I’ve been thinking about a bluetooth headset for a long time. Since I got my iPhone, I’ve almost exclusively used the included iPod headphones / speakerphone to talk with other people. But it tangles often and it’s starting to get worn out – the rubber on the earpieces has rubbed off completely. 🙁 That combined with the California headset law (and the joy of playing with new toys) convinced me to try to go blue. Eric Benderoff’s review of several top bluetooth headsets gave me a little background, and the pure sex appeal of the Jawbone II gave me a starting place.
There are a lot of different possible categories from which to assess a gadget like this: form factor, simplicity of use, pairing ability, sound quality, battery life, durability, cost… I don’t often write really analytical reviews which numerically asses and assign rankings to devices, but this time I plan to for the sake time and conveneience. Elsewise this review will ramble, extensively. Long.
I will rank each of the above categories with a numeric ranking between 1 and 10 (naturally) and then average out the scores. By doing this I am essentially saying 1.) that each of the chosen categories have equal weighting, and 2.) that other possible categories (say, color) do not factor into my assessment. Those are both true things, so take my review with the appropriate grains of sodium hydrochloride.
Form Factor: 10 (this is a sexy looking gadget, slim, black, ribbed and fancy)
Simplicity of Use: 7 (as bluetooths go, it’s pretty easy to start, pair, adjust and figure out what’s happening)
Pairing Ability: 7 (turn it on, and turn on bluetooth on your phone – they just seem to find each other)
Sound Quality: 6 (I can hear people OK. When I need to turn the volume up high, it seems to get a little fuzzy. People can hear me OK. Not great, but OK. This might be due to poor pairing, or simply the nature of the device. )
Battery Life: 6 (battery life seems to be about what you’d expect, or just a hair better. I seem to get about 2-3 hours of active talk time. If it sits idle on a full charge for a couple days, I can still use it. If it sits idle after a full charge for 5 or 6 days, not so good. )
Durability: 4 (the device body seems to be fairly compact and well made, I expect it will last as well as anything else out there. The ear pieces are another issue. As you’ll see in the pictures below, one of my stems broke. Jawbone is kind enough to package multiple stems [for differently sized and shaped heads / ears] so I had a backup, even though it’s a suboptimal size. I did NOT mishandle nor manhandle the ear piece – just rotated it as it’s designed to be rotated, and the little sucker just snapped. Boy was I irritated. )
Cost: 4 (this is a pricey little sucker. I’ve seen it at the T-Mobile store for as little as $99, and at a Verizon store for $129. If you shop around you’ll find it for somewhere over $100.
If we assume that each of the above categories carrie an equal weighting, then the score on the Jawbone II bluetooth headset comes out to 6.29 (10+7+7+6+6+4+4=6.2857147)
I like this device’s style and simplicity. It’s elegant, pretty, fairly easy to use, and the it sounds good. Not “oh my god holy crap” amazing, but it sounds good. The cost of the unit, and the fact that the stem broke in the manner it did are both very offputting for me though, and they are the biggest limiting factors in my estimation. That particular pair of issues (high cost with questionable durability) is expecially disagreeable. I’ll be interested to see if/how the company responds to my customer service request. If they do, I will update this post.
Forced to give a numeric rating between 1 and 10, this device averaged out to a 6.29.
This review is also available at 1TO10REVIEWS.