I admit I love wearing Bluetooth headsets for phone conversations (in the privacy of my car). However to wear them publicly, you have to get past the cyborg ribbing and the crazy look that people give you from looking at you like you’re talking crazy. Truth be told, most Bluetooth headsets are not worth the humiliation, let alone the intended quality. After using several Bluetooth headsets (or ear roaches), there are three that I like that perform double duty previously reviewed here, here and here; the rest are a waste of good money.
I think a majority of people would enjoy the freedom that a headset would provide. Two hands on a steering wheel, voice dialing, less face grease on a phone… I’m just talking about in car use only. In public? – There are social rules: never in a restaurant, at the movie theatre, and please, when you’re not talking to anyone, take that thing off. The blinking light is reminiscent of a blinkety blink blink clock on a VCR – 12:00, 12:00, 12:00 – we got it!
Photo courtesy of Aliph
However, there is a Bluetooth headset that gets it right in several ways – the Aliph Jawbone.
I’ve been using the Jawbone for about a month and simply put, the Jawbone sets the standard for Bluetooth headsets – period. Bluetooth + Jawbone = A Perfect Match.
One of the main complaints spoken or unspoken from the recipient of a headset conversation is the quality of the call. Muffling, background noises, static, and “bottom of the barrel” sound are common complaints. From the caller’s perspective is the sound quality of the earpiece. Speaking louder to compensate only irritates those around.
Aliph touts the use of the Noise Shield Technology built into the Jawbone. By combining the acoustics, design of the headset and the audio processing of the call, pretty much of the background noise is eliminated.
Inside the design of the Jawbone are highly directional microphones with signal processing algorithms that remove the background noise from the outbound speech signal sent from the headset.With great timing, my friend Josh purchased a Jawbone with an iPhone rebate at the Apple store. It was apparent that an A/B test was in order!
As a test, Josh and I decided to challenge the claim of the background noise reduction by wearing our Jawbone headsets. We agree to meet up at a Hooter’s Restaurant on our lunch hour and initiate our phone calls under a speaker in the middle of the restaurant. The results were as advertised (and demonstrated in the video below.) I made the first call and could barely hear any resemblance of blaring music. Also, I could not hear any of the conversation around Josh as I was conversing walking down the street. When I arrived, we switched roles and the audio quality was the same. Later that afternoon, I called Josh from my car with the radio blasting with rap music and while he could hear something in the background, it was unidentifiable. The call was clear to an audio engineer’s ear.
Part of the Jawbone technology is a proprietary voice activity sensor that identifies and separates the caller’s voice from nearby sound.
Here’s a demo of the Jawbone video (click to play – I’m not going to record a demo video at Hooter’s )
Another friend Michael, talked about my review process with the Jawbone and later used his Apple iPhone rebate for a Jawbone. After an extensive conversation one evening on my commute home, he mentioned he was conversing on his Jawbone via the iPhone while I had the HTC S710 to my ear. The quality was clear and I’m happy to report, our spouses enjoy the clearness of the conversation as well.
One thing that I’ve noticed in my use of the Jawbone is not having to shout or strain to hear a conversation. Being able to carry a conversation in a soft spoken voice was highly appealing to me, as I’m not comfortable carrying a private conversation in a loud voice.
When the sound quality of a Bluetooth headset is this good, then it is worth wearing. The design of the Jawbone integrates all of this technology in unique ways.
The rectangular shaped styling is striking and upon first impressions it looks like the casing is made of metal. Rather, the casing is plastic and available in three glossy metallic colors – black, silver and red.The curvature of the design is shaped to touch your face to allow the microphone (the white button) to receive maximum exposure to the vibrations from your voice.
Photo courtesy of Aliph
The Jawbone is simple to operate. To the right of the LED strip is the Talk Button.
Photo courtesy of Aliph
Press once to answer or end a call, press and hold three seconds to turn on or off the headset. Probably the only flaw is the loud beep that emits when turning off the headset. It’s just a minor annoyance that can simply be resolved by turning off the headset after removing it from the ear.
The Noise Shield Technology can be turned on and off, but really there is no reason that I can think off to turn off the feature unless you want the same quality of other standard Bluetooth headsets.
The Jawbone can be worn on either ear with a set of two ear loops with a Left and Right curvature. Also different sized and shaped ear buds are provided.
The ear buds are designed to sit on top of the ear canal rather than be pushed in. As mentioned earlier, the design and technology of the Jawbone provides a quality conversation experience.
Although wearing the Jawbone is comfortable for extended periods, it was easy to slip on and off after a little practice. The outer metal frame provided the stiffness while the rubber portion provided the grip to keep the Jawbone in place.
Pairing the Jawbone was easy with various phones whether it was the iPhone, Palm Treo 650, 680, Samsung Blackjack or the HTC S710 with no issues. The LCD has a soft white glow when in use. The LCD light blinks red and white in pairing mode.
The manufacturer states that the Jawbone offers up to 6 hours of talk time and up to 120 hours of standby time. The Jawbone is charged via a USB wall charger with a special cap cover.
The Jawbone is a great example when form and function is perfectly married. The Noise Reduction Technology combined with a striking stylish design is worth the expense, which is actually a good value with the accessories included.
