Introduction Motorcycling is a joy, even more so when the sun is shining and you’re out with a bunch of mates, it really is an experience that’s hard to describe... It just feels right and never seems to get old. When you’re driving a car, it’s easy to speak with the passengers who are with you, however that’s not exactly the same when on a motorcycle, be it that you have a pillion riding on the back, or you’re out riding with friends. There are many devices available for motorcyclists: Radio intercoms, Bluetooth intercoms and Bluetooth headsets etc... All of which range in price from and of course quality. We all know Bluetooth isn’t the best when it comes to long distances.  Whenever I talk about intercoms with other bikers, there’s always one major complaint “short distance for communications”. Typically cheaper Bluetooth intercoms have a short range at roughly half a mile, however the 20S can cover up to 1.2 miles (2 km) in an open area, which is pretty impressive for something that uses Bluetooth. Okay, so it may not be a range of 12 km which some other radio intercoms can achieve, however the 20S isn’t just an intercom, it’s much more and has plenty of features to offer. What's In The Box If you’re looking at getting the dual pack, double everything below: - Headset (main unit).* - Helmet Clamp (static boom mic & speakers already connected). - Wired Boom Mic. - Wired Mic. - Wind Shields for Microphones. - USB Cable (for charging & updating firmware). - Car Charger. - 2.5 - 3.5mm Stereo Audio Cable. - Adhesive Mounting Adaptor. - Rubber Pads. - Velcro Pads. - Speaker Pads. - Allen Key. It would have been nice to have a little storage case that could fit the main units in as well as the Allen key for safe storage. * I really like the design of the headset, it's small, slimline and is very lightweight.  It fits well and looks good when mounted onto a helmet. Product Features - Bluetooth 4.0. - 13 Hour Talk Time & 10 Day Stand-by Time. - Up to 1.2 Mile Intercom Range. - Group / Multi-way Intercom that can connect up to 8 people! - HD Quality Audio. - Audio Multitasking. - Voice Commands. - Music Sharing. - NFC (Quick pairing with compatible devices). - Bluetooth Audio Recording: (W/ Sena GP10-01 or GP10-02 Bluetooth Audio Pack). - Universal Intercom. - FM Radio Tuner. - Firmware Upgradable. - App Available. Headset ports: Micro-USB for charging & firmware upgrade. Helmet clamp ports: Headphone port so you can use your own* and an AUX port which allows you to plug in an MP3 player for example. * When you plug in your own headphones, they will have priority over the speakers.  You can remove the speakers if you want to do so. Helmet Attachment Set-Up This was a very easy and quick process, should take no more than 5 minutes: 1) Take-out the left side cheek pads of your helmet (this makes the installation much easier). 2) Get the helmet clamp and use the Allen key to loosen the bolts on the clamp, this will allow you to widen the clamp and slip it on to the side of your helmet. 3) Re-insert the cheek pads. 4) Place the speakers into the helmet into an appropriate spot. All helmets are different so you can place them underneath the cheek pads, inside an ear-piece pocket (not all helmets have), or in a crevasse so the speakers wont dig into your ears. Out of the three helmets used, all three helmets had space for the speakers to be placed. 5) Click the headset onto the clamp. If your helmet is unsuitable for the clamp alone, there is an adhesive mount included which can be used, however I've tried mounting the clamp on three different helmets and none requires the adhesive mount. Intercom & Smartphone Set-Up Intercom via the headsets: Very, very simple to set-up and there are two ways to pair them: 1) Turn on both headsets and shake them until both have green flashing LED's, then press the centre circular button (also known as the jog button) on either one of the headsets. 2) Turn on both headsets and hold both job buttons for 6 seconds. Then to start a connection between the two, on one of the headsets tap the jog button. Apparently you can have up to an eight-way conversation, however I couldn't test this as I only have two headsets. The quality you get from both headsets is absolutely superb. Smartphones / Bluetooth devices: The easiest and quickest way is to use NFC if your mobile has this feature. Simply place your devices NFC hotspot onto the back of the headset, within seconds the two should be paired. Alternatively hold the headsets phone button for 5 seconds, then search for "Sena 20S" on your smartphone. If it asks for a pin, type in "0000". With the 20S being connected to your smartphone, you can answer/make calls or listen to audio etc... Adjusting some of the settings is best done through the smartphone app. Product Usability The 20S is actually pretty simple to use and navigate around, be it by pressing the buttons or tapping the headset to activate the voice command mode. What takes time to get used to it knowing where the headset is on your helmet whilst wearing it, then the location of the buttons, and finally how to use it with gloves. Obviously the thicker the gloves the harder it is to feel what you're touching. In the end it's all down to a bit of practice. There are quite a few commands to remember, so do give the manual a good read. The voice command mode is a decent feature to have, all you have to do is tap the headset a few times to activate it, then you can call out a command such as "speed dial 1" or "music" etc... The commands aren't very specific, so you couldn't say "play King of Leon", you would need to select a song and pause it so when