Review: Jawbone Bluetooth headset

Review: Jawbone Bluetooth headset

Summary: With only four days to go before the iPhone feeding frenzy I wanted to take a look at what will certainly be a popular accessory: the Jawbone bluetooth headset (US$119) from Aliph.The Jawbone is being carried by AT&T wireless and can also be purchased direct from Aliph and from various Internet retailers.

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TOPICS: BT, Apple, Hardware, iPhone
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Jawbone Bluetooth HeadsetWith only four days to go before the iPhone feeding frenzy I wanted to take a look at what will certainly be a popular accessory: the Jawbone bluetooth headset (US$119) from Aliph.

The Jawbone is being carried by AT&T wireless and can also be purchased direct from Aliph and from various Internet retailers.

I've been using a Jawbone headset for about a month now with my Treo 700p and there are some things that you should know about it.

PROS The original feature that drew me to the Jawbone was its amazing Noise Shield technology. Its based on highly directional microphones and powerful signal processing algorithms that remove background noise from the outbound signal sent from the headset. This feature is truly amazing works as advertised in the demo video on the Jawbone Web site.

On many BT headsets that I've used the speaker is just too quiet, even at their loudest volume levels. The speaker inside the Jawbone is plenty loud when used with my Treo 700p and automatically adjusts based on the other person's volume level. It can also be adjusted manually by pressing the Noise Shield button.

CONS Battery life is poor. Jawbone delivers "up to" 6 hours of talk time. If you're a long talker plan on charging your Jawbone every night. Aliph claims 120 hours of standby time.

I find the Jawbone difficult to get on my ear quickly, which can be annoying when the phone is ringing and it's in my pocket or not attached to my ear. This problem was minimized by switching to one of larger ear loops (Jawbone includes four) but it's still not easy. I used to just toss my Jabra JX10 into my ear (sans earloop) but the larger size of the Jawbone makes using an earloop a requirement. (I raved about the Jabra JX10 in October 2006.)

One major annoyance is the power off sound. If you press and hold the power button (hidden beneath the perforated grill) a high-decibel three second shrill tells you that the headset is off. Is that entirely necessary? It's near deafening and will cause ear damage. It's so loud when the earbud is in your ear that I've resorted to taking it off before powering it down.

Jawbone is further handicapped by a proprietary charger cable. You have to remove an unattached port cover (which is easily lost) to access the four pin charging connector on the unit. If you leave the cable at home you can forget about using Jawbone after it runs out of juice. What can't these vendors switch to something universal like a mini USB connector? The only saving grace is that the other end of the wall charger is a USB connection so that you can charge it from your notebook computer – if you remember to bring the cable.

To sum up, Jawbone has impressive sound and noise canceling, admirable qualities for a BT headset, but some of its other annoyances make it less than desirable. If you're only concern is sound quality and/or using your phone in areas with a lot of background noise then you may be willing to make the tradeoff.

The Jawbone is available in black, silver, and red from most AT&T Wireless stores and on Friday from the Apple store.

Topics: BT, Apple, Hardware, iPhone

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9 comments
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  • So good that I have [b]TWO[/b]

    I own two of these Jawbones. It's the first bt headset that is "Girlfriend" approved meaning that she doesn't ask me to put her on handset. I also do tons of business calls using this, and it sounds just like a landline. Finally, the output quality (from the Jawbone to my ear) is loud enough so that I'm not wishing for more volume like I usually am with other bt headsets. In fact, I often have to lower the volume.

    I've gone through probably 6-8 bt headsets.

    Yes, battery life isn't incredibly long. That's why I have 2. I keep one fully charged. It's not that short, though, either. If I'm doing a lot of 1-2 hour conference calls, it'll pretty much die between con call #2 and #3. But that's fine.

    -Mike
    petonic@...
  • Jawbone

    I agree with the Jawbone being difficult to get on in a hurry. However after using one for six months, you develop a skill for getting it done. I've never noticed the loud tone when turning it off, probably because I never turn it off while it's still in my ear.

    The Jawbone is the most comfortable Bluetooth headset I've ever had, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's also the first headset I've actually been able to hear a conversation well on and the other party be able to understand me for more than two or three words at a time. There are times my room mate has to remind me to take it off late in the evening.

    I would also like to add a small tidbit about Aliph's customer service. It's excellent. I pulled a dumb out and managed to snap the changeable ear piece off. It would still install and work, but would pop off -- I broke one of the tabs off. Aliph replaced it quickly. The only problem was slow communication.
    mudlogger
    • Trick to putting it on in a hurry...

      I had that problem when I started using the Jawbone. Then I figured out the trick to doing it: Don't try to attach it by shoving the earbud into your ear canal first then maneuvering the earclip over the ear--that's well-nigh impossible as the design of the earclip results in your ear cartilage getting in the way. Instead, first rotate the Jawbone so it's vertical on the side of your face (like the number 1 or lowercase 'l'), then hook the tail of the spring-loaded Jawbone earclip over the top of the ear and rotate the Jawbone back so it's horizontal (like a minus sign or hyphen) on the side of your face. As you rotate the Jawbone to the horizontal, the earbud automatically slots into place in the ear canal just as the earclip slides snugly behind your ear cartilage for optimum fit. With practice, I've found that I can transfer the Jawbone from my trouser pocket and attach it to my ear in about 3 seconds with one smooth move without having to monkey with it afterwards once attached. Hope this helps.
      Macs4EaseOfUse
  • Jawbone

    Bought it before an extended trip to Manhatten. Best headset I ever found for environments that go from extremely noisy to mildly noisy. Headset must be fitted but doesn't fall off my ears like the Moto headsets or hurt my ears like the Plantronics. Best battery life of any bluetooth headset I have used. Used the Headset extensively with my KRZR and had zero problems. Used the Headset eith my Treo 650 and ended up with the same frustration of using any bluetooth headset with a Treo.

    Like the author I am not happy with the custom plug, but I leave it connected to my laptop and charge it through the USB, even while traveling.

    Only negative is 3 young men in a downtown San Francisco office who were acting "catty" mentioned it makes you look like a Borg.

    Why you should consider it, is because every ATT store manager has one. What do they know that we don't? They know what the best product in the store and they use it.
    messino
  • Jawbone

    Bought it before an extended trip to Manhatten. Best headset I ever found for environments that go from extremely noisy to mildly noisy. Headset must be fitted but doesn't fall off my ears like the Moto headsets or hurt my ears like the Plantronics. Best battery life of any bluetooth headset I have used. Used the Headset extensively with my KRZR and had zero problems. Used the Headset eith my Treo 650 and ended up with the same frustration of using any bluetooth headset with a Treo.

    Like the author I am not happy with the custom plug, but I leave it connected to my laptop and charge it through the USB, even while traveling.

    Only negative is 3 young men in a downtown San Francisco office who were acting "catty" mentioned it makes you look like a Borg.

    Why you should consider it, is because every ATT store manager has one. What do they know that we don't? They know what the best product in the store is and they use it.
    messino
    • Borg???

      Tell them that "Resistance is futile" and that "they will be assimilated." :-)
      Macs4EaseOfUse
  • Grammar Police - Apostrophe Division

    Jason, it's [i]its[/i], as in [i]its amazing Noise Shield technology[/i].
    marco@...
    • Guilty as charged, what's the fine?

      I've got a habit of mis-using "it's" and did it *twice* in this piece.

      Duly noted and corrected Sir.

      Now, can you let me off with just a warning?

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
  • RE: Review: Jawbone Bluetooth headset

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    woodapple