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Review CellularLine Interphone - Bluetooth Intercom

23
January
2007
  Posted at 02:31:29 PM
  File under  Bluetooth Gadgets Product Review
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

Read the special articles on Bluetooth and motorcycles:



CellularLine Interphone box
CellularLine Logo
Italian manufacturer CellularLine has an interesting Bluetooth communication device for motorcycles.

On paper, the device looks very interesting and well developed. Bluetooth intercom or Bluetooth bike-to-bike and Bluetooth telephone.

What more would you want in a reasonably priced package? Being able to communicate with a pillion passenger, or with a buddy riding another motorcycle is a quest many of us have undertaken. Finding the right device can take many tries, and often a lot of money to get right.

Therefore, to help you in your selection, here is a review of the CellularLine Interphone:

The mailman brought a big box to my house consisting of the CellularLine Interphone. When I opened the package I found the two Interphone boxes (you do need two to communicate with a pillion, one if you only need it to phone) and an additional spare headset. The packaging looks good and professional.


Content


Inside the box you'll find the following:


CellularLine Interphone box content

1 = Bluetooth communication module
2 = Headset and microphone, plus velcro strip
3 = Screw on module for Bluetooth module (#1)
4 = Glued on module for Bluetooth module (#1)
5 = Battery Charger
6 = Screwdriver
7 = Long Screws
8 = Thickness adapter, depending on helmet thickness
9 = Multilingual manual

Installation


CellularLine Interphone box on C2
CellularLine Interphone box on C2
You have the choice of using screws or glue to fix the Bluetooth device to your helmet. Don't worry, the screws aren't meant to screw INTO the helmet. If you're helmet is too thick, you can use the thickness adapter (#8) and longer screws (#7) - see below for further information.

I tried installing the unit with screws on my (spanking new) Schuberth C2 helmet, but couldn't wedge it into the helmet, so ended up using the sticky pad. I made sure that I applied at least 5 minutes of pressure, and it looks like it's holding strongly.

CellularLine Interphone Microphone/Headset in C2
Installing the loudspeaker and attached microphone is easy. The easiest way of doing it, is put your helmet on, then squeeze the microphone/loudspeaker to your ear. Once it's there, hold the microphone firmly against the side of the helmet while pulling the helmet off. The loudspeaker should be in the correct position.

Now you take the piece of velcro (#2) supplied, peel of the paper, and hold it in the place where your loudspeaker is. Simple. You just need to make sure that it's not too far away from the Bluetooth unit, since the cable is very short.

NOTE
to CellularLine... you might want to increase the cable by 1 centimeter, since plugging it in the unit is a bit tight.

You're ready to go.

Screw in Unit


CellularLine Interphone on Roof Boxer
I tried using the screw unit on my Roof Boxer helmet, and that was easy as Larry.

Unscrew the attachment (#3) (with supplied screwdriver), and insert the long small piece into the side of your helmet. It will go as deep as your helmet, thereby securing the unit nicely.

When you put the big part of the attachment (the bit that houses the Bluetooth unit) to the side strip, if there's an angle, it means your helmet is too wide, and you'll need to use the thickness adapter (#8).

For my Roof helmet, I needed the adapter. Just insert it in-between the side strip and the main attachment piece, and you're in business.



CellularLine Interphone on Roof Boxer
With the thickness adapter you'll be able to adapt the attachment to almost any helmet. If you can't slide the thin piece in (like with my C2 or my wife BMW Evo 4), use the sticky tape version.

The red arrow shows you the thickness adapter in place.

Note
: If your helmet has a flip up chin piece, make sure it's closed before fitting the attachment ! You light get a nasty surprise if you don't (you can guess how I know this).

Pairing


As with all Bluetooth devices you need to pair it (ie have it recognize each other)

Phone


Pairing it with my Bluetooth phone (HP iPaq 6915) was very easy. Follow the instructions in the sequence of pushing the buttons on your Bluetooth module, allow your phone to discover BT devices, enter the code ('0000'), and it's done !

Intercom


Pairing the unit to another CellularLine Interphone unit can be a bit finicky, specially since the instructions are a bit contradicting (English version). Here's how you do it.

  1. With both units off, press the multi-function button of unit 1 for 5 seconds until you hear a second beep.
  2. Do the same for unit 2.
  3. Both will be flashing a red and blue led.
  4. Press the Volume + button of unit 1 for 5 seconds. You'll first hear a beep followed by a few seconds later a series of 4 beeps.
  5. Unit 1 is automatically powered off.
  6. Power on the unit 1 by pressing the multi-function button until the led goes on, and you hear a beep.
  7. Press the Volume - button of unit 2 for 5 seconds. You'll first hear a beep followed by a few seconds later a series of 4 beeps.
  8. Unit 1 is automatically powered off.
  9. Power on the unit 1 by pressing the multi-function button until the led goes on, and you hear a beep.
  10. Wait 5 seconds

You're ready to communicate.

GPS


If you have a GPS that can communicate using Bluetooth, you will be able to pair it with your Interphone. However, as with the phone, you have only one channel available to communicate at the same time, so you'll need to switch between intercom and GPS.

NOTE
: If you want to have a Bluetooth Phone AND a Bluetooth GPS, it is not possible to pair both with the Interphone. It is only possible if your GPS can handle the telephone conversation (like TomTom's Rider), or if you have a mobile telephone that has an integrated GPS (like HP iPaq 6915 or 6945).

