The SENA 20S is the newest bluetooth intercom to enter the market taking the top spot on the SENA line from the popular SENA SMH10. The 20S is both a helmet to helmet communicator as well as a bluetooth headset for a multitude of other accessories like a phone, gps or radar detector.
The first thing that you need to do after you receive your unit is to register it, and update the firmware. My unit came with firmware version 1.0 a simple update brought it to 1.1.1. The supplied USB cable and downloadable firmware update software is available HERE.
Mounting the unit to your helmet is not the easiest thing to do, and took about 25 min from start to finish. I chose the clamp on mount and was easily able to put the mount between the shell and liner of the helmet. Wire length is ample, I was easily able to tuck the excess between the interior liner and outer liner of the helmet.
20S vs SMH10
The 20S boasts improvements in both appearance, functionality and features over the SMH10. The first thing you will notice is the new sleeker appearance that incorporates a larger jog dial with a new button placed in the center. The speakers, while the same size as the older version now have a chrome ring around them. Something you will never see again after mounting.
A full detailed comparison of the models is available here on SENA’s website, but I will outline the big changes here. SENA comparison chart
The 20S boasts 2000m (1.24 miles) of range on the intercom compared to the SMH10's 900m (.55 miles) of range. This is in part thanks to the collapsible antenna on the 20S. The 20S triples its amount of intercom pairing from 3 units to 9, has fm radio, voice commands and audio multitasking. The biggest step forward for SENA is the iphone/droid app that the user can connect to the 20S to change settings.
One weak point on the SMH10 was its mounting pins. On the 20S SENA has addressed this issue by making them flat contact patches that are not prone to wearing or bending.
The microphone on the 20S is by far the best at noise cancelling of any microphone I have tested. It flawlessly blocks ambient noise including wind, exhaust and other vehicles. Included in the package are 3 microphones. The standard boom microphone, wired boom microphone, and wired microphone. I found that using the wired microphone worked well for the full face dual sport helmet I chose to test the kit in.
SENA supplies 2 mounting options; a standard clamp mount and a 3m adhesive mount. Included are 3 microphone styles, a car charger, USB cord, 2.5 to 3.5mm stereo audio cable, allen wrench and an assortment of Velcro and rubber pads for mounting. We found the supplied accessories to be a nice feature that some manufactures tend to leave for the consumer to purchase.
Voice Commands are a new feature to the 20S, and there are two ways to access them; by saying “hello SENA” or by double tapping on the body of the unit. Double tapping on the body of the unit worked well, but required a hard double tap that seemed a little excessive prior to the firmware update. The strength of the sensor is adjustable in firmware update 1.1.1. Once in the voice command menu everything seemed to work well, and we only noticed slight hiccups when starting or stopping music using the voice commands.
Iphone or Android app
The new SENA phone app is simple to use. Simply turn on bluetooth on the device and connect to the 20S like normal. Then open the SENA app where you can easily change the settings, view the manual or quick start guide. While using the app I had no problems manipulating speed dial numbers, radio stations, or the other options. App screens shown below:
The 20S (MSRP $299.99) and the SMH10 (MSRP $209.00) are both excellent units. Based on my initial testing there were 3 features I grew to love. The first was the ability to manipulate settings in the iphone app via bluetooth. The second was the 2000m of range for intercom. At this time I have not measured maximum distance to see if this claim is accurate. The third feature that I like is the FM radio. An added benefit is the ability to type in the channels you want via the app.
I am very pleased with the unit so far, and after I get over the learning curve I’m sure I will like it even more. For now I'm carrying the quick start guide as a cheat sheet in my pocket.
Is it worth it?
From the short time I've had the headset I have been impressed. The added cost to upgrade to the 20S vs the SMH10 is worth it in my opinion.
Written by Jacob Roby (OklahomaKLR), Contributing Editor for Spirit Strike.