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.
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.
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.
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.