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Jabra BT500 Bluetooth Headset Review

It appears that not a week goes by without at least one new Bluetooth headset being released…

I was recently checking the popularity ranking of all BT headsets in the Treonauts Shop and at present the top 5 are:

  1. Palm Compact Wireless Headset ($59.95)
  2. Jabra BT500 ($89.95)
  3. Cardo Scala 500 ($49.95)
  4. Sony Ericsson HBH-662 (was $109.95 now $84.95)
  5. Sony Ericsson HBH-300 ($99.95)

I wasn’t too surprised about this ranking as the Palm Wireless Headset and both Sony Ericsson headsets have been on my own personal favourite list since testing and writing my review of eight BT headsets back in August.

Overall I see Cardo Scala’s as the choice for the cost-conscious because it is the cheapest, Palm’s as the choice for the value-conscious because it offers excellent all-round performance and both of Sony Ericsson’s as the choice for the quality-conscious because they offer the right combination of design, quality and performance.

Missing from my list above is Jabra’s new BT500 which I was surprised to find had shot up to the number two slot.  Since I hadn’t seen it before I decided to get one and test it.

At first glance I was impressed by how slim the BT500 is compared with, for example, the previous BT250v that I had reviewed.  As you can see from the image below left, the new headset is nearly half as thick as the older model while the overall height and width remain pretty much unchanged.

I don’t know how the math works out but even though it is considerably slimmer the new BT500 is only 3 grams (15%) lighter than the previous model (19g versus 22g).  Additionally, the talk time has been upped from 7 to 8 hours and the standby time from 8 to 10 days.  Most importantly perhaps for the regular traveller is that the BT500 can now conveniently be charged via USB thus allowing you to leave the charger behind.  However, missing from the BT500 package is the charging cradle/headset holder which had been standard on all other ones.

On the design and build quality side, the BT500 is very slick and elegant with a particularly appealing chrome accent at the end of the microphone.  I am not a huge fan of the over-the-ear fitting style but there’s no doubt that once fitted it is extremely comfortable to wear.  There is also a discreet LED indicator for charging and battery levels and a dedicated pairing button.

While the overall features and specifications are undoubtedly pretty impressive the real test for any bluetooth headset obviously comes when making and receiving phone calls and here unfortunately Jabra’s BT500 ultimately disappoints.  I tested the BT500 under a number of different inbound and outbound call environments and unfortunately on each occasion I had reason to complain with considerable static even when within a mere 1 meter away from my Treo and broken audio.

Specifically, I tested the BT500 against my own top choice of Sony Ericsson’s HBH-662 (which is actually $5.00 cheaper) and there was just no comparison in audio quality.  It’s a shame that Jabra’s BT500 should fall short of this last but most important of criteria and I hope that future versions will improve on this front.  Until then I’ll stick to my existing favourite.

Treonauts are always checking new things out

Posted by Andrew on October 24, 2005 at 11:20 AM

Treo Accessories , Treo Bluetooth Headset

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by Angela | Oct 24, 2005 6:22:53 PM

Can anyone recommend a good bluetooth headset for someone with small ears? I have had problems in the past with headsets staying on my ear. Thanks!

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