I reviewed the Jabra a few months ago for whatsoniphone and have been using it ever since. I love the sleek design, the ease of pairing, and most of all, the fact that the call quality is AWESOME!!!!
When I first did the review however, there was a significant feature that thanks to the iPhone’s limitations I could not test. Well, the HTC S740 that was the subject of Judie and Doug’s recent fight review is currently residing with me in New Jersey. Thanks to Doug I’m (briefly) using a Windows Mobile phone for the first time in years. It has been an interesting experiment that has, among other things, allowed me to try out this missing feature.
The original full review, as well as an additional section on this super fantastic feature, follows…
A few years ago I traded in my 4-5 minute commute to work for one that, on a good day, is at least a half hour. (And if the roads are even the slightest bit slick or the traffic a little heavy, it takes at least 45 minutes or more.) While I know that’s not a long commute by most people’s standards compared to 4-5 minutes it’s been a significant change. As a result, I try to keep my eye on traffic patterns and I do my best to make the most of the time in the car. Sometimes it means listening to music or catching up on podcasts but often it means being on the phone either with someone else or with Jott. Unfortunately, most of my driving between home and the office is on the highway and my Subaru Outback, while good with regard to helping ensure that I can get in when I need to, is pretty darn noisy. I’ve lost count of the number of times my assistant has told me that she could no longer hear me even though we had an excellent connection.
So since moving I’ve been on the lookout for a good hands-free system. I’ve found a number that are quite good but none that I really loved.
When it comes to a Bluetooth headset the best I’ve encountered thus far is the Etymotic etyBLU. When it comes to a wired solution I’m a huge fan of the Etymotic h2fs I reviewed last week. (No, I don’t work for Etymotic, I just love their products.) Thing is, I don’t love having to remember to charge the headset and bring it with me and I’m not thrilled to have a long cord running from the phone to my ear. Both solutions work but they fall short of being ideal.
What I really want is a Bluetooth speakerphone that automatically connects when I enter the car and sounds fantastic on both my, and the other person’s, end. I know there are excellent solutions that are built into many new cars now. That will be one of the prerequisites when I purchase my next car but hopefully that won’t be for a good number of years. So in the meantime I need a different solution.
I tried many different devices over the past few years and none of them worked all that well for me. Some were difficult to pair with my phone while others were constantly crackling even though the phone and the speaker were only a few feet apart. Others sounded good to me but the person on the other end could barely understand me. And other sounded good to the person on the other end but sounded lousy to me. I had all but given up hope of finding a portable option that was on par with the built-in ones… until last week.
I was in Costco the other day and walking through my favorite section of the store (yes of course it’s the electronics department) when I saw the Jabra SP700. It looked really cool and while that’s a stupid reason to think about buying a piece of electronics, when it comes to electronics I can be stupid. (And often am.) So I bought it. I bought it without doing any research, without checking reviews on it, and without even doing any price comparison shopping. (I told you, when it comes to electronics I can be stupid.)
So I threw out my money, right? Nope. This thing rocks.
This is by far the best Bluetooth speakerphone I have ever used. How good it is was clear from the minute I turned it on and it immediately announced (in a rather sexy British female voice, I might add) “pairing mode on”. I punch the four digit code into my iPhone and “British sexy voice” announced “connected”. (How far we have come since the early days of Bluetooth and the frustration of trying to pair devices.) Better yet, since I began using it, the re-pairing each time I enter the car is immediate and flawless. I get in the car, turn on the device, and I hear “British sexy voice” greets me with “connected”.
Since the iPhone’s Bluetooth is rather limited its really just good for making phone calls. Fortunately, the SP700 excels at making phone calls. Calls are crisp and clean, and the connection is consistently strong. In the middle of a conversation with my assistant the other day I asked her how the connection was on her end. She replied “Whatever it is you are using it is the best when you’ve had yet.” (And she knows I’ve gone through a lot of different attempts to get a good speaker phone.)
For this purpose alone I give the device high marks and think it’s worth every penny I spent on it. The fact is, however, it’s much more than just a Bluetooth speakerphone. The device has a built-in FM transmitter that allows the sound to be sent through the car’s stereo system rather than the devices built-in speaker. (I should note, however, that the built-in speaker is plenty powerful.) But that’s just the beginning. If your mobile phone’s Bluetooth isn’t crippled the way the iPhone’s is, you can use the SP700 as the conduit to stream music stored on your cell phone through your car stereo speakers. In other words, with your cell phone in your pocket the music stored there can be sent to the SP700 to the Bluetooth connection and the SP700 will then send it to the car stereo using its built-in FM transmitter. And if, in the middle of your favorite song, a call comes in, it’ll pick up the call and stop the music so that you can take the call by simply tapping the device. It’s simple, elegant, and it works well.
The fact is, however, it’s much more than just a Bluetooth speakerphone.
THE AWESOME, AMAZING, WOW I CAN’T BELIEVE I’VE BEEN MISSING THIS FEATURE (Thanks a lot Steve Jobs…)
The device has a built-in FM transmitter. What does that mean to you as the end-user? It means that if you are using a phone that supports both headset AND bluetooth stereo functionality it will activate both when initially pairing. (In other words, the current iPhone need not apply.) Then, if the handset is playing music, you simply press a button on the SP700 to activate the FM transmitter and tune the car stereo to the station sexy-British-Voice announces.
That allows the SP700 to serve as the conduit to stream music stored on your cell phone through your car stereo speakers. In other words, with your cell phone in your pocket the music stored there can be sent to the SP700 to the Bluetooth connection and the SP700 will then send it to the car stereo using its built-in FM transmitter. And if, in the middle of your favorite song, a call comes in, it’ll pick up the call and stop the music so that you can take the call by simply tapping the device. It’s simple, elegant, and it works well.
How well? I tried it today and was blown away by both the quality of the sound and the power/strength of the signal. In the past I have tried FM transmitters and found that, because I live in a densely populated area in which the airwaves are crowded, the signal would suffer tremendous interference. Not so here as the signal was crystal clear the ENTIRE time I was driving. There was not one moment when the signal degraded a bit. It was amazing… and convenient.
What does it mean for me? Not much for now. In another day or two I’ll be going back to my iPhone. But when OS iPhone 3.0, and its support for stereo bluetooth, is released… I’ll be cutting the cords in the car for good.
Finally, I really appreciate the fact that Jabra ships the SP700 with a car charger and wall adapter so you have a choice of where you charge the device.
Other things of note-
The speakerphone is fully charged 2 hours
The buttons are simple to use.
The DSP noise reduction & echo cancellation REALLY works
What I Like:
“Sexy British Voice”
What I Don’t:
Unusual USB plug
Would I buy again: ABSOLUTELY! I Love This Thing!