I've been wanting a pair of Senas for the wife and me ever since I saw them. Unfortunately, the bike budget always seems blown due to higher priority things :-(
I've been looking at Amazon, and there are several generic BT in helmet headsets available - most of which seem to get favorable reviews. On a lark, I decided to try one. Based on the Amazon reviews, I picked the FreedConn TCOM-SC
for $50. The wife and I rode to Nashville and back over the weekend, so I got to test the basic functionality out. I thought I'd report here.
First, I should mention that my bar for acceptance was pretty low: decent battery life, receive phone calls, hearing the lady in my phone that tells me where to go, and as an intercom wife my wife on the back seat. I wasn't looking for the ability to join several headsets, or to interact with the bike handlebar control or other devices. I also don't intend to listen to music over the headset.
So what's the verdict? TL;DR version: well worth $50. So far, I'm happy.Mounting the unit, speakers and mic:
The unit comes with two ways to attach to your helmet: a clamp on holder, and an adhesive backed holder. I used the clamp on holder. It doesn't clamp tight enough to lock the holder in place - it can still move a bit, but it does feel secure - it isn't going to fall off. Mounting the speakers and mic were a snap. The speakers attach via adhesive velcro pads. You figure out where they need to go, attach the pads, then attach the speakers. The speakers, while thin, are thick enough that I can feel the slightly additional pressure of the liner against my ears - but just barely. The length of the mic boom is perfect.Audio quality:
Audio quality from Waze and google maps on my phone was good - even at 70+ MPH. Volume was no problem. You can make it loud enough to be painful. Even though I don't intend on using this device to listen to music, I did test it out with Spotify on my phone. Audio quality is acceptable, but obviously bass response is limited. With my helmet and windshield, listening to music worked well up to about 50MPH. Above that, wind noise started to swamp the music. At 70MPH, forget it. Obviously, since I only bought one, I couldn't test the intercom feature, but based on the clarity of the Waze and google maps voices, I expect that the intercom function will be perfectly usable. I'm ordering one for the wife tonight, so I'll be testing that out soon.Usability:
I had no problem pairing with my phone, and once paired, it always connects as soon as I turn it on. Operation is fairly simple - there is a power button, and a jog dial with a button in the middle. Gloved hands have no problem with the controls. Twisting the jog dial forward and holding reduces the volume. Twisting back and holding increases the volume. Hitting the button once accepts an incoming call, hitting it twice hangs up, and holding it down redials the last number you dialed. There is no way (AFAIK) to do hands free calling from the headset controls - at least on an iPhone. If you hold the phone's home button down, you can do dial by voice by speaking into the helmet mic. It's workable, but at least on my phone holder setup, it is a bit awkward. But, then again, if I'm going to make a call, I'm stopping anyway.
When listening to music, twisting the jog dial forward or back and releasing it goes to the next or previous track. Hitting the button pauses the music.
I used it for four hours Saturday and four hours Sunday, and the battery charge indicator still showed good charge when I got home. Downsides:
The only downside so far that I see is that the USB charging connector is proprietary. If it gets lost or damaged, I don't think I can replace it. Buying another unit for the wife will at least give us two cables.