What is it?
The Blue Ant Interphone is a Bluetooth headset designed for motorcycle helmets that allows communication between two Blue Ant Interphones or a cell phone. The Interphone utilizes Bluetooth technology so you are constantly connected and able to hold conversations just like the telephone. This is a contrast to other solutions that work like a walkie-talkie where only one user can talk at once.
The Blue Ant units were $120 each, when I purchased them in June 2008. This is the price for one unit, you need to units if you want to communicate with another user. This price is much less expensive than similar units by other manufacturers.
I primarily use the device to communicate with another rider when we ride in pairs or a small group. The quoted range for the devices to work is 500 feet, which I find pretty accurate. In real world terms, I find as long as we are in sight of each other we stay connected. Occasionally when one of us drives out of sight we do get disconnected.
Clarity and Volume
I find the clarity to be excellent below about 65mph. I normally ride with earplugs and can hear my partner just fine. We have conversations, just like we were talking on the telephone. When we get on the freeway and are traveling at 70mph+ it is not possible to have a conversation, but you can still get messages through. On the freeway we only really find it useful to shout quick directions like, “take this exit” or “move to the left lane.”
The device is two pieces. One piece is the earphone and microphone, which plugs in to the second piece – the base. The earphone/microphone can be velcro-ed into your helmet near your ear, leaving the microphone dangling in place. The base comes with two mounting options. The non-permanent option is a clamp style mount that attaches the bottom of the helmet. This mount is tightened to the helmet with two screws and can be removed whenever you want. The more permanent option is a thin plastic piece that adheres to the outside of your helmet. I have used both pieces and while the clamp mount never fell off – I rode with it at 80mph+- it did not feel that secure. I now use the permanent adhesive mount and think it is great. When I am riding solo I do not have the communicator on helmet and I forget the mount is there.
Size of the unit
The base piece is quite small and light. It is about two inches long, an inch tall and an inch deep (my approximations). It does not weigh much at all – I do not notice a difference between when it is on my helmet or off.
Since it is bluetooth and can also hook up to your cell phone and bluetooth music player. I have hooked it up to my Blackberry Curve to play my MP3s. It is mono sound though so the music quality is not really great. I don’t think I’ll be making phone calls from my bike, but with a compatible phone you can do total hands free with voice activated dialing and all.
The downside of the units is you can only hook two units together, you could not add a third person if you were traveling in a group. I am not sure if this is a limitation of the device or a limitation of Bluetooth technology in general.
I would highly recommend these units to anyone who rides with another person – rider or passenger. Anyone who has ever been in the middle of a ride and found themselves beeping crazily and waving their arms madly about would benefit from this product. Being able to talk freely eliminates so much of the stress of riding with another person. Gone are the days of all the arguments of “you took the wrong exit,” “I’m starving and going to die,” and frustrations of trying to communicate with helmets/earplugs and not having a clue what those strange gestures the other person was giving you meant.