Communicating


Phone


Simple. When the phone rings, say anything you want (like "Hello"). The phone is answered automatically. Calling out, just dial your number. If your phone accepts voice recognition for dialing, that should work as well (but I couldn't test it since my phone doesn't have that feature).

Intercom


  1. Power on both units by pressing the multi-function key for a few seconds until you hear a beep and the blue led flashes.
  2. On one unit only, press the multi-function key again for a few seconds until you hear a 2nd beep and both units' LEDs start flashing blue rapidly (the other unit will hear a beep signalling that it's ready to communicate). Both units are now in active intercom mode.

To stop communicating, press the multi-function key until you hear a beep. The Bluetooth units are on, but NOT communicating.

To restart communication, press one of the multi-function keys for a few seconds until you hear a 2nd beep.

Charging


The Bluetooth module is charged with a charger (#5) that is supplied with the box. The plug goes into the same "hole" where you put your microphone/loudspeaker. Charging is amazingly fast (<3 hours for a full charge).

Turn Off Interphone


Turning off the CellularLine Interphone is accomplished by pressing the multi-function key until you hear a third beep. The led turns red for a few seconds and then powers down.

First Test Rider-Phone


Phone Usage


The first test was me alone, and the Bluetooth phone. I drove away on my BMW R1150GS, and left instructions with my wife to call me in 5 minutes. While riding, I could hear the phone in the loudspeaker. All you have to do is say a single word (like "HELLO"). It doesn't matter if your phone has voice recognition or not, it's the CellularLine Interphone that when it hears a sound from you, it answers the phone !! Very nifty.  If you don't say anything after a few seconds, the call is ignored.

Volume Level


Volume level was excellent ! My Schuberth C2 helmet is very noisy (wind noise, not traffic/engine noise), but the Interphone came across loud and clear, even too loud, so I turned down the volume. In fact, you can use the Interphone with earplugs by setting the volume to the highest level ! You can change volume while riding.

My wife thought I had stopped and had turned off the engine, since there was no noise coming from the phone. Communication was crystal clear !

Second Test Rider-Pillion


Intercom


After following the instructions to activate both units, we were able to communicate without any problems. Virtually no noise was heard over the engine roar or wind flow, and we were able to have a normal conversation.

Again, sound quality was excellent, and volume level can be changed without a problem. Even if you're half deaf (like me), you can still hear it well enough. Not many manufacturers make available a really high volume level. CellularLine do ! Just watch out that you don't make yourself deaf...

The communication is full-duplex, so no need to wait until the other is finished talking.

When I picked up speed (and therefore wind noise), the volume level picked up as well. The more noise there is, the higher the volume level.

Note
: It's nice to be able to communicate more than the normal 10 meters... going to the gas station, and SWMBO goes off and pays (with her helmet on), I was still able to talk to her and ask her to buy some chocolate....

Third Test Rider-Rider


The third test was my wife on her Suzuki and me on my BMW riding around the countryside. Before, we used walkie-talkies, since my wife hasn't gotten comfortable riding on her own, and doesn't have the street smarts.

Using the CellularLine Interphone was very handy. No messing around with a walkie-talkie, PTT switches, leads, etc. Just put on your helmets and active the Interphones.

Reach


The distance the units should be able to communicate is advertised to be 150 meters. On the winding roads of Normandy, in winter (humid) 100 meters is about all we could get without the conversation breaking up. We once on a flat field did go up to about 200 meters.

If you loose the connection, once you're in reach, you pick up where you left, no need to press any buttons.

Probably in the summer, with dry weather, the reach will be better, but 100 meters is still very good.

Gotchas


A couple of points, most of them related to Bluetooth operation, not CellularLine deficiencies.
  • Only one channel is active at a time. So you choose intercom, phone or GPS, but not all three at the time with priority interrupts. If you want that, you'll need a dedicated (and more expensive) intercom communicator (like Chatterbox, Autocom or Intaride).
  • No stereo music. If your phone plays music, it should work, but not stereo. However, since you're able to increase the volume level to very high, you should be able to wear earplugs attached to your iPod...
  • You can only pair to one Interphone (again remember, you only have one channel). This means if you're using it for bike-to-bike, you can only communicate with one other bike, not to a group.
  • You can only pair an Interphone with another Interphone. So if you're pillion or riding buddy has a Cardo or another Bluetooth intercom, it will not work !
  • Bluetooth is very much line-of-sight. If there's something in between you and the other Interphone, your conversation will break up. So, if you're riding on the road, and there's a truck in between, chances are the conversation will be messy.

Conclusion


I'm quite happy with the CellularLine Interphone ! It's light, it doesn't drag on my helmet and the sound quality is excellent. In contrast with most Bluetooth communication devices that are limited to 10 meter range, this unit can actually be used for bike-to-bike.

We've been running the units for about 6 hours nonstop, and did not need to charge, so speak time looks good enough for a long trip.

The limitations pointed out above are Bluetooth limitations, not CellularLine. If you're looking for more that this, you're only option is a dedicated intercom box which communicates Bluetooth to your helmet (like BMW DCS1, Schuberth's Bluesonic, etc). But that will cost you at least €500 for the unit, and you'll still need a Bluetooth headset/microphone.

CellularLine also have available an extra headset/microphone, plus attachments, in case you have multiple helmets, but don't want to change the whole setup each time you switch. Just plug in the Bluetooth communication device into the other helmet(s).

Price: Around €168-189, depending on local tax, per unit.
Availability; Now, worldwide.

Click here for more information.





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