Jaybird Sportsband Review

Jaybird has brought out some good stuff in the last year. The last two things I checked out were the Tigereyes and Endorphin Rush wired headphones. I liked them a lot. This time, Jaybird sent me their new Bluetooth headset, the Sportsband. Is it as good as their original headset? In a word, no.

The Sportsband uses a much more robust construction when compared to the original headset. It is a rigid band of plastic that wraps around your head. It doesn’t squeeze my head too much and is very comfortable.  The controls were easy to operate both on and off my head.  It was easy to change volume or skip tracks and turn the headset on and off.  The buttons did not feel cheap at all.

The thing that concerns me a bit is that this headset is advertised for use by athletes during their workout. During a active run or a basketball game it will not stay on your head. For that I would go back to in ear style headphones, as they are lighter and stay in your ear better under a vigorous workout.

The Sportsband easily paired with my G1. After this it all goes downhill. When you get the audio to play, it plays “okay” until you switch applications or you get a call. When I got a call, the audio stopped and I would take the call. When the music started back up, if it started, it stuttered like crazy. This also happened when I switched audio apps. I initially thought it was because I run Cyanogen’s ROM, but I tried another Bluetooth device, and it was fine when switching apps; this is a problem with my Sportsband.  Today I thought everything was okay and it was working well, and then it inexplicably disconnected and would not connect back to the G1 until the headset was powered off.

One thing I was able to do with this headset that I had not been able to do with others is pair it with my netbook and get it working with A2DP on Ubuntu. Granted, this may be because great strides have been made with Ubuntu and the Linux Kernel since my last review with regards to Bluetooth support. The version I used during my review is Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala”.

When the audio worked, sound quality wise, it was acceptable. It’s not great, but it’s good enough for workout music and podcasts. It also had pretty decent bass response as well, giving a satisfying thump in my ears. Call quality was good as well. I had no complaints from my son when he called me as I was trudging through the snow.

The headset charges via any USB port with the included cable.  Once charged, battery life is as advertised with the headphones lasting about 6-8 hours of music.

Jaybird has an interesting concept here.  These are likely more durable than their previous headset.  However they have taken a step backward with the Bluetooth radio and audio quality.

The Sportsband SB-1 is available direct from Jaybird for $89.00.

I want to thank Jaybird for sending these out and I was allowed to keep this sample.

Update: The device I tested to make sure it was the headset and not the G1 was the Cyfi Bike Speaker that I reviewed last year.  This worked as expected.

Update 2: Had some conversations with Jaybird and there may possibly be some incompatibilities with the G1.  This would be the first I have ever heard of a problem with the G1 and headphones.  I did some more testing with a Motorola V950 to confirm this and this worked much better than the G1.  So I would warn you that if you have a G1, you may want to try other headphones.

What I liked: Durable construction.  Easy to pair up with my phone.

What needs improvement: Sound quality was okay when it connected but the headset was the worst I have ever reviewed with disconnects and other strange issues when switching apps that plagued the review period.  Updated: This could be a incompatibility with the G1 however I can’t really confirm this.  The G1 works 90 percent of the time.  It just flakes out at times and can only be recovered by powering the headset off then back on.  The G1 does support A2DP and AVRCP.  I do not know what the issue is with the Sportsband.  Other bluetooth devices work fine with the G1.

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  1. Allistair Lee
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