickly replaced at no charge with a "comfort kit" by
the retailer (photo below).
The new Interphone design is still fairly compact, but it
eliminates the microphone boom and instead places the mic on a wire that
comes out of the single speaker. This allows more freedom in locating
the microphone and the wires can be hidden under the helmet liner.
Both the speaker and mic are provided with double-sided tape
on back and the speaker also has a section of hook-and-loop fastener to
attach it to the ear pocket in the helmet. I don't know if the
original style kits are still being sold or if they have been redesigned.
The Interphone system became our favorite Bluetooth
intercom, mostly because it was simple to operate, its compact design
allowed it to be easily and quickly installed and it actually worked.
Also, it has one major difference, as it is the only
motorcycle Bluetooth intercom system with a several-hundred-foot range, so
it can be used both for rider-to-pillion and rider-to-rider.
Our comfort kit has lots of static at speeds over about 40
MPH and we're not sure why or if this is common with all of the recent
systems, but this problem has caused us to re-evaluate the Interphone as our
favorite motorcycle Bluetooth intercom.
Interphone Comfort Kit
IMC Camos BHS-600
We reviewed the IMC Camos
Bluetooth intercom in September of 2007, just a few months ago, after
working with it during the summer. This system uses the new Bluetooth
2.0 stereo technology and although it has promise, we had several problems
with ours and never did get it to work successfully.
It's also bulkier than the other systems, the helmet clip is
flimsy and the Firewire connector (at top in photo below) is difficult to
hide on some helmets.
By the way, even though each system discussed here uses Bluetooth, which is
supposed to be a standard shared communications protocol, none of these
systems are inter-operable.
IMC Camos BHS-600
Cardo Systems Scala Rider TeamSet
Coincidentally, Scala recently sent us the latest version of the TeamSet
Bluetooth intercom for a re-evaluation. You may recall that the original
Scala Rider TeamSet Bluetooth intercom was the first
motorcycle Bluetooth intercom we reviewed, almost exactly one year ago in
December of 2006. It was brand new at the time and although I wouldn't
say we weren't completely amazed by it, the system was an interesting new
way to eliminate intercom wires and it worked as advertised.
The original Scala intercoms produced some background
hissing noise in the speakers, and Midland in the UK sent us a replacement
pair, which were no better.
We sold the original set in a webBikeWorld garage sale, so
we can't compare them to the new set, but the version sent recently (photo
below) appears to be identical.
It was paired at the factory, so all we had to do was charge
the batteries and turn it on and it worked. It still has the
background noise though, and it is strictly a rider-to-pillion system with a
range of about 10 feet or less.
However, after using the three different Bluetooth systems
installed in several different helmets, on many trips, rides and with many
different riders, the Scala Rider TeamSet Bluetooth intercom system is now
Either our memories are faded or, now that we're using it
again, the TeamSet system seems easier to use compared to the others and its
dual speakers provide greater volume, which is obviously one of the most
important features for use on motorcycles.
But the Scala system is not without problems; in fact,
Bluetooth intercoms in general just aren't there yet (see below).
Our Scala intercom still has too much background noise and
hissing; one of the new units is affected by this much more than the other,
so it may be due to some sort of tolerancing problem during manufacture or
in the electronics. The hissing is apparent no matter where or how we
use the systems, and we've tried switching the modules, different helmets,
different environments and anything else we can try.
To be fair, it's not noticeable at speed, but it's there.
Also, one of the batteries in the new system has a very short life span of
about 45 minutes or so. This is obviously a defect that would probably
On the plus side, the Scala microphone boom is very robust
and the system seems to be very well made. The owner's manual is still
very thin, which is both good and bad news, but at least it's relatively
understandable, unlike some of the others. It indicates that the
system is easy to set up and operate, but the manual doesn't have a lot of
troubleshooting information if things go wrong.
Also, although the manual is relatively clear, the text
still seems more like a somewhat poor translation to English. And it's
curious that the manual starts with and seems to emphasize the instructions
on how to pair the device to a cell phone rather than how to use the system
as an intercom.
Intercom manufacturers take note: you must provide clear,
easy to understand owner's manuals, user guides and setup instructions
written by native speakers in the country where the products are sold.
Uh, and it would help to have the manuals written by riders who actually use
the systems, rather than some engineer back in the Old Country?
