At $99.99, the Motorola H780 is one of the more reasonably priced noise-canceling headsets out there, and it offers long battery life and a conservative--but not stodgy--design. But before you buy it, make sure you've got your priorities straight: with mediocre noise-canceling performance and a slightly loose fit, it's better for long car rides than for walking and talking.
Design and Fit
This brushed-brown headset is a tiny 1.9 x 0.7 x 0.5 inches. That's smaller, in every respect, than the Plantronics Voyager 835 ($119), another noise-canceling headset with a conservative design. The H780's classy details include a carbon fiber front, a round metallic answer/end button on the front surface with a perforated strip extending from it, and finely perforated metal on the sides. On one side is a metal on/off switch and a matching rocker with raised bumps indicating which side is for increasing and decreasing the volume.
The H780 comes with only one earhook but includes several rubber earpieces in varying sizes. The headset felt loose as we moved our head around, but the soft rubber in-ear piece never felt irritating. It has one charging option: an AC adapter (the Voyager 835 comes with a car charger, and the Jabra BT530 also includes a USB cable).
Thanks to Motorola's EasyPair technology, pairing the H780 with our Samsung Sway was a cinch. Motorola's CrystalTalk noise-canceling technology combines digital signal processing (DSP), which isolates the speaker's voice, and dual mics, which cancel background noise.
Indoors and out, the H780 delivered mediocre noise-canceling performance. When we placed a call outdoors, our caller could make out what we were saying, but said our voice sounded clipped. Although she couldn't identify the source of noise in the background (ongoing traffic, including an idling garbage truck), she found it somewhat distracting. Indoors, our voice sounded scratchy and not totally clear, despite the fact that we placed our call from a quiet room.
When we placed the same calls using the Jabra BT530, an identically priced noise-canceling headset, the two fared comparably outdoors; both delivered decipherable, but not perfectly clear, voice quality. Indoors, the BT530 was similarly scratchy, but still clearer than the H780. In all situations, the BT530 was a little too loud on our end (as we noted in our original review), whereas the volume on the H780 was ideal--and easier on the ears.
Range and Battery Life
The H780 has a range of 33 feet, and indeed we were still able to hear our caller at that distance. By about 40 feet, however, the connection had become uncomfortably garbled. Its rated talk time of 7 hours is above average for a Bluetooth headset (the BT530, for instance, claims 5.5 hours of talk time). You can pair the headset with two phones simultaneously.
You won't get the best noise-canceling performance with the Motorola H780; for that, go for the Aliph Jawbone. Even the Jabra BT530, also $99.99, offers slightly better noise cancellation and a sturdier fit (and it comes with a car charger, to boot). But the H780 has a leg up on the BT530 when it comes to overall design and battery life. If you share these priorities, the H780 should fill the bill.