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Review: Jawbone 2 Noise Assassin headset

03062008040Dan Lane’s been looking at the new Jawbone headset we discussed in the podcast. Here’s his opinions…

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I was going to write quite a bit about the noise cancelling features of Aliph’s new Jawbone bluetooth headset, but to be honest there is no point, I recorded the tests I made and you can listen to them and make your own mind up about how well the Jawbone performs in the various real-world situations I used it in.

While I was unable to convince anyone with a convertible to let me sit in the passenger seat and make calls while we drove around with the top down I did test the handset in the following three situations:

* In my office, with loud music playing:

* In my office with the air conditioning on full:

* On the back of a boat, travelling up the Thames (obeying the posted speed limit) stood between two giant turbine engines:

I paired the Jawbone with my iPhone and called a number I’d setup that recorded all incoming calls. In each recording I give an example of what the audio quality is like with the Jawbone Noise Assassin features turned on, off and using the iPhone as a normal handset.

My opinion is that the Jawbone does a great job when there isn’t much background noise but when any serious background noise is introduced the Noise Assassin just falls apart. It wasn’t too bad at filtering out the air conditioning though. In every test the iPhone, while not doing as good a job at filtering out the background noise, did manage to make me sound more audible than the Jawbone. My biggest problem here is that I have no way of knowing if I sound clear to the person on the other end of the call, on some occasions the Jawbone was slightly misaligned and didn’t pick up anything I said.

As for the device itself, it certainly feels like a premium bit of kit, it’s solidly built and just over half the size of the original Jawbone which felt bulky and cheap (in fact, my own original Jawbone fell to pieces) and some of the included ear-loops are covered in what we are told is “fine leather” but to be honest there is so little of it that it’s hard to tell, but it’s a nice aesthetic touch. The device is operated by two buttons hidden beneath the plastic exterior, one to start or end calls and one to toggle the Noise Assassin function (which is automatically enabled at the beginning of every call). Unlike the original Jawbone these buttons are easy to press accidentally, a number of times I found myself disconnecting a caller because I wanted to push the headset further into my ear.

In brief, for a fiver short of £100, it’s probably not worth bothering with.

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Bonus: there is a bit of the Thames without a speed limit where the boat goes quite fast and during that time you couldn’t hear anything from me… although the Jawbone sensor may have been making contact with my cheek, who knows!

By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

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