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Bluetooth Headset and Carkit Reviews

Jabra BT800 Bluetooth Headset

Reviewed July 26, 2005 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

In the past couple of years, the mobile phones have seen fast implementation of Bluetooth technology. Jabra, a GN Netcom company, has been increasing the number of Bluetooth hands free solutions to supply the fast growing market. We reviewed the Jabra FreeSpeak BT250 Bluetooth Headset and the Jabra BT110 Bluetooth Headset last year. The BT800 is Jabra's newest Bluetooth wireless headset that features Bluetooth 1.2, a backlit LCD display for caller ID and a new DSP technology to improve the sound quality.

The Jabra BT800 has a different form factor than the Jabra FreeSpeak series headsets. It has an over-the-ear wearing style as opposed to the in-ear style found on the FreeSpeak Series. The BT800 is similar in size as the Treo 650 Wireless Headset and a bit wider than the Motorola HS820. The front of the BT800 features a jog wheel that functions as volume and menu control. In the center of the jog wheel, you will find a LED that shows headset standby and pairing status. The LED button also functions as Menu button when not in a call and Mute button when in calls. You will find the Call Send and End controls on the left side of the BT800 and the charging port on the top edge. The Jabra has a small hole on the left side above the Call function buttons. It functions as a pairing switch and you can put the headset in pairing mode by pressing in the hole using the included stylus. You can also use the Menu to put the headset in pairing mode. There are no control buttons or ports on the right side of the headset. On the inner side, the Jabra has a 21 x 64 pixel LCD that displays caller ID, battery status, Menu for ringtone selections, pairing and more. Above the LCD, you will find a large earpiece that's domed out to fit in your ear and an interchangeable ear hook for wearing the headset on either ear. You will find the mic grill on the bottom of the headset.

The headset is well designed to stay securely in your ear and comfortable to wear for a long period of time at 0.8 ounces. Though a departure from the in-ear style that earned Jabra some loyal fans, the BT800 needs the over-the-ear form factor for that unique display. The jog wheel is very comfortable for changing volume and for scrolling through the Menu.

The Jabra BT800 supports both Headset and Hands-Free profiles and was easy to pair with all the devices we've tried it with. For our pairing test, we used the Palm Treo 650, Nokia N-Gage QD, LG VX8100, Samsung i730 and the Audiovox XV6600. The BT800 offers two ways to pair. You can use the included stylus to poke the pairing hole on the left side of the headset until the LED shows solid blue, or use the Menu on the LCD to put the headset into pairing mode. Use "0000" as the default passkey to connect your phone with the headset. Once connected, the headset will automatically turn on when you send or receive a call. You can tap the Answer button to initiate voice dialing and voice command. The Jabra can pair with up to 8 devices and will overwrite the data on the old ones in pairing history if you pair it with more than 8 devices. The headset had no trouble switching from one phone to another when working with multiple phones except the Treo 650. We had to re-pair once in a while after we'd paired the headset with other devices, though the Treo had been paired first. The hand off between the phone and the headset worked very well on all devices we tested. After you established a connection between the phone and the headset, the outgoing and incoming calls route through the headset automatically.

The Jabra BT800's voice quality is great thanks to the new DSP (digital signal processing) technology. The built-in mic has noise canceling and echo canceling functions. The outgoing voice is clear and loud and the incoming voice rarely has any background noise. Voice quality was very good when calling both cell phone line and land lines, and it worked fairly well in windy conditions. The Jabra features an automatic volume adjustment feature. When in a call, it will adjust the earpiece volume depending on environmental background noise and so far it works about 80% of the time. You can of course adjust the volume on the earpiece using the jog wheel. The range between the phone and the headset did not achieve 30 feet in our tests; then again not many Bluetooth headsets we've tested have managed that much range without some crackling and break-up. The BT800 gets about 10-20 feet depending on which phone you are using.

 

Jabra BT800 Bluetooth headset

Jabra BT800 size comparison

Size comparison: the Motorola HS820, Plantronics M3500 and the Jabra BT800

 

Deals and Shopping

 

 

 

The Jabra BT800 certainly packs a large number of features into a small form. It has support for many popular features such as voice dialing, call waiting, muting calls, etc. and some unique features include LCD display for caller ID and menu, ringtone settings and more. The LCD allows you to not only see the call ID on incoming calls, but also a UI (User Interface) for call functions such as answer call, reject call, view latest incoming call list and to change ringtones on the headset, ring types, language and put the headset into pairing mode. The LCD takes the guess work out of the wireless headset functions and will surely please both new and veteran users. The LCD on the Jabra displays incoming call numbers reliably on all the phones we've tested it with except again the troublesome Treo 650 and one of our two Samsung i730 Pocket PC phones. With the Treo 650, there was a few seconds delay before the headset rang and it didn't display the call ID as reliably as on other phones. The LCD displays only the incoming call number, not the contact name even if you have the contact in your database. The Jabra headset has 5 built-in ringtones and a vibrating alert function and you can use the Menu on the LCD to change the ringtones and ring types.

The Jabra BT800 comes with a rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery that can be charged using either the AC adapter or the USB cable. The LCD is very handy when you need to check the battery status as it displays it when in standby mode. The runtimes in our tests fell slightly short of the claimed talk time (up to 6 hours) and standby time (up to 125 hours). That's good for a headset that has so many features and to keep LCD running at all times.

Conclusion

Pro: The Jabra BT800 qualifies as one of the most powerful Bluetooth headsets currently on the market. The design is stylish and comfy to use; the DSP technology works well at improving audio quality. The auto volume adjustment is a great new technology and the LCD is unique for displaying caller ID and headset functions. Good battery life, though not the best we've seen. Easy to pair with a variety of devices.

Con: This isn't a good headset for the Treo 650. If you have a Treo 650, check out the Palm Treo 650 Wireless Headset. The LCD screen could be brighter. It looks a bit dim in a dark environment. Though it's packed with features, the Jabra BT800 is a bit pricy compared to most Bluetooth headsets currently on the market.

The package contains the Jabra BT800 Bluetooth headset, an AC world power adapter (input: AC 100-240V/50-60Hz/45mA; Output: DC 6V/250mA), a USB cable that allows you to charge the headset via your computer, a stylus for pairing, a carrying pouch and a printed User Manual.

Price: $149

Web site: www.jabra.com

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