Review posted July 2008 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The original Jawbone Bluetooth headset, introduced by Aliph, was a big hit. It had a very cool jawbone activated voice sensor and a very modern design. The Noise Assassin technology combined with the Jawbone’s DSP worked well for audio performance. But it was a large headset that looked fine on a big man but quite large on everyone else. In May of 2008, Aliph followed up with the new Jawbone Bluetooth headset that’s only half the size of the first one yet kept most of the technology intact. The new Jawbone 2 has the same modern and clean look, supports most call management features and it’s more comfortable to wear. With the size chopped in half, the outgoing voice quality shows some regression and the battery life is also shorter, though incoming voice quality is much improved.
This sleek headset comes in a brilliantly designed package and offers three colors: black, silver and rose gold.
Like the original Jawbone, the packaging design of the Jawbone 2 is very attractive and shows off the curvy and now much smaller body of the Jawbone 2 headset. The new Jawbone 2 Bluetooth headset has a very similar design to the original Jawbone with the same curves and voice activation sensor touching your jaw, yet there’s a big difference: the Jawbone 2 is about the half of the size of the original Jawbone and a bit lighter. The two buttons that control most of the headset’s operations such as pairing, powering on/off and call management have been integrated into the front plate of the headset. Though it’s not hard to use these buttons, the small LED light is often hidden under a finger operating the talk button. The ear hook is now a thin strip and the package comes with 4 ear hooks in different sizes and thickness (thinner ones are better for folks wearing glasses), and 3 earbuds (small, medium and large). The headset is easy to wear and feels comfortable even after a long period of time. We really like the new charger design: the charging port is magnetic (like the MagSafe charging port on the MacBook) so it’s super easy to connect to the charger.
The new Jawbone on the left, and the original Jawbone on the right.
Pairing and Features
The new Jawbone shares technology with the original Jawbone, including NoiseAssasin that works in conjunction with the DSP. It works effectively in very noisy environments to filter out background noise, and you can turn the noise shield on or off by pressing the Noise Assassin button for 2 seconds. Also the signature jawbone activated voice sensor is onboard the Jawbone 2; the sensor detects jaw vibration so can differentiate your voice from ambient noise. The headset supports common call management features such as answering incoming calls, call rejecting, voice dialing (on most phones), last number redial and call waiting.
We tested the new Jawbone headset with over a dozen phones, and it paired with all easily. When you turn on the headset for the first time, the new Jawbone will go into pairing mode automatically. After the first time, while the headset is off you will need to hold the Talk button and the Noise Assassin button together until the LED flashes red and white alternately, and pair with it using your phone with default pass code “0000”.
Voice Quality and Range
The original Jawbone had great outgoing voice quality and powerful noise canceling technology. The new Jawbone still has the powerful noise canceling technology onboard, and while incoming voice quality has improved greatly (it’s both louder and clearer) outgoing voice is less distinct with some phones. Incoming voice ranged from good to excellent depending on the phone it’s used with, but outgoing voice was a mixed bag. Check out our detailed experience with each phone below. Sometimes when we turned off the Noise Assassin the outgoing voice quality got considerably better. If you talk in low to med-range noise levels (like road noise) the Jawbone 2's normal DSP will work just fine. But if you are in a very noise restaurant or factory floor, you will need to turn on the Noise Assassin.
When working with the Motorola Q9c (Bluetooth v2.0):
Both incoming and outgoing voice quality were decent but not brilliant. The incoming voice was better than the outgoing voice; if you turn off the Noise Assassin the outgoing voice is actually clearer and louder. The DSP worked just fine for normal road noise reduction. The range between the Q9c and the new Jawbone reached 10-12 feet.
When working with the Nokia XpressMusic 5310 (Bluetooth v2.0):
Both incoming and outgoing voice quality was good, but not outstanding. We had no problem holding conversations and the incoming voice was quite loud. If you have this Nokia phone, the Jawbone 2 is a good companion. The range was so-so with the Nokia, reaching 8 feet max before we started hearing crackling.
When working with the HTC Touch Dual (Bluetooth v2.0):
The incoming call quality was great, very clear and quite loud. But outgoing voice was muddy and had consistent digital distortion. Our call recipients kept asking us to repeat ourselves, though we could hear them loud and clear. The range between the Jawbone 2 and the HTC Touch Dual reached 10 feet. One thing that didn’t work with HTC Touch Dual was voice dialing. We tested voice dialing on several other Bluetooth headsets with the HTC Touch dual, and they all worked fine.
When working with the Sidekick LX (Bluetooth v2.0):
Again the incoming call voice was decent but the outgoing voice quality had a lot of digital distortion. Our call recipients described the outgoing voice like a “broken payphone” and could hardly hold a conversation with us.
When working with the BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Bluetooth v2.0):
Both incoming and outgoing sound was muffled like talking through a thin sock. We could hold a conversation, but not clearly. Volume wasn’t very high either even when everything turned to max. The range was about 8-10 feet.
When working with the Nokia N95 (Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR):
We experienced noticeable digital distortion on the new Jawbone 2 headset with the Nokia N95. We tested two Jawbone units with the phone, both had the same results.
When working with the iPhone and iPhone 3G (Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR):
Voice quality and volume for incoming and outgoing calls was quite good (best with the iPhone 3G).
The Jawbone 2 has a rechargeable battery and you can use either the included world AC charger (100-240V) or computer via USB to charge the headset. Charging the headset through AC is fast and ours usually charged fully in 30-45 minutes. The reduced body size provides less space for the battery, as result, the Jawbone 2 headset has shorter battery runtimes compared to the original Jawbone. The claimed talk time is 4 hours and standby time is 8 days which seem on target in our tests.
If there was anything to improve on the original Jawbone Bluetooth headset it was the size and incoming voice, and Aliph addressed these with the new Jawbone. The Jawbone 2 is small and good looking, easy to use and comfortable to wear. The incoming voice is clear and full, and the Noise Assassin is very effective in very noise environments (except wind which baffles all Bluetooth headsets). The headset charges fast and comes with several ear hooks and ear buds to fit your size. We only wished that the outgoing voice performance was better with some of the phones we tested.
Package contains the Jawbone 2 headset, AC charger with USB cable, 4 ear hooks, 3 ear buds and printed quick user’s guide.
Technical Specs: -Bluetooth v2.0
-Profiles supported: Hands-free and Headset
-Claimed talk time: Over 4 hours
-Claimed standby time: 8 days
-Headset size: 2.2 x 0.5 x 1 inches
-Headset weight: 0.35 oz. (10 grams)
-AC adapter: 100-240V