It's astounding that none of the companies have been serious
about doing this; we've found errors and inconsistencies along with
confusing and grammatically incorrect narrative in every one of the manuals.
So the bottom line is that the Scala Rider TeamSet Bluetooth
intercom system is our current pick for the best of a mediocre lot.
Bluetooth intercoms still have a ways to go, which brings me
to my next topic: Bluetooth technology itself.
Cardo Systems Scala Rider TeamSet
The webBikeWorld intercom evaluators always wear properly
fitted ear plugs while riding during the intercom evaluations and this is reflected
in thee opinions on sound quality and speaker volume. Your experience may
and probably will differ. Always wear high-quality, correctly fitted ear plugs
when riding a motorcycle (more
The Unfulfilled Promise of Bluetooth
I'm not an Electrical Engineer, and I don't pretend to be one, but I do
have both a B.S. and an M.S. in technology related fields. I've also
been riding motorcycles for many years.
That's neither here nor there, but it's just offered as
background information to establish that I have at least some credentials
that you think would help me figure out how to set up and use what is
supposed to be an easy-to-use consumer oriented communications system.
As a consumer, my needs are simple. I care nothing
about Bluetooth technology, its cutesy name and least of all about "pairing"
the devices. All I want is a wireless intercom system that allows me
to press a button, turn it on and have it work. That's it.
But apparently, that's too much to ask, according to one
intercom company engineer I talked to.
In my mind (and according to the official Bluetooth
protocol) a Bluetooth intercom system should automatically sense any other
Bluetooth devices that are in range and active, and it should pair with them
without any intervention or awareness on my part.
OK, so maybe the device would require some other "accept"
button that allows me the choice of connecting with or rejecting a signal
from another Bluetooth-enabled device, like an audio player, headphones, GPS
or -- heaven help us -- a cell phone.
But that doesn't happen.
My opinion and based on my experience, Bluetooth is one of
the most poorly implemented, over-hyped and disappointing technologies of
the past decade. I remember reading an article not long ago in a
technical journal lamenting the market acceptance of Bluetooth. The
author speculated on why the technology wasn't more widely used.
I can tell you why: in my experience with Bluetooth devices
including cell phones, cameras, printers, motorcycle and office intercoms,
earphones and headsets and laptop computers, I have never gotten it to work
the way it should: unobtrusively, consistently and without intervention.
Apparently I'm not alone. Search the Internet and
you'll come across thousands of threads and questions in various user groups
with owners looking for help on getting the technology to work in their
devices. I just bought a new cell phone with all the latest technology
and you guessed it -- it took me literally about 3 hours to finally get the
Bluetooth connection to work. But every time I start the car, I have
to go through the motions yet again to get it to pair.
Talk to the Bluetooth or electronics engineers -- as I have
-- and their attitude seems to fit one of two categories: users are
basically stupid and they don't understand the technology, or the user's
expectations are too high. One actually laughed at me for expecting
that the systems should pair with each other without user intervention!
But the technology was and is sold on that fact that it's
supposed to be a transparent background communication protocol. When I
turn on a wireless phone at home or a cell phone to make a call, I don't
have to screw around getting it to "pair" with the base, right? I just
pick it up, turn it on and call a number.
My expectations are no less than the past 100 years of user
experience with wired telephones. Telephone users couldn't care less
about how it works, they just want to pick it up, dial a number and talk to
someone on the other end.
And by the way, there's no "name" for the technology that
makes this work -- it's just there and it works and no one (other than the
engineers) know it's there, what it's called and how or why it does what it
But somehow, Bluetooth is different. The engineers
scoff at me when I give them the telephone example -- and that's exactly
what's wrong with the picture. Will it get better? I'd like to
think so, but 13-odd years after the Bluetooth 1.0 protocol was released,
it's still not ready for use by the regular old everyday consumer.
