TreoCentral's James Hromadka reviews the Motorola RAZRWIRE bluetooth headset
Headsets can be an incredible convenience but can also get in the way for the active person. Many headsets don't work well with sunglasses or eyeglasses, so users either have to wear their glasses cock-eyed because they sit on top of the headset or try to straddle the headset and the glasses on the ear, which can be uncomfortable.
I have been an Oakley fan since I bought a pair of Half Jackets for training for the 2005 Houston Marathon. I had seen them worn by the Women's Beach Volleyball team during the last Summer Olympics and figured if they were good enough for Misty May and Kerri Walsh, they were good enough for an aspiring runner. The Half Jackets are great shades, but their thick ear pieces make wearing them with a headset difficult. So I was excited when I heard about the Motorola RAZRWIRE, a headset that's attached to a pair of Oakley sunglasses. High tech meets high fashion. Does Motorola technology work with Oakley optics?
Inside the stylish carrying case you’ll find a pair of pewter (dark grey) sunglasses that have Black Iridium “Plutonite” lenses, with Oakley’s patented “XYZ Optics.” Unlike other Oakley sunglasses, the only place you will see the Oakley name is etched on the bottom of the left lens, and the only place you will see the Oakley "O" logo is on the headset. These unisex shades are very stylish, sleek and allow only 10% of available light to reach the eyes. The lenses are not so dark that you can use them for poker, but they are sufficient enough for daylight usage. Unlike my Half Jackets, these don't wrap around your face, so sunlight can still enter from the sides.
The RAZRWIRE sunglasses are unfortunately not polarized. Polarized sunglasses are great for situations where you get a lot of glare from the sun reflecting off a surface, such as snow skiing, fishing, or water-sports. These sunglasses offer 100% UV protection and are made of an alloy that is 40% lighter than titanium and are very durable.
A carrying bag is also included that can be used to clean the lenses or store the RAZRWIRE.
The headset is rather bizarre-looking but incredibly useful. It easily clips to the frame of the Oakleys and, with slight pressure, slides along the frame to where you can insert the earpiece against your ear. To remove the headset, hold the sunglasses and twist the headset clockwise. The manual has detailed instructions for this, but it's pretty easy to do. The docs also detail how to switch the headset from the right to left ear, but that's also easy enough to figure out.
In case you're thinking about using the headset with other glasses, the hole for the sunglasses is a triangle that is roughly 3x4x4mm on its perimeter with the 3mm side being the vertical side. If you're thinking of doing this, I recommend going to a mall where the RAZRWIRE is sold and wear-testing it with your eyes/sunglasses.
The earpiece looks like your typical earbud but because the sunglasses are holding the headset in place, the earpiece doesn't need to be fully inserted to use. This made me very happy, as I could use the headset and have the earpiece resting against my ear and hold a long conversation without pain.
The earpiece is adjustable, and I recommend spending a few minutes when you first get the RAZRWIRE to find the optimal position of the headset on the glasses so that you can easily position the earpiece. You can also push the earpiece away from your ear if it bothers you. There is a small red LED on the bottom of the unit but it was not distracting and rarely blinks.
I tested the RAZRWIRE both with a Treo 650 and with a Sony Ericsson K750 and had no audio problems whatsoever. Sound-wise, this is one of the best headsets I have ever used. Audio buttons and the action button are on the bottom of the headset, and I did not need to maximize audio in order to hear the other party or for them to hear me. People could not even tell that I was using a headset when I was speaking to them, and that’s not something you can say about most Bluetooth headsets.
The RAZRWIRE was designed for the active person but it also excels as a sunglasses/headset combo for driving. I drive East going to work and West coming home, so the RAZRWIRE got a lot of use while driving. The sunglasses sufficiently blocked out the sun, and the headset worked great on the commute. My Celica is getting on in years so there's a little more engine / background noise, yet I was still able to hear the other party well and they were able to hear me.
For active users, the RAZRWIRE is fantastic. It took me a while to test the RAZRWIRE outside because it's been raining a lot, but I was able to finally take the RAZRWIRE out for a kickaround at Hermann Park last weekend. In soccer there's a lot of running and quick, jerky movements, but the RAZRWIRE didn't budge at all as I moved. I wasn't making phone calls but kept the earpiece in my ear, and it felt fine the entire time I played.
The closest Oakley equivalent I could find to the RAZRWIRE is the Half Wire XL, and the RAZRWIRE's retail price is $75 more, which is a bargain considering how good the headset is. For a little more, you get good sunglasses and a great headset. Since these are sunglasses, obviously you won't be using the RAZRWIRE at night or while moving around the house or office. It is not intended as a primary Bluetooth headset but makes an excellent headset for daytime drivers and active users. And Oakleys are definitely a fashion statement.
The only negative is that the lenses are not polarized, but that does not detract from how well this device, a marriage of high quality optics, high style, and high tech works. I highly recommend this product and will be using it all the time—when it's not raining.
(Originally published at TreoCentral on February 28th, 2006)