Aliph’s Jawbone 2 is my favorite Bluetooth headset and an item that should be on the top of your holiday shopping list. It’s both highly functional and highly fashionable, pleasing users with its NoiseAssassin technology and sleek styling.
The Jawbone 2 cancels background noise and isolates your voice by using algorithms developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. What this means in the real world is you can call your friends or colleagues from a crowded cafe and they won’t hear a thing except your voice.
The Jawbone 2 is a huge improvement over the original Jawbone, which I purchased when it came out (but returned it because it was too bulky). The new Jawbone 2 is very light and comes with several ear loops and buds to fit just about anybody. It’s comfortable in the ear and its so light you’ll forget you’re even wearing it.
I’m a techie, but I like the fact that the Jawbone 2 looks more like a a fashion accessory than a gadget accessory. I like that there’s no visible branding or logos. Instead it has a white LED, which looks less geeky than the standard blue LED.
The Jawbone 2 box is very elegant. Both its packaging and marketing material appeal to fashion-conscious consumers. It’s available in black, silver, gold, pink and blue. The diamond-pattern finish resists fingerprints and the leather-wrapped ear loop ads a touch of class. When I showed the Jawbone 2 to my wife she instantly wanted one (and got a silver one).
When I first saw the following video demo provided by Aliph I was pretty skeptical, especially since I wasn’t completely satisfied with the original Jawbone:
Using the Jawbone 2
I’ve been using the Jawbone 2 for the past month and while I haven’t tested it in as extreme noise conditions as in the video, I did use it daily in a number of situations where I’ve had trouble making calls and was very happy with the results. I used it with my iPhone 3G, MacBook Pro and HP Mini 1000.
I called a friend while I was sitting at the counter at Peet’s Coffee & Tea. NoiseAssasin is on by default and after a few minutes I asked him if he could hear any background noise. He asked me “what background noise?” I explained to him that I was sitting about eight feet from an espresso machine, blenders and a coffee grinder. He insisted he didn’t hear a thing so I switched off NoiseAssassin (holding a hidden button for a couple of seconds) and my voice was replaced by the whirring and grinding of the coffee machines.
I used it while walking around the streets of San Francisco several times and not a single person mentioned they had a hard time hearing me. In fact, many said they didn’t realize I wasn’t in my office until I asked them to hold on while I ordered food or said hello to somebody I knew. Without the JawBone 2 you can clearly hear the city buses and cars passing, making it difficult to make business calls while walking.
I also used it to make Skype calls while I was in noisy environments with similarly positive results. I normally turn off my speakers while I’m on a call, but the Jawbone 2 cancels out background music completely which means I can just leave my music on.
As you can hear in the video demo, the Jawbone 2 can clip your voice and make it sound a little muffeled as it filters out background noise. While not ideal, this is much better than having a ton of background noise.
As much as I like the Jawbone 2, it’s not perfect. There are two buttons hidden beneath the plastic. It can be difficult to locate the buttons while the headset’s in your ear. This makes it easier than I like to miss the button. A few times I kept jabbing at the Jawbone 2 with my fingers, pressing it into my ear without successfully hitting the answer/end button. With time I got used to the placement .
Another flaw is that the status light is directly on top of one of these buttons. To program it you have to hold both buttons down and wait for the LED to flash between red and white in order to pair it, makingit impossible to read its status while you’re setting it up.
The Jawbone 2 is rated for four hours of talk time and that should be enough for most users, but my Jawbone 2 ran out of juice several times towards the end of a long phone day.
A USB cable is used to charge the Jawbone 2, but the end that connects to the headset is proprietary. It’d be great if it used a mini-USB connection instead so users could ditch this cable at home and use the same cable they use to connect other devices to their notebooks.
At times I was jealous of the people on the other end of the call because they said they could hear me just fine while I couldn’t always hear them because of the background noise. The volume adjusts automatically and at times it wasn’t sufficient. A hand over my non-Bluetooth ear pretty much solved the problem though.
At $129 the Jawbone 2 is expensive compared to other Bluetooth headsets, but if you’re a phone junkie like me the investment is well worth it. The product has been out for several months now so the discount have kicked in. Amazon is seling the Jawbone 2 for $89.99 and I’ve seen online ads for as low as $69.
Its superior noise cancellation and high fashion make the Jawbone 2 a top pick for the holidays.