So here's your challenge, engineers: let's see if we can put
it in different terms, using an outcome-based approach. Note that
we're not specifying a particular technology or solution, only some of the
outcomes we want from a motorcycle communication system. We don't care
how you do it -- if it's Bluetooth or whatever you call it or how it works;
all we want is for you to meet these basic needs for motorcycle communication:
Provide wireless communication
that allows a rider and passenger and/or a rider and another rider to
speak to each other in normal conversational tone and volume at any
speed from 0 MPH to 100 MPH
Minimize the size and weight of
Minimize the amount of time and
effort it takes to install the system
Minimize the complexity and time
it takes to get the system up and running when new
Minimize the complexity and time
it takes to turn the system on and use it in subsequent usage
Minimize the complexity in
connecting the system with other devices such as a GPS, radio or others
Minimize the amount of
background noise heard at any speed
Minimize the power that the
device uses (i.e., make the batteries last as long as possible)
Make it waterproof to a minimum
of IEC 60529 IPX7 standards (withstand accidental immersion in one meter
of water for up to 30 minutes)
Allow it to connect to other
communication systems, no matter what brand
Minimize the sale price (= or <
$100.00 per unit?)
Engineers, you may think that your current products meet these needs but
they don't. Besides, there's always room for improvement.
webBikeWorld visitors, what do you think?
Publication Date: December 2007
Note: For informational use only. All material and
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►Your Comments and
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "John" (11/08): "I’m a courier. I bought the TomTom
Rider V2 bundled with a scala rider headset. I also bought a imate
JasJam (3G phone). After six months I bought the scala rider FM
headset. After 12 mths I’ve had enough of all 3.
The TomTom starts up whenever it wants. The start button is soo hard
to push now. The voice instructions come on whenever it wants.
It unpairs with the headset whenever. The bike mount power connection
isn’t working; there’s power in the wiring but not at the mount. There
were always problems in the wet; neither are suited to all weather use.
The headset turns off or starts clicking in my ear.
The mic arm is loose; the base of it is cracked. The foam cover
disintegrated long ago so I use earphone covers! The pairing with the
phone drops out and sometimes rebooting everything still doesn’t achieve a
They get used all day, 5 days a week so no wonder!
I’ve just ordered the Garmin zumo550 and Camos motocom BTS
headset. The phone is a lot harder to decide on.
Another 2 couriers saw mine and bought the scala rider
headsets. One has had his replaced after 3 mths. The other
bought the TomTom rider v2 combo and has no complaints after 6mths, although
he had the TomTom crushed after it flew off the mount, but the phone pairing
is still fine so time will tell."
From "J": "In response to your post about Bluetooth
technology... I completely agree with you in relation to Bluetooth Audio
devices. I was very excited when Bluetooth headsets started coming
out, but ultimately very disappointed in their performance. I have
tried many and all seem to work well for 10 to 20 minutes, as long as the
phone is in line of sight of the earpiece, and then they begin to have
I still like and endorse Bluetooth technology in data
applications. Even though I need to manually pair the two devices, I
find it to be worth the lack of cords when syncing my phone with my computer
or using a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.
All in all, Bluetooth is very, very overhyped and very
disappointing. Love the site. Keep it up."
From "P.H.": "I just purchased a motorcycle and my wife
has also we would like to have bike to bike communications, here is the
catch. I wear hearing aids. Normally when I wear them with a
helmet they whistle (feedback) so I have to turn them off.
But I have found a solution for bike to bike communication.
It is in the hearing aid itself using what is called the FM system. I
put the device around my neck and my wife puts the “Microphone” around her
neck. When I put my aids onto FM system (it does not feedback as the
microphone on the aids are Off) I pick up directly into my aids her voice
from the microphone, to my device around my neck and directly to my aids, no
Problem is, what about her? I still have to get close and
shout, but her hearing is great so it is not so bad.
Maybe the solution lies with hearing aid companies, like
Phonak, my hearing aid company for the past 35
From "JimG": "From "T.H" (below): "Agreed!
The problems we are trying to solve as consumers are: Get rid of the
headset cable that runs to the control unit. Actually, by now industry
should have mastered the art of helmet speakers and microphone.
Any system produced needs to accomplish the following:
One time installation of Mic.
and speakers to the helmet.
Standardized connections for
item 1 for multiple helmet controller options (notes here): Allows
vendors to produce various grades of basic helmet Mic. and speaker
Helmet controllers will be
simply wireless connections for Mic. and speakers with either a
detachable battery or detachable unit for easy recharging or helmet
changing. Three helmets can be wired (for nothing almost) and you
can transfer the controller to your choice of helmet. (as apposed to
hard wired helmets, locked into the vendors plans of making you spend
$400 buck per functional helmet ECT).
