iPhone Review: Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

Now that California passed a law that drivers must use a hands free headset, I was forced to go out and get a one … and since a bunch of you were so kind to complain loudly that Apple credited us early iPhone buyers with $100, the headset was essentially a Chistmas present from Apple & the crabby people – so thanks!

If you’re going to get a (mostly) free headset, why not get the best one?

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Of course, I did not test out every possible choice, for some reason, no one really like you to jam an earpiece headset into your ear and then hand it back to them … so I read a lot of reviews and while the praise was not unanimous, the best reviews seem to be for the Jawbone. I had used a few before and rejected them as dorky looking or poor sounding – neither of which applies to the Jawbone.

Of course, people might wonder why you have a square satellite TV dish in your ear but that’s more puzzling or scary than dorky.

SOUND QUALITY

Yes, it’s not the smallest thing but the sound is quite nice. I have horrible AT&T reception at my house (what a shock, I know) so it’s the perfect test as I have to walk around on the street to get reception so I could hear people fine and people could hear me fine. In fact, the quality is way better than the really dorky Apple wired set … for some reason, listening on white buds and wires on an iPod is fine but talking on one is just dorky.

Okay, I’ll stop using the word dorky now.

Some people seem to have overly high expectations of the sound quality – is it going to match two people in adjoining rooms on landline phones? No … but can you hear them easily and they can hear you easily? Then yes, it’s fine. Thay’s all you can reasonably expect. There’s no white noise, there’s no hum or feedback – it just sounds like a normal conversation.

SIZE

Of course, that’s pretty much the only reason to get a headset is sound quality. And technically, it’s more of an earpiece but Aliph calls it a headset … As someone who does not normally walk around all day with an earpiece, while it seems sort of large, it’s lightweight and the earpiece evenly distributes the weight so it didn’t really bother me to leave it on for three hours as part of my test. I’ve never understood why people wear one in the supermarket – honestly, is so hard to hold a phone and reach for some Hamburger Helper?

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(BTW, the earpiece photo directly above is pretty much actual size so if you can print out and stick on your ear to test it out. Make sure to do it when solicitors come by the front door and you can pretend to talk on it 🙂 ).

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IPHONE SETUP

The iPhone setup could not be easier.

Charge up the headset (using USB or the AC adapter).

Nice RED glow band when it’s out of juice (as straight from the box) – turns white when charged.

Turn on the headset.

Turn on iPhone – go to GENERAL. Select Bluetooth and turn on.

Place JAWBONE next to iPHONE, it will show up as “discoverable” device – tap on it and type in the factory pin …

The JAWBONE will be listed and it reads “PAIRED.”

That’s pretty much it.

When the phone rings, you press the earpiece towards the back to answer. Press and hold for 1 second to hang up. To dial out, you do need the iPhone out of your pocket.

As another nice touch on the iPhone, the SPEAKER portion that is active during a call switches to read AUDIO SOURCE and if you tape it, it now reads JAWBONE, SPEAKER or IPHONE so you can switch quickly – another nice iPhone touch.

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EARPIECE

I think one of the reasons some reviews rank the Aliph as poor is because the ear piece hook is NOT intuitive. If you look at it, you presume, it hooks over your ear but it doesn’t really and once you get the hang of it, it actually works fine and by not hooking over your outer ear flap, it distributes the weight better so you can wear it longer without a giant device resting on your ear. But it’s not very intuitive and I’m sure some people never figured it out and gave up.

The Aliph manual can be a little more descriptive on how to wear the thing.

You angle it slightly so it hooks and is ANGLED over the gap BETWEEN your head and your outer ear (the cartilage area). Once you get used to that, it’s easy to wear, it distributes the weight and is pretty firm.

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IT AIN’T FROM APPLE

I definitely looked long and hard at the Apple bluetooth but the reviews were very middling and while Aliph has done a nice job on the earpiece technology wise and exterior looks, they do fall down in small areas that Apple would never.

It comes in a gorgeous rectangular plastic box and the Jawbone rests on a museum like stand but once you open it, the details are lacking.

Instead of a carrying bag or preferably – a mini hard plastic carrying case, you get a bubble wrap bag? Huh? They just presume people will put this one in the morning and wear it all day until they get home? There should be a hard plastic carrying case you can slip into your pocket … while the thing is not ultra delicate, you do have the pivoting ear hook and most people would prefer not to jam this in their pocket … even a small vinyl bag? Nada.

The recharging portion is so un-Apple like. The charger features EXPOSED prongs that dig deep into the back of the earpiece – but removing it is so un-iPod like. Again, Apple thinks and gives you the small details – on the iPod/iPhone – if you press on the charger connector head on the side, it “unlocks” & loosens the connector so a gentle tug will remove it from the iPod and the connector is a solid piece of metal so it’s much more difficult to damage – here – you get 4 metal exposed prongs that require you to use force to plug in and when done, to try and remove it straight and with force … not a very smart design.

The charging light portion is a cool and classy touch – a thin band of light on the exterior glows briefly – red while low and charcoal white when it’s ready to go – same color scheme in turning it on and off. That is nice.

You go get additional ear hooks (left ears and large & standard) though the difference is pretty subtle – you also get some additional ear canal plugs. You also get an AC adapter to plug in the charger – though again, no carrying case to protect the exposed prongs.

And the manual should spend way more time explaining how to wear the thing … we might be morons but we’re your paying customer morons … plus you’d probably get a lot fewer returns.

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SUMMARY

So, technology-wise, no problems. The noise reduction clearly works and you get nice sound quality in-coming and out-going. I presume the larger-than normal size is more a technology limitation and not just laziness on Aliph’s part … though clearly the acccessory portion of the packaging is laziness or cluelessness and needs to be revamped – especially for something that is probably the most expensive ear piece.

So, looks nice, sounds fine and easy to setup on the iPhone. You do have to supply your own carrying case for the earpiece & the charger. The earpiece hook is not super intuitive – either a better design or better instructions are called for.

So, room for improvement is definitely needed. If the Apple headset had noise reduction, the sale would have gone to Apple so Aliph better get on the horse and start going a little faster. So recommended as probably the best out there now but lots of room for improvement. It does look nice so a very classy looking holiday gift.

It comes in red, silver & black. At Amazon, the silver comes in a Cingular box and not the Aliph box and the pricing varies. The larger Apple stores and Apple online carry all three at the same price.

One other thing, if you’re like me, you’ll need to spend another $10 for these … Jabra ear gels … while they look superfluous, they go help “grip” your actual ear canal area which is not round or oval (as Aliph seems to think) …

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They also come in colors.

And like the ear loops, you’re buying a bunch when you really only need one … once these are mass – we should start up an exchange of some kind …

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2 Comments

Filed under Apple, Computing, Design, Gadgets, Internet, iPhone, Marketing, mobile, Retail, Toys

2 responses to “iPhone Review: Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

  1. This is damn in-depth. Thank you, i needed to know. have a great weekend!

  2. Pingback: iPhone Review: Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset | Win a free iPhone!

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