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Talk on the phone without losing your cool

Think cell phone headsets are too geeky for words? Motorola wants to help with a wireless headset built into a cool pair of shades.
Great looking sunglasses and a Bluetooth wireless headset in one affordable package.
Great looking sunglasses and a Bluetooth wireless headset in one affordable package.Motorola

Sometimes different technologies meld perfectly. For instance, take the high-tech Oakley sunglasses with an MP3 player built into the frames. They’re expensive, but they sound and look great and are very, very cool.

I figured it was only a matter of time before this concept was extended to other useful mobile technology. Enter Motorola, and their Oakley Razrwire headset-sunglasses combo. What could be better than a tiny, wireless headset perched on a pair of super-cool looking shades?

Razrwire (so-named because it’s a perfect match with Motorola’s super-cool RAZR phone) is really a pair of lightweight Oakley sunglasses and an integrated Motorola Bluetooth wireless headset for hands-free communication up to 30 feet from a compatible cell phone.

The sunglasses portion sports Oakley’s XYZ optics, with Plutonite lens material that blocks 100 percent of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light. The frames are made out of Oakley's "O-luminum" alloy, which the company says is 40 percent lighter than titanium, and come with custom-engineered spring hinges.

The headset module measures 0.75 by 2.1 by 0.4 inches, weighs half an ounce and can be clipped onto the sunglasses frame on either the left or right side. It has a speaker you can twist and turn to fit into your ear and a microphone that can pick up your voice as you speak normally. You can make and receive calls, adjust the volume and turn the device on and off with one press of a button. The headset runs on rechargeable batteries which are rated to last up to 5 to 6 hours per charge — or up to 100 hours on standby.

So far, so good.

If you’ve been reading carefully you might have picked up the fact that the sunglasses and the headset are actually two completely separate items. You have to put them together to get the full effect, unlike the Oakley MP3 player which was fully integrated.

It’s not so bad the first time you have to put them together. You attach the module to the side of the sunglass frames then lock it into place. Next step is trying to use the earpiece.  You may have to unlock the module and slide the device back and forth to get the earpiece in the exact correct position for you. It took me five or six tries to get the earpiece to sit in my ear — almost comfortably. 

Motorola provided a black RAZR test phone to use with Razrwire, but I didn't use it, preferring instead to try the sunglasses-headset combo on an older silver RAZR phone and also on a Motorola A780 smart phone. Set-up was a breeze and the system worked perfectly.  Note that the headset uses Bluetooth 1.2 (backwards compatible) for less wireless interference and faster connections.

It was very cool being able to walk down the street — or drive (New York is a hands-free-cell-phones-only-when-driving state) — on these bright summer days, wearing the Razrwire glasses and talking on the phone.

So far, so good.

Unfortunately, after a day’s worth of testing it was time to recharge the Bluetooth module’s batteries. The charger comes in the box, but unlike the Oakley MP3 glasses, the Razrwire glasses require you to separate the headset module from the frames in order to charge it. That's because the mini-USB port is hidden by the frames.

The batteries recharge quickly, but when you’re done you’re forced to re-attach and re-adjust the module on the frames over and over again. This is not the best of designs. Luckily, after a few recharging sessions you begin to get very good at knowing where the module goes, within a millimeter or two.

The Razrwire is priced at $294.99 and comes in three colors so far, a black version that matches the black RAZR phones as well as gold and a silvery gray. If you agree to a two-year cellular contract with Cingular, you can buy it for $199.99, but don't forget, you'll still need to buy a compatible phone if you don't already have one. It's not cheap, but that's a decent price for a pair of high-end Oakley sunglasses plus a modern-day Bluetooth headset.

The Razrwire is a product that takes a little getting used to, but it's worth the effort.