Items 1 thru 3 accomplish simple wireless connection of Mic. and speakers to
some other unit. This keeps the helmet wireless and transfers all the
business end of communications to the bike. There are no other needs
for the helmet whatsoever. This also leaves these two components open
to helmet manufacturers, vendors ECT for product improvement.
Base Unit/Controller Unit: This is where most of the industry really has
missed the boat. Lets walk through what this device should really do.
Requirements for base unit:
Compact logic unit:
Installable on the bike out of the way and bike powered electrical.
Remote input cable assembly:
To provide user determined location for inputs (Some may want all their
gear in saddle bags, some may want their inputs up on the handle bars. .
.who cares where just let us decide not the manufacturers.)
Let's face it, these are simple stereo jacks or Mic. cables organized
into "channels" or "inputs". We have mastered this a long time
ago. No science, no re-engineering, no r&d costs. So here is
your FSR radio, your MP3 player, your GPS, and your radar detector and
phone (cabled inputs) all in on cable wherever you want with port
inputs. Its all audio or Mic.. The control knows what is
wired to what pins, so logical volume controls work based on priority.
Almost all phones have the ear pieces with Mic. on the cord with a
single plug. All very cheap. No reason we cant have a single
plug on each end of a cable to plug our phone in and it not cost us 70
bucks. All MP3 players have a headphone jack and the 3.5mm to
3.5mm cable is a 4 dollar cable.
The key point here is that all these cables are standard low cost
cables. The goal is just to connect the device to the logic unit.
plug-in unit for the logic unit, with cable. This option would
allow for all Bluetooth connections. This item should also have a
standard jack for any control unit to allow multiple vendors.
Bluetooth obviously for those that would like their phone to
automatically pair to the bike when riding. This is the only real
application for Bluetooth (see below)/
Notes: Bluetooth is a secure wireless DATA medium. Let me
say (type) that again. . . .secure wireless DATA!!!!!! medium.
Bluetooth was never built for voice communications or wireless stereo
for that matter. Why would we need a secure password to hear
wireless radio for 30 feet???? Think about it.
OK, so at this point you must be wondering how this is supposed to work
then. . .here we go:
between the logic unit and the helmet: This is the only
wireless that counts. FSR radios can send and receive 18 miles. .
.why would we want to compete with that capability???
Cell phones can call China, not going to try and re-engineer anything
Bluetooth is OK for a wireless phone conversation, but lets face it,
Bluetooth has noise, doesn't work all that well and if we can reduce
it's use to pairing it with our phone and stopping, life and our wallets
will be a lot happier for it.
I for one have no issues with a few 3.5mm cables for GPS, radar, and
MP3. After all, all we want is simple headphone or left and right
audio output to be feed to our helmet.
So, what we need is a wireless method that can handle stereo and a
microphone to the helmet. How far is that? 4 feet max?
Well lets say we want to get off the bike and walk into the gas station
and still be connected. Lets say 50 feet would in almost all cases
be about as far as we would be from the bike with our helmet on and
possibly need our Comms.
Seems to me FM can do stereo for long range. Wireless phones at
900 MHz can do speaker and Mic. All we need is 50 feet from helmet
to bike. Standardize on something for this. This is year
2008 right??? Apparently no one can engineer this. I think
they can very easily. Lets be realistic though.
Audio input only (simple)
GPS: audio input only
MP3 Player: Best
solution here would be a USB port and just play your music from a USB
thumb drive (this would have to be built into the logic unit but well
worth it). Now the remote touch pad to let you change either songs
This really is a separate unit that just needs the output feed to the
system. Left/right audio input (simple).
Cell Phone: Add
Bluetooth, setup the pairing, done. If Bluetooth is turned on at your
phone, anytime you get near the bike and the logic unit is one the phone
will pair. No muss no fuss just works. Best part is you turn off the
bike ignition, phone is normal and usually helmet is off.
FSR radio: Simple
plug, can be an as needed plug it in unit. $50 bucks buys you two
Motorola radios with 18 mile range. You get to choose the radio,
you get two, most are rechargeable, you can always upgrade.
Finally, there is no reason why we can't have an adapter kit for FSR
radios instead of buying completely different cables for different FSR
So with this all said let me give you an idea of what COULD
Imagine if you will. . . .
