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Jabra FreeSpeak BT250 Bluetooth Headset

Review posted May 17, 2004 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

JABRA, a Copenhagen based company, has been making hands free products for the mobile communications market since 1993. JABRA’s hands free headsets, especially the Bluetooth wireless headsets, took over the retail shelves and made appearances in hit TV shows. The JABRA FreeSpeak BT250 is their second generation Bluetooth wireless headset which has support for both Hands free and Headset profiles. The Jabra BT250V adds a vibrate feature but is otherwise identical.

While many Bluetooth headsets we’ve seen use the real estate in front of your ear, the JABRA takes a different approach and uses the space behind your ear. The headset looks very elegant and stylish, and thanks to its ergonomic design and light weight (0.8 oz), it’s also very comfortable to wear. The BT250 headset is contoured to fit nicely behind your ear with a bendable, soft rubber ear bud arm on the top and a microphone boom extended toward your mouth at the bottom. The part of the headset that resets next to your ear is made of a soft, sound-absorbing soft plastic material that reduces distortion. The outer area hosts the LED, the multi-function button, volume up and down controls as well as the charging port. The buttons are well laid out with enough space in between so that you won’t accidentally push the wrong buttons during a call.

Instead of just using a round ear bud, the JABRA adds a soft ear gel piece that goes into the ear canal on top of the ear bud. This design proves to be very effective as it both blocks ambient noise and channels the earphone sound directly into your ear. The ear gel feels very soft and comfortable and can be easily flipped to fit either left or right ear. Very convenient! JABRA provides many sizes of EarGels so that users can find size that fit their ears the best.

Pairing the JABRA with other devices is fairly easy, though there is a small difference in pairing with dual profiles. Unlike other Bluetooth wireless headsets such as the Logitech or Cardo allways headsets, the JABRA uses different pairing mode for the headset profile than it does for the hands-free profile. The pairing works quite smoothly on the handsets we tested with either profile (Nokia 3650 for the hands-free profile; Sony Ericsson P800 and Orange SPV E200 for the headset profile). The JABRA also works with PDAs with headset profiles as well, and it worked flawlessly on the iPAQ 5555 for both systems sounds and voice recordings.

The voice quality is extremely good on incoming voice and only decent on outgoing voice. The volume through the ear bud and EarGel is so loud and clear that I often need to turn down the volume. There are usually no breakups or noises coming through the headset for incoming voice. The boom and the mic work in a less perfect way, however. The headset produces occasional crackles and break-ups through the mic and boom in both quiet and windy conditions. The range of the JABRA wasn’t very long either in our tests. It didn’t get the 30-feet range before it started breaking connections between the phone and the headset.

The JABRA supports voice dialing and simple voice commands. The voice dialing works well even if you’ve recorded your voice tags and commands on the phone instead of through the headset. The headset also supports call waiting and swapping calls with the Function button. There is no mute function on the headset.

The BT250 has a rechargeable lithium polymer battery and comes with a charging cradle and an A/C adapter. Plug the headset into the cradle to charge. It takes about a couple of hours to fully charge the headset, and the blue LED will turn off when the headset is charged. We got about 5-6 hours talk time and over a week standby time in our tests.


Jabra BT250 Bluetooth headset


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Pro: If you are looking for a slick and elegant headset with good performance, JABRA is a tough candidate to beat. The comfortable form factor and clean design will attract mobile users whose favorite TV shows include 24 and Alias. The pairing is easy and connections established quickly after pairing. Even though it uses a different pairing scheme for Hands-free profile from Headset profile, if you only own and pair with one Bluetooth mobile phone, this won’t hurt you at all. The voice quality on the incoming calls is the best we’ve seen. The battery life is longer than many other headsets we’ve seen, except the Logitech Mobile Bluetooth Headset, which has longest battery life. Con: The outgoing voice quality should be better than it is. The Bluetooth range did not reach 30 feet before breaking up the connections. It does not have a mute function.

The package includes the JABRA FreeSpeak BT250 headset, 4 MiniGels (2 small and 2 standard), a charging cradle with case and belt clip, an A/C adapter as well as a short printed user manual.

Price: $99.95

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