Underrated Tech: Moto Hint Proves Form Factor Makes All the Difference

Underrated Tech: Moto Hint Proves Form Factor Makes All the Difference

There is one device that I use every day that few people even know is there. And that’s precisely why it’s so good at what it does — the Motorola Moto Hint is the most discreet wearable I’ve used, and its usefulness is often overlooked.

What is special about the Moto Hint? Most would classify it as just another bluetooth headset, and in terms of functionality, it mostly is: the Moto Hint does function like almost any other bluetooth headset or earbud, with a capacitive button-like surface activating Google Now for good measure. Other than that, the Moto Hint allows for many of the hands-free capabilities of other bluetooth speakers. The fundamental difference comes with its form factor.

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The Hint fits in the ear cozily and perfectly, and only the observant notice it outright

The Moto Hint is a sole earbud piece; at first, I wished it was two pieces, but the purpose of the Hint is certainly not listening to music. The speaker quality blasting inside your ear will not properly render the majesty of your music playlists, but it’s not designed to make you stop using your headphones.

Rather, it is there so that you can start using your phone more, anywhere. This is where the Moto Hint’s user experience is derived from the form factor.

Because it fits so nicely and is so comfortable, you may forget it’s even there

The Hint fits in the ear cozily and perfectly, with a small protrusion that only the observant notice outright. The earpiece doesn’t block outside audio despite the fact that it covers most of your ear, and because it fits so nicely and is so comfortable, you may forget it’s even there. That is the brilliance of the Hint: it’s discreet and nondescript to the point the wearer himself forgets he has a speaker in his ear, and unlike traditional bluetooth headsets, it does not have the same social interaction impairment. You won’t look any different unlike the appearence provided by other bluetooth headsets or facial wearables.

While it is the same as other bluetooth headsets in that it redirects all audio to your ear, this is the first bluetooth headset I feel comfortable wearing all day, both socially and ergonomically. The result is the ability to play any audio, at any time, regardless of the social context you find yourself in. If, for example, you quickly want to check out a video without bothering those around you, then you won’t have to get out of your way (or someone else’s) to do so — if you wear your Hint often, you can listen to that on the spot without taking out headphones for it. And because of the Hint’s design and form factor, chances are it’s already in your ear when your need it most.

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This small earbud is great for all situations, as you can always leave it there. I personally use it for audiobooks and podcasts when walking to and from campus, or when walking to a place to shop for groceries, or when doing house chores. If watching videos in class is your thing, this is your product — nobody will be able to tell you aren’t listening to the lecture. I’ve used it numerous times in situations where pulling out a set of earbuds just for a quick video, or hands-free phonecall, would have been impractical.

The Hint’s form factor virtues and uniqueness stretch past just the actual earbud, though. Very much like with the Moto 360, Motorola introduced a smart and practical charging solution that also helps you protect the Hint. The charging tube allows for multiple charges of the earbud, which already lasts around 3 hours of actual usage (typically a full day on one charge).

A new take on an age-old product can dramatically change the resulting experience

With the tube, you can stretch the charge time to a week or so, and it also helps you protect the Hint and store it in a place where you will never forget it. You can strap the tube to your keychain, for example, to make sure the Hint’s with you every time you leave the house. And like all sliding pieces of tech, opening and closing it is kind of addicting.

Personally speaking, it’s a little saddening that this product didn’t get much success anywhere, yet it remains the most inventive bluetooth earbud I’ve tried. Motorola nailed the user experience with this form factor, which mostly succeeds at what it aims to do — in the best of cases, people don’t notice it, and in the worst of scenarios, they think you have hearing aid. But the usefulness of the Hint comes with the fact that it’s comfortable, ubiquitous and always there when you need it most.

In a world where wearables like Glass failed for lacking these qualities, the Hint shows that a new take on an age-old product can dramatically change the resulting experience, and that form factor and design sometimes make all the difference between a product you use situationally and one that you want with you at every moment.

 

What is your favorite piece of underrated tech? Let us know in the comments down below!

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