Read on for a full review of the new Jabra BT8010, including a hands-on video. Despite some nasty PPC compatibility issues, the BT8010 just might be the best Bluetooth headset available today.
(Directly download the video here)
The Jabra BT8010 is far and away the most feature-laden headset available today. The BT8010 sports a large, readable display, full Bluetooth Stereo, redial, redial by the last 15 callers, importing of phone lists, vibrating ring, multipoint, and will likely give you a foot massage if you ask it to.
In addition to a gigantic pack of features, the BT8010 sports an innovative design - the sort of design that makes you smack your head and say "why wasn't this invented 5 years ago?" The BT8010 normally looks like any other Bluetooth headset (albeit slightly larger than the latest and greatest tiny headsets), but it comes with a "mini-me" version of itself attached to a short cable which you can plug into the back of the headset for stereo sound.
The mini-me portion of the headset plugs into the charging port of the BT8010, and is powered by the main headset's battery - which is a simple and elegant solution. Not so simple or elegant is Jabra didn't find a way to make this connector compatible with standard mini-usb, but instead uses a proprietary connection.
In the near future, Jabra will be releasing a desktop application (The "BT8010 Control Center")for the BT8010 that will allow you to sync up a list of phone numbers and even change the "skin" of the headset's built-in display. Jabra isn't technically distributing the Jabra BT8010 in the United States just yet (though it's available in several places, including the WMExperts store), which explains the "delay" in the desktop app.
The Jabra BT8010 is a great looking headset. Though slightly bulkier than most other modern headsets, the extra size is more than offset by the extra features of the device.
Looking at it from the side, the most prominent feature is the large, easy-to-use scroll wheel, which has a satisfying "clickyness" to it when you turn in. Within the scroll wheel is the main function button, which answer and hangs up calls and acts as a play, pause, or next song button (when double-pressed).
Jabra wasn't shy with the buttons - in addition to the side buttons there's buttons on the top as well: an On/Off/Pairing switch, a "music toggle" button (which doesn't seem to work a damn with Windows Mobile), and a menu/back button
Actually, the most prominent feature on the side is probably the display, which is large and easy to read. The display turns itself off to save battery power relatively quickly, however. I really enjoy having a display on a Bluetooth headset, as odd as that sounds. Some find a display on a headset rather odd, as they headset is often (or usually) on the ear. However, being able to see battery life at a glance is worth the price of admission alone, in my opinion. And given the advanced feature-set of the BT8010, trying to operate it without a display would be a nightmare.
The "mini-me" looks identical to the main headset, but has no functional buttons.
Comfort and Usability
The BT8010 is a comfortable headset. It stays on the ear without any problems (and can be adjusted to fit in either ear). I have no problem wearing the headset for extended periods of time.
The speaker on both the main and mini-me headsets protrudes into the ear "just enough" to provide sufficient volume without become uncomfortable. I actually find it to be a nice compromise between "ear-gel" style headsets and more traditional "blast the sound into your ear" headsets. Your mileage may vary, however, depending on your ear size - for me, it's great.
The BT8010 charges very quickly, it will go from stone-cold dead to a full charge in less than two hours. With that full charge, Jabra specs the battery life at 10 hours talk/music time or 13 days standby time. In my usage this seems pretty accurate. I've listened to about 3 hours of music and spend a half hour on the phone just today and the battery is sitting pretty at 2 out of four bars.
Sound quality on phone calls is very good on the Jabra BT8010 - plenty loud for most any situations. One "quirk" which I actually like a lot is the volume adjustment on the headset applies only to he headset - it doesn't adjust the phones volume as I've experience with other Bluetooth headsets paired to a WM device. Another nice bit - when you have the mini-me plugged in the BT8010 gives you the audio in both ears.
Range on the BT8010 is superb, which is a very (VERY) pleasant surprise on a Bluetooth headset. I was able to have clear sound on both ends at 15 feet (with line-of-sight) and just the slightest static at 20 feet with a couple of walls in between. I suspect that the larger size not only accommodates the large screen and extra board-space for all the features of the BT8010, but also perhaps a larger Bluetooth antenna.
Sound quality for music was also good. It's still Bluetooth, mind you, but is on par with other A2DP headsets. You'll want to check on your device to make sure it supports actual Bluetooth stereo if that's what you're looking for, though - T-Mobile Dash, I'm looking at you.
Unfortunately, the various Bluetooth "standards" are anything but standard. Such is the case with the Jabra BT8010's compatibility with the various Windows Mobile devices I tested it with. Now, for phone calls, the BT8010 is a champ - it performs exactly as you'd expect it to. The difficulty comes in with the BT8010's "Wireless stereo" settings.
On both the T-Mobile MDA and the Palm Treo 750v, I experienced an unsettling bug. If you set the BT8010 as your Bluetooth "Wireless Stereo", then both of these PPC devices routed ALL of their audio through the Bluetooth headset - including button-click sounds and - get this: ringtones. Absolutely not cool. Getting the sound back required either turning off the BT8010 (which is thankfully easy given that it has an off-switch) or disabling the headset as a wireless stereo device manually via the Bluetooth settings. In some cases the BT8010 still ended up hijacking all system sound anyway. On the bright side, Play, Pause, and Next all worked fine when controlling it from the BT8010.
On the T-Mobile Dash I had a much better experience. The Dash was able to better determine where ringtones should come from (the phone's own speaker) and where other audio ought to go (the Bluetooth headset). Of course, the Dash has its own issues - when it detects a paired Bluetooth headset it won't let you switch out of the "headset" profile. This particular bug is not unique to the Jabra BT8010, though. It's just an incredible hassle to not be able to quickly silence the ringer on a phone just because I happen to have a Bluetooth headset on and in range.
Here's the nub of it - every phone has a slightly different Bluetooth implementation. On top of that, the A2DP and AVRCP are not all supported in the same way on every phone. I don't know whether I should be directing my ire at Microsoft for not properly supporting the standards or at Jabra for hijacking audio even when I supposedly turn off A2DP mode by hitting the music button. Right now I've pretty much settled on blaming everybody.
The BT8010 is great headset in design, sound quality, and in the fact that it innovatively combines a nice phone headset with a nice set of stereo headsets. I wholeheartedly recommend the BT8010 to WM5 Smartphone users, but for PPC-edition users it is more of a mixