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The New Aliph Jawbone: Bluetooth Headset

Jawbone1 gold_front_large

The Original Jawbone 1                                            The New Jawbone

Aliph’s first generation Jawbone Bluetooth headset generated tons of interest when it came out three years ago.  It was so unique looking that people took notice.  It featured a futuristic, stealth-like design with a curve that followed one’s cheekbone.  It was attractive in a borg-like way.  You would expect those wearing them to have a battery compartment on their backs. 

It also featured noise canceling technology approved by DARPA, which resulted in excellent audio quality. 

The buttons were hidden within the design and some found them hard to press.  It had no volume rocker so one had to cycle through the five volume settings.

Aliph just announced the New Jawbone, which is slimmer, lighter, and more fashionable.  In fact, the designer of the Jawbone, Yves Behar, said,

“The Jawbone strategy we set-out to follow three years ago has proven that products that live on our face need to be designed differently than typical technology wares; we regard them as personal accessories or even jewelry, and, as such, believe they need to be a complete departure from the gadgetry of the mobile and headset industry.”

The new Jawbone is 50% smaller, features best in class noise elimination technology, “invisible buttons”, Touch-surface technology and a clutter free look, according to Jawbone.

So how did it fare in the real world?

In the Box

case

The beautifully designed box contains:

The New Jawbone

3 ear buds in different sizes, small, medium and large

4 differently sized ear hooks, 2 leather and 2 plastic

USB Cord – to charge from a computer

AC Adaptor

Design

It is far smaller than the previous model.  It’s also very light and unobtrusive.  The design is reminiscent of the Stealth Bomber, in that small, triangular shapes dominate the look. 

gold_front_large gold_back_large

BT_Compare

Above: clockwise starting with the New Jawbone, the Motorola H700, The Motorola H500, The Motorola HS 850, the Callpod Dragon

It compares very favorably in size with my other BT headsets.  In fact, it’s the lightest one of all.

The Buttons

Front_Buttons Rear_Buttons

By default the NoiseAssassin button is turned on.  To turn it off you hold the button for two seconds.  The New Jawbone doesn’t have a dedicated volume rocker either.  To change the volume you cycle through the five volume settings by pressing the Noise Assassin Button just as on the Original Jawbone.  To answer calls, simply press the Talk (MultiFunction) button.  To turn the unit on and off you also press the Talk button.  To turn off the led you press the Talk button 5 times.  The Jawbone will also redial the last number, reject calls and initiate voice dialing.

Another nice feature of the Jawbone is the unobtrusive LED light.

Led

The light can be turned off.  While it’s charging it’s red.  When it’s charged it becomes white.  It flashes on once every 8 seconds, and the light is not overpowering.

The charger connects magnetically to the Jawbone.  The charging cord can be plugged into your computer’s USB port, an AC outlet via the AC charger, or a car’s cigarette lighter socket if you have an adapter. 

Comfort and Fit

The New Jawbone is so light you barely feel it.  The ear piece actually goes into your ear just into the entrance.  The loops are good quality and don’t irritate the ear.  I must have small ears, because using the smallest ear bud I thought I could wear the Jawbone without the loop.  I did wear it quite a bit that way, but found the loop was necessary for me.  However, if you have larger ears you may be able to wear it without the loop.  It weighs three ounces, so it won’t sag due to the weight.  By comparison, the Callpod Dragon weighs 9 oz. and the Motorola H700 weighs 5 oz. 

Initially I was concerned that having the Voice Activity Sensor (VAS) touching my cheek would become annoying.  The  VAS must be in contact with your cheek for the unit to properly work.  However, once I put the Jawbone on I didn’t even notice it anymore. 

Aliph also made the buttons easier to press than the previous unit.  Though you can’t see them, they are in a very logical spot and I never missed or pressed the wrong one.  The button placement is intuitive.

Jawbone_quarter

Sound Quality

The Voice Activity Sensor (VAS) detects when you speak, and captures your voice frequency, even in the presence of noise.  The NoiseAssassin algorithms use Jawbone’s two microphones and the VAS to accurately model the noise environment.  It then aggressively eliminates noise. 

According to Aliph,

“Conventional “noise eliminating” headsets do not have the VAS and can only estimate when speech is occurring with software-based Voice Activation Detection (VAD) systems. For these systems to work, the speech must be significantly louder or spectrally different from the noise. These systems fail in loud environments or in the presence of other people’s speech. Furthermore, because they can’t accurately identify the speech signals, they distort the speech in the process of attempting to eliminate the noise. The result of this distortion is a significant degradation in intelligibility and quality in order to achieve a perceptual reduction in noise.”

As I stated earlier, the NoiseAssassin technology is on by default.  I found it to be quite effective, except where the wind was overwhelming.  But by the time I reached highway speeds with my window open, I couldn’t even hear myself.  People I called liked the clear sound and didn’t hear my stereo in the background, except when it was very loud.  But they only heard the music in muted tones.

This demo illustrates how powerful the NoiseAssassin Technology is.

In Sum

The Jawbone is a stylish, excellent sounding bluetooth headphone.  It is very light and doesn’t weigh you down.  I found the fit to be very good, although I wish the earpiece were a little smaller.  The smallest ear bud fit the outside edge of my ear, but it wouldn’t go in my ear.  Fortunately that didn’t sacrifice the sound quality, it just forced me to wear the ear loop.

The instruction manual that came with it was very short and to the point, as the Jawbone is quite intuitive and easy to use.

The NoiseAssassin Technology was quite effective, moreso than the other headsets I own.  Though it is not perfect, perhaps future versions will be better able to deal with wind noise.  Wind seemed to be its only Achilles heal, as it seemed to block out other noise nicely.

I highly recommend this new unit.  It may not be cheap – ok, it isn’t – but you may never need another bluetooth headphone.

Get it here for $129.99.

Pros

Excellent sound

lightweight

good fit choices

beautiful packaging

wonderful design

LED can be turned off and isn’t overpowering

Negatives

Ear bud could be smaller

Doesn’t include car charger adapter

No volume rocker

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June 30, 2008 - Posted by | Bluetooth, Reviews

1 Comment »

  1. Jawbone has nicely mixup the desgin with the technologly i have never seen this kind of beautifull and attractive device ever. Surly i like to have one.

    Comment by Bluetooth headsets speak out | July 3, 2008 | Reply


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