you activate it, it will select the music from where you last left off. It's no Siri from Apple's iOS, but it's still good enough to use. One feature I really liked was how easy it is to see how much battery is left. When you turn on the headset, there will be a series of red flashes, the more flashes there are the more battery is left: 2 Flashes = 0-30% | 3 Flashes = 30-70% | 4 Flashes = 70-100%. Sound Quality & Wireless Range I've been getting nothing but compliments from people who are on the receiving end of a phone call or intercom, as long as you place the microphone in an appropriate place (Shielded away from the wind), the quality is crystal clear. In fact I had speed dialled my friend and he had no idea I was outside riding my motorcycle. The speakers are also very good quality, obviously if you're on the receiving end of a phone call, the quality you're going to get will depend on the other persons microphone or phone. If you're communication with another Sena headset through the intercom feature, then you'll be amazed at how good the sound is (providing they have placed the microphone in the right place). If you're listening to music, don't expect it to be on par with some Beats headphones, however the sound is well above satisfactory. #TIP: When listening to music, bump up the volume to the max on your smartphone/device before adjusting it on the headset. Also, don't go overkill with loud music volume as taking away all the sound from your surroundings can make riding dangerous. Wireless range is pretty impressive, especially as this is a Bluetooth headset. Though there are factors which can effect the range quality: 1) Open space: This is where the range is at it's best, me and my friend at one point where really far apart, to the point we could barely see each other, yet could still communicate. 2) Objects in the way (e.g. buildings and trees): There were a few times when the headset had ceased to communicate with the other one; one was when we were a decent distance apart and I was coming into a bend, there were a lot of trees blocking the direct path to us both, this caused the headsets to stop communicating. Another example was when my friend rode around the other side of a bunch of houses, if they weren't there I have no doubt in the headsets connecting, but unfortunately disconnected. Though a good thing about this headset is if it disconnects due to lack of range, the headsets will reconnect when they come back in range of each other. Smartphone App The 'Sena Utility' App is available on both Apple's 'iTunes' & Android's 'Play Store'. It's not a perfect app, in fact it would do with a few touch-ups to make the app look cleaner looking. Nevertheless it does offer a variety of options to toggle: 1) My Device: View the connected devices model number, current firmware and whether it's up to date, plus a quick user guide. 2) Group Intercom: Organise different group intercom lists. 3) Pairing List: View paired devices. 4) Settings: - Basic Settings: VOX Phone, Sidetone, Audio Multi tasking & Intercom-audio Overall Sensitivity. - Speed Dial: Three pre-sets.* - FM Radio: Set-Up radio pre-sets. * It would have been nice to see a minimum of 5 pre-sets and an ability to name each one would be nice too. FM Radio If there's one area this product lacks in quality, it would have to be the FM radio feature. I'm not exactly a fan of listening to the radio, however there are a tonne of people who are. When using the FM Radio, you can manually skip through the different frequencies, start an automatic scan or use the app which will allow you to pre-set up to 10 different frequency bands of your choice. If you're riding, manually or automatically scanning isn't the best idea as it involves too much time with your hands pressing buttons. Unfortunately when testing this feature out it didn't seem to matter what I did, the signal was extremely poor.  After looking on the official forums I found out a lot of people have been having the same issues, whilst only a minority have had no issues. Sena are aware of this issue and are working on producing a firmware update to fix this. Final Opinion The 20S amazed me the first time I used it, yet I seem to love it more and more every time I use it. I'm also not the only who loves the 20S, I got a few friends to try out the 20S and they stated they'd be willing to pay the price tag to get one for themselves. I also want to add that when using these, there were several times when the weather decided to rain on us heavily, the headsets were completely fine during and after. This isn't a product you'll simply pick up and use once, it's something that can be used on a daily basis. Even if you're not using both headsets everyday, you can still use the one in conjunction with your mobile phone or other Bluetooth audio devices such as a GPS etc... Apart from when we were out of range, the connection between both headsets were consistently solid and experienced no drop-outs. Overall, it’s definitely a product I would recommend highly.
Posted: 07/07/2014
20S Bluetooth Headset
RRP: €269 (Single) €489 (Dual)
Pros:  + Long battery life (13hrs).  + Multitasking technology.  + Decent wireless range.  + Solid intercom connection.  + Multi-intercom connections.  + High quality mic & audio.  + Ease if use/set-up.  + Comfortable to use.  + Decent accessories included.  + A lot of features to offer.  + 2 Year warranty. Cons:  - Battery irreplaceable.  - App needs a bit of sprucing.  - FM radio reception is poor.  - Should have come with case.
Places to Buy: (EU) Manufacturer (UK) Amazon (US) Amazon
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