XYZ helmet with Bose Comms built in! (remember standardized
wireless for 50 feet) so all the helmet manufacturers could offer helmets
with Comms built in and various degrees of quality. Since EVERYONE
could offer this, competition keeps cost fair to, ummh, US!!!!!
How about Motorola FSR built into the logic unit and a
remote vol/channel unit for the bars. Instant 18 miles plus of bike to
bike communications with channel selection. No more rider to rider
Better yet, the system is built so you can go buy the
hand-held for under 50 bucks and plug them in. $50 rider to rider
Comms. Its a beautiful thing.
More interesting would be a remote antenna option for built
in FSR. We do have phones but for bike to bike if you need more than
18 miles of range, you really aren't riding together are you?
Even more cool, a remote bar mounted control unit with input
selector buttons along the top (with LEDs for night riding), and a dayglow/nightlight
pad with basic simple controls. How nice to adjust each channels
volumes with a few taps, or changing FSR channels due to other local channel
And finally. . .imagine if you will:
A nice day, friends all meeting for a ride:
You grab your keys, unplug your helmet from charging, head
out to the bike, put your helmet on, turn the key and your phone is
automatically available via your helmet, you press play on the bar and your
USB MP3 music comes alive, power on your FSR and confirm your channel for
your friends, bike is warmed up, choke is off, and off you go.
You stop at the gas station, turn off the bike, get off and
go about your business. No cables making you lurch or jerk so people
around you don't stare at the moron on the bike with cables like space man
The whole time you are talking with your buddies either on
the phone or via FSR or just enjoying your music while you fuel up and pay.
Go on in and grab a drink for later and pay for it. . .your still connected
to your bike and life is good.
Plans changed, everyone is meeting up 3 miles away at a
different spot. You know about it at 50 mph and adjust without so much
as a thought.
This is what it is supposed to be. And the base logic
unit and helmet controller plus wires should not exceed 150 bucks.
Audio channeling, 50 feet wireless, cables, and some rechargeable batteries
are so common place and available in so many products for far less.
When 50 bucks can buy you 18 miles of wireless range, with
2000 channels and rechargeable batteries (times TWO units) plus base
recharger for 50 bucks it is pretty obvious that our controller and logic
units can be made at a comparable price also."
Editor's Reply: Wow! I'm with you.
The only thing I'd add: as long as you've got those Bose speakers built in
to the theoretical helmet, how about equipping them with the Bose noise
From "T.H.": "Your ... site is my favorite motorcycle
site online. Had to tell you that up front.
I was just reading the article comparing the latest updates
to the Bluetooth intercoms that concluded with the disparaging state of
Bluetooth for this purpose.
Couldn't agree more with the author. I also feel that
the last comment (from K.W. [below]) is spot-on. I'm a sport rider and
don't leave the driveway without earplugs in.
Not only do I find it seriously hard to believe that a 2mm
thick speaker will sound like anything but crap through earplugs, but with
most helmets, the speakers are extremely uncomfortable. I bought a set
of Shure E2c earbuds long before I was in the market for an intercom and am
in love. They fit completely in my ear and therefore are comfortable,
have awesome sound, and double as earplugs (can leave the music/intercom
turned well down and still hear instead of damaging my ears on full volume).
So when I DID spend money on an intercom, I had one demand:
It must allow for the use of my own earbuds. There was only one that
did and that's the Autocom. Unfortunately, this required an adapter
lead that cost $40 per headset and added another 3' of (super-thick) cord to
the already ridiculous tangle of cables, plus the added complication of now
running TWO wires into the helmet. But at least it works (beautifully,
I might add).
I'm still in the market for Bluetooth, though.
Although the noise cancellation, connectability, and sound quality are A+ on
the Autocom, it still requires you to use a proprietary headset pinout, is
massively complicated, and tangles you in cables. I find I only use it
if I'm riding longer than 150 miles (so three times a year) because it takes
so long to put ON that it's not even worth it!
The current Bluetooth offerings are totally unappealing
right now, unfortunately, or I'd ditch the spider web. The Interphone
makes me drool with its ability to communicate with a bike a Km away!
But what's the point when you can only connect to one device at a time?
If I'm on a group ride, why can't I talk to everyone in the
group? Why do I have to ditch my pillion to communicate with another
bike? So it's worthless to me.
