I've been playing around with Aliph's second iteration of its über-cool Bluetooth cell phone accessory -- called the Jawbone -- since I saw it at the CES gadget preview held in advance of this week's big Las Vegas show. Here's my quick review.Supposedly, the original Jawbone became a big hit with Hollywood types because of its unusual -- almost Art Deco -- design. The Jawbone 2, released last year, brings more user-friendliness to the original concept, mainly because it's 50% lighter than its predecessor.
Functionally, Jawbone is best known for its noise-canceling technology, dubbed "NoiseAssassin" in its second incarnation. I can definitely report that this stuff works. You get a noticeable improvement in how well people can hear you, and in your ability to hear them, when you're out and about making cell phone calls. This applies whether you're walking around (wind noise to contend with) or driving in the car. (Remember to turn down the radio, too, OK?)
There were two minor annoyances with the headset, which weren't showstoppers for me but were noticeable nonetheless. First is that part of the Jawbone's ability to deliver good inbound call volume stems from the fact that the earpiece rests inside your ear. (As opposed to my previous Motorola Bluetooth, which rested on the ear without worming its way towards the waxier innards.) The problem with Jawbone's approach is that you trade better performance for somewhat less comfort. Also, it makes it harder to hear your ambient surroundings when you're not on a call. (Sort of the same situation you have if you're walking down the street while listening to your iPod.)
Aliph (the private, San Francisco-based company that makes the Jawbone) provides three sizes of rubber pieces that cover the earbud, to enable you to fit the thing for maximum comfort. So this helps a bit, but I still found the ear intrusion a bit difficult to get used to.
The other negative is shorter battery life, as opposed to the typical, heftier Bluetooth headset. However, it does meet its spec of delivering four hours of talk time, and charging is pretty quick.
So my overall verdict is that the Jawbone 2 delivers on its promise of better calls. Good looks be damned; it's highly functional. As for the comfort and battery life issues, they're not killers and hopefully will be improved in the third generation.
Jawbone has released a sleeker version of its ultracool Bluetooth cell phone accessory. (Click picture to enlarge.)
Which Bluetooth do you use? Please leave a comment below, or shoot me an e-mail directly at [email protected].
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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.