Bottom line: if you’re going to invest in a Bluetooth headset, the Jawbone delivers without question, excellent sound quality. You’ll be able to carry on a good conversation at a normal speaking voice and hear clearly as well. When a headset is this good, do you really care how you look in public? Just mind your Bluetooth manners and you’ll make converts along the way. Once your friends hear you talk on a Jawbone, they’ll want one too. I wouldn’t bother with spending good money on Bluetooth headsets costing $30 to $75.
The Aliph Jawbone headset is available from the manufacturer and various retailers.
What I Like: Sound quality is excellent on both ends; easy to wear with no ear fatigue; various ear loops and ear buds for custom fit.
What Needs Improvement: None; the loud chirp is harsh on the ear when turning off the headset while wearing.
10 Responses to “A Perfect Match: The Aliph Jawbone Review”
Feb 18th, 2008 at 12:44 pm
I do love my jawbone as well, glad to help with the review
Just wanted to add that my only complaint (should anyone from aliph read this) is the proprietary charger connector… ugh. What do I do if I leave that cable in a hotel room? Was there really anything keeping you all from putting a standard mini USB for the charge end? I mean, the current charger does look cool and follow the form factor of the earpiece, but it would be nice to be able to use one of my other usb cables as the charge voltage is just standard USB 5V anyhow.
Just my 2 cents, nice review Mr Woo…
Feb 18th, 2008 at 1:19 pm
My signif other has the jawbone headset, and i have to say that the sound quality is amazing. We tested it out with her running the weed wacker in the garage, and I couldn’t hear a thing but her talking. I picked up a very slight buzz in the background, but I couldn’t identify the sound.
She loves, and I can actually understand her better.
Although, she did mention that the ear piece takes some getting use to. Its not super comfy.
Feb 18th, 2008 at 5:51 pm
I’ve actually been looking at this baby for a while and am still on the fence due to cost. My current BT headset, the one that comes with the Palm Treo Trip Kit, is ok, but aint all the great when it comes to noise reduction.
thanks for the great review, Kerry!
Feb 18th, 2008 at 7:16 pm
I am looking at the stereo headsets like the s9, but then I think I may get a wired one for music and something like this for phone calls.
Feb 18th, 2008 at 7:33 pm
>>Just wanted to add that my only complaint (should anyone from aliph read this) is the proprietary charger connector… ugh. What do I do if I leave that cable in a hotel room? Was there really anything keeping you all from putting a standard mini USB for the charge end? I mean, the current charger does look cool and follow the form factor of the earpiece, but it would be nice to be able to use one of my other usb cables as the charge voltage is just standard USB 5V anyhow.
Just my 2 cents, nice review Mr Woo…
I was 3/4 of the way to ordering one when the same thought struck me as reynoldsj.
Going to take a pass because I am too spoiled with my Motorola BT Headset that shares the charging outlet with my Blackberry (mini-usb).
Only when we refuse to buy into all these proprietary charging dooo – hickeys will manufacturers change…
Oh, and I started scrolling down looking for your Hooters video – I think it would have been hilarious to see the looks you got while filming that…
Feb 18th, 2008 at 7:56 pm
The proprietary charging dongle is, if not an outright deal-breaker, at least a major disincentive.
Feb 18th, 2008 at 8:10 pm
Thanks everyone for chiming in – I didn’t give much consideration about the proprietary charging cradle. After years of dealing with the Palm Treo charging cable or different headphone jack sizes, I’ve become accustomed to the variations and disciplines of just keeping up with the cables. Still, the Jawbone’s sound quality is so good, that I can overlook the proprietary charging cradle.
Also search online – there are some great prices for the Jawbone that will ease the disincentive.
I appreciate the feedback!
Feb 18th, 2008 at 10:13 pm
OK! I have been using the Jawbone since the day it was introduced.
Here are the issues:
1. This thing is not ergonomic. That is to say that the fit sucks (for me).
2. There is no way to store it well and pushing it into a pocket not infrequently results in a broken ear-hook. I am on the 4th one (re-bent from being for “lefties).
3. Wind. I mean when a squirrel in the tree above you farts, the party at then end of the line will loose what you are saying. And it matters not, if the rubber tit is on your cheek.
1. Battery life
2. Proprietary charger hook. Hello? Are you a geek or do you read this blog by accident. The plug here is pretty basic. I hope you can figure out thie socket/ plug thing. Or your life will be pretty lonely.
Feb 19th, 2008 at 10:06 pm
(This is in response to dgduris’ post.)
While we are quite capable of using the proprietary charging cradle-cable, you will find some geeks are quite unwilling to put up with more cables, chargers, and proprietary “features” than we have to.
If I only need to pack one interchangeable usb, car, and plug-in power cable with mini-usb for my phone, headset, camera, and PDA; why should I want to deal with spaghetti tangles? (Example at ) And why should I have to purchase a new home charger, travel charger, battery charger, and car charger at $20 each for every tech upgrade if I don’t have to.
While a proprietary charging cradle-cable is obviously not a big deal for some geeks, it is for others just like the ear-hooks are problematic for some geeks but not others. This is why we depend on reviews like Kerry’s and our fellow reader comments.
Oh, and by the way, we are not the only geeks with too many cables who want non-proprietary charging systems:
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