The IMC Camos also makes me drool in that it apparently
pairs with multiple devices and gets good battery life. But it doesn't
have the range to make multiple device pairing worthwhile (i.e. bike to
bike), so what's the point?
And even if any of these problems get fixed, there's still
the issue of mandatory tiny speakers and proprietary mics and a big turd-looking
thing sticking off the side of your friggin' head! (There is NO WAY an
actual rider that has ridden faster than 40mph thought up the idea of
sticking the unit to the side of the rider's helmet!)
If you have to shorten this comment down for the web page,
here's the most important part, what I want in an intercom: I want a device
the size of any of the above intercom base units that does nothing but
transfer audio to and from a sending unit.
This egg or disc or whatever shaped device can be kept in a
pocket or worn on a necklace or strapped to a glove because there is no
proprietary headset attached to it. Instead, it's just got a standard
3.5mm jack for the rider to plug his own headset in. And another for a
simple stick-on mic. (or one of those IASUS throat mics that seem PERFECT
for this application!).
The base unit can be just like an Autocom or Torque or
whatever: Just a box that you can put in your tank bag or mount to
your handlebar or whatever. This will be the communication center and
connect via Bluetooth (or whatever) to several devices at the same time:
rider and passenger headsets, mp3 player, phone, or another base unit on
another bike (a la Interphone). Because it's not attached to your
head, this base unit can have bigger and therefore longer-lasting batteries
and can handle all of the noise cancellation and whatnot.
Maybe that's a lot to ask, but the technology is clearly
already there just by combining several other products and in the process
removing the bulk and wires from the rider's person (especially the side of
his head) and giving him/her choice in headgear."
From "R.G.M.": "Burn's article about BlueTooth Intercoms
and the poor showing really hits home with me as I have found none that even
interest me enough to buy and try. I use a wired Autocom system with
Bluetooth module to connect my other devices and it works extraordinarily
well. I would prefer a wireless headset for the helmet though.
The current Bluetooth gadgets are failures mostly due to poor
I don't think that Bluetooth suites our expectations of a
wireless communications system mainly because the protocol wasn't really
designed with these expectations in mind. Bluetooth expects to be
paired to provide security so that unpaired devices can't listen in or
This "security" though is pretty bad and easy to
overcome. Bluetooth was developed as a PAN or personal area network
protocol and so is complex to deal with the complex systems for which it
enables communications. It's not hard to enter a PIN and pair when you are
sitting in front of a computer and the pop-up ask for the key.
The easiest way to provide what we are looking for is to
use, as you mention, wireless telephone technology. With spread
spectrum digital signal radios that are paired by touching each other and a
second radio that allows Bluetooth devices to be paired to the set you get
the function and convenience we are looking to have.
This would be
best done in the 900mhz range for distance. Imagine having your headsets
paired, having your Bluetooth GPS linked in and meeting up with a buddy to
go for a ride. You touch your headsets and bingo you can talk to each
other. The link simple expires after X amount of time not seeing the
Both technologies are very well understood and radios are
tiny now. Put this with some nice lithium batteries and you have a
The only worse technology with Bluetooth are cell phones.
The network providers cripple and sometimes completely disable Bluetooth to
keep users from transferring data over free air."
From "H.B.C.": "As you know I have been working with
Bluetooth since its inception, and while it has never really lived up to its
billing (the next version standard would help) and it can be extremely
frustrating to work with (even when one is well qualified), it does have
specific applications, both intended and incidental.
I feel that using
Bluetooth for relatively simple and inexpensive communication devices has
been more incidental or commercially exploitive . I appreciate that my
comments might just add fuel to the fire of course.
However, having said this, and as an initial user of the
Interphone device, and now having tested the Scala, I still see the
Interphone as the best of a relatively (weak) bunch.
Interphone - the new Comfort Headset, supplied in the
later packages or available as an accessory, overcomes most of the
installation issues raised by most. We have two sets of the devices,
with the original boom microphone headset mounted in our Nolan 102 flip
helmets, and each of our other four helmets (Arai XD and Arai Corsair) have
the new headset installed.
I agree that the noise levels can be noticed, but it never
detracts from communicating. In dry conditions and in a relatively
uncluttered radio environment, they cannot be beaten - we typically
communicate at ranges from 500 to 1000m (1km), somewhat less once the
batteries start to run down.
