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Bluetooth Headset and Car Kit Reviews

Jabra BT530 Bluetooth Headset

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Review posted February 2009 by Tong Zhang, Editor in Chief

Jabra has an extensive collection of Bluetooth headsets. Last year we reviewed the Jabra BT8040 whose specialty was supporting both mono Bluetooth profiles for phone calls and stereo A2DP for streaming music. The Jabra BT530 came out in late 2009 with a focus on powerful DSP technology for noise canceling and clear sound for voice calls. Like the Jabra BT8040, the Jabra BT530 has Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR. In addition the headset comes with Audio Shock Protection technology which intelligently adjusts the headset’s volume to guard against a sudden volume increase. The Jabra BT530 is comfortable to wear and comes in black.

Jabra BT530

Small and Comfy

The Jabra BT530 looks modern with a domed black cover, silver accents and soft touch finish. The headset measures 1.9 x 0.7 x 0.5 inches and is shorter than the Jawbone 2 but longer than the Jabra BT8040. The Jabra BT530 is very comfortable to wear throughout the day. The featherweight headset has dual wearing styles: you can either wear it with a Jabra’s 3rd generation Eargel or with a soft and flexible ear hook. Jabra’s new Eargels have raised tips that extend into the ear and a soft loop on top to wedge the headset in your ear lobe. The Jabra BT530 comes with several Eargels in different sizes. If you wear the headset in the office, home or car, the Eargels are efficient for keeping the headset secure in your ear. But if you wear your Bluetooth headset while jogging, the ear hook is a good option. The hook is small, comfortable and the material is soft and flexible.

Jabra BT530

The Jabra BT530 and the Jawbone 2 Bluetooth headsets.

The control buttons on the Jabra BT530 are easy-to-use and should be big enough for most people unless you have very large fingers. The call answer/end button along with volume up and down buttons live on the front of the headset and they click when pressed. The dual microphones live on the boom and the power button is located on the side of the headset. The charging port is on top of the Jabra BT530 and the LED light sits between the two volume buttons on the front.

 

 

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Pairing and Features

The Jabra BT530 runs on Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR and worked with all the phones we tested it with. Like many today’s of Bluetooth headsets, the Jabra BT530 has a “QuickPair” feature. QuickPair puts your headset into pairing mode the first time you turn it on. You can use your phone to search for and pair with the headset using the default pass code “0000”. Alternatively with the headset turned off, press and hold the call button until the LED lights solid blue to put it in pairing mode. We tested the Jabra BT530 Bluetooth headset with several phones and it paired with all easily.

Jabra BT530

The Jabra BT530 supports popular Hands-free features such as voice dialing, last number redialing, call rejecting and call waiting. You can also mute outgoing voice during a call or put a call on hold using the headset’s controls. The voice dialing worked well with all the phones we tested it with.

Jabra BT530

Voice Quality and Range

Bluetooth headset makers often struggle with finding the balance between providing crystal clear in-call audio and an effective DSP. The Jabra BT530 has a very effective DSP while providing good, though not exceptional audio quality. The Jabra has dual microphones, a setup that’s becoming more commonplace for noise canceling. The headset can filter out most road noise and indoor ambient noise (indoor café, etc.) but is less effective with wind noise. The audio quality on both incoming and outgoing ends is good (above average) but not crystal clear like the Plantronics Discovery 925 (landline like audio clarity). That said, for a Bluetooth headset, the Jabra BT530 performs just fine with most of the phones we tested.

Jabra BT530

The Jabra BT530 worked well with the BlackBerry Bold.

When working with the iPhone 3G (Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR):
The Jabra worked well with the iPhone with good voice quality and strong noise cancellation. Our call recipients could hardly hear any road noise from passing cars and trucks and we could hear our callers easily when we were driving. The Audio Shock Protection worked well, though it sometimes automatically turned the volume a bit too low. The range between the iPhone 3G and the Jabra BT530 was about 10-12 feet.

When working with the Palm Treo Pro (Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR):
The Treo Pro plays well with most recent Bluetooth headsets (unlike old Treo models!), and the Jabra BT530 was no exception. Voice quality on both incoming and outgoing ends was quite good via the headset, though not super crisp and clear. We had no trouble hearing conversations even over road noise. The DSP was very effective when working with the Treo Pro, filtering out most road noise. Range was middle of the road, reaching 10-15 feet before we noticed digital distortion and artificial noise.

When working with the Sidekick 2008 (Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR):
The Sidekick 2008 also worked well with most headsets we tested it with. The Jabra BT530 worked fine with this phone. The incoming voice sounded a bit nasal while outgoing voice was clearer, though both ends sounded good. The volume was very loud on both ends as well. The DSP worked well when working with the Sidekick, filtering out road noise and wind noise. The range was about 10 feet.

When working with the Samsung Sway (Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR):
The voice quality was good on both incoming and outgoing ends, and we could hold conversations even in a moderately noisy airport. The DSP was quite effective. The range between the Jabra and the Sway reached about 10-15 feet.

Battery Life

The Jabra BT530 comes with a rechargeable battery and you can charge the headset with the included AC charger or USB-to mini USB cable. If you buy the Bluetooth headset and USB adapter bundle pack, you will only get the USB charging cable. The headset takes about 2 hours to fully charge and the claimed talk time is 5.5 hours, while claimed standby is 10 days. Our tests showed the talk time was about 5 hours which is good by Bluetooth headset standards and the standby was over a week. One nice thing about the Jabra BT530 is the dedicated power button. It makes it easy to turn it off when you are done using it for the day to conserve battery power. The headset automatically finds the last paired partner after you turn it back on.

Conclusion

Jabra is known to make solid Bluetooth headsets and the Jabra BT530 continues that tradition. The headset offers good in-call audio and a very effective DSP that takes care of road and ambient noise. The headset is small and light, and is comfortable to wear. The Jabra BT530 plays nicely with many phones and the range is good enough for most uses. Jabra sells the headset either by itself or in a bundle package that includes a Bluetooth USB adapter for computers lacking integrated Bluetooth.

Pro: Modern design that looks good. Lightweight and comfortable to wear. Power button is convenient for power saving. Good audio quality and strong DSP. Good battery life.

Con: Audio is good but not superb.

Package contains: the headset, six EarGels (different sizes), 2 ear hooks (different sizes), AC charger, USB cable and printed manual.

Technical Specs:
-Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR
-Profiles supported: Headset and Hands-Free Profiles
-Claimed talk time: 5.5 hours
-Claimed standby time: 10 days
-Headset weight: 10 grams
-Headset size: 1.9 x 0.7 x 0.5 inches
-Battery: Lithium ion rechargeable
-AC adapter: 100-240V

Price: $79.95 with one-year warranty

Web site: www.jabra.com

 

 

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