The stern British lady who explained each function of the Interphone might sound annoying, but it was actually quite helpful and got us chatting with less time spent buried in the manual. It’s downhill after that, unfortunately. The sound clarity is good but not great, and the volume didn’t go quite high enough for our plugged ears. Slightly unrefined hardware made the Interphone wires tricky to hide in the nooks of a helmet, and hard-edged speakers had our ears aching after a long day. We also struggled—and ultimately failed—to connect with as many riders as promised in the manual. Battery life was thoroughly acceptable at around 10 hours of usage time, but at the end of its charge the British woman constantly issued firm warnings that the system should soon be plugged in. Pipe down, lady, you’re killing the battery!
Chatterbox X1 Slim
The X1 Slim is Chatterbox’s (and this comparison’s) most expensive, highest powered, and longest range offering, and it excels at all of those things. It offers tremendous range (over a mile, even through obstructions), and loud, clear sound from the speakers. The X1 Slim also uses a simple knob for on/off and volume, which is refreshing compared to fiddling with small, rubber-clad buttons. However, the system works like a walkie-talkie, where only one person can talk at once, which means either using the voice-activation feature (VOX), or pushing a button when you want to speak. Neither option works well or is acceptable considering the competition offers the ability to speak and be heard at will, and even talk at the same time. The unit itself is also clunky and relatively heavy, so it won’t slip in a jeans pocket when the helmet is locked to a bike. It is undeniably more powerful than any other system we tested, but it constantly reminded us that it is an evolution of older tech rather than something new, which puts it at the bottom of our list.
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