A typical charge, even after one year of use, provides 5 to
6 hours of use, longer if the connection is cancelled and restarted when
needed (our typical touring status). Noise levels do increase, usually
in damp or wet conditions or again, when the batteries start to run down.
But, the systems always continue to work well.
Setup is simple and as long as the instructions are
followed, the devices will be properly configured, quickly. I will
agree that provided instructions are the pits, which is why so many of us
re-write or write our own for distribution. The Interphone has never
refused to be initiated, paired, or re-synchronized even when switching
between or from another device, ie GPS.
Scala - noise levels extremely high compared to the
Interphone, and battery life is also half, or less, than that provided by
the Interphone devices. Setup and continuation pairing was always a
problem. On the plus side, the dual headset is greatly appreciated and
for this type of device, always will be.
Bluetooth technology and use - won't argue with the
points and observations raised in general, however, unless or until
something better comes along, I believe Bluetooth, outside of other longer
range and higher power technologies already in use, remains a viable
technology for personal communication/media devices. Does it need work
- yes. Do we have something better and simpler, and more
(commercially) cost effective, right now - don't believe so.
As I have stated before, the technology, and the devices are
not perfect, and I for one would be willing to pay a premium to get some or
all of the requirements addressed and implemented, or offered up as upgrade
But, for now, our two little Interphone devices, which can
be tucked away anywhere, even with their small charger, simply snap on and
off in seconds between all our helmets...nothing else, for the price, has
that simplicity, portability or function."
From "R.D.": "Just a comment, as I don’t know how I’d be
able to add another comment in your Interphone Review section.
With the Garmin ZUMO 550, someone mentioned only 1.5 hours
listening to the music. I got a full 4 hours out of it, even leaving
it on while eating lunch or stopping for gas. However, turn-by-turn
directions are never missed, sound is fantastic.
Oh, and by the way, you mentioned that you guys couldn’t
tell if the ‘automatic sound level’ thingy worked. At its loudest
setting, that’s just what it says: Loudest setting. However, if you
set it anywhere lower than the loudest setting, the sound level picks up as
the ambient noise picks up. FANTASTIC FEATURE! Keeps that
annoying loud music to a minimum and I never have to use the loudest setting
on the Interphone.
Still working with the intercom feature, as I haven’t been
able to get my wife out on the bike in these freezing 60 degree San Diego
Interphone - Cell Phone: Tricky, to say the least.
Pairs up very quickly, but the Verizon Gleam might have a problem as I can’t
get the Interphone to answer calls even after following the “Voice
Activation” feature instructions. More later after I master this
situation. May be the Gleam, as it wasn’t really ready for the market when
it came out and Verizon is still working out the bugs in it.
More later, as I get the chance to check out everything the
Interphone is expected to do, and more."
From "L.C.": "I am in the market for one of these units,
but can't get past their present flaws. I like your design
requirements, but would add/modify a few:
Compact design, but still
glove-friendly- no micro switches.
Ability to simultaneously
communicate with another intercom, a GPS and a cell phone without having
to manually switch channels or the like.
Speaker volume compatible with
ear plug use.
Let's put a number on how long
it takes from opening the box to hitting the road- 30 minutes seems
Unfortunately I feel the potential revenue in this niche
market is somewhat un-enticing to the large firm that might be able to
really pull this off, i.e. Motorola. Hopefully I'm wrong, because I
really want one. Until then I'll spend $180 or so and find a cheap
headset to work with my GPS."
From "K.W.": "Couldn't agree more with
what you had to say about Bluetooth Motorcycle devices.
I have not used any of the obscure one's you test though. Why not test
the top two, J&M and Chatterbox?
Also what I'd like to see in Motorcycle Bluetooth is the
HEADPHONE JACK, Don't lecture me
about the law for communication devices requiring speakers not
None of these motorcycle devices
are portable because of the design. I should be able to put the
device in my pocket and choose the helmet I want to wear without all the
connecting of the device to the helmet and cutting pockets for speakers,
3.5mm mic/audio jacks are a dime
a dozen and I should have a headphone only choice if my choice is music
and directions only from my Garmin Zumo. Adding a mic/headphone
(not speaker) shouldn't be a problem either since a mic with Velcro
truly doesn't take up any space.
So long as the manufacturers feel that their proprietary
speakers and mic are making them money and not the device itself I will
never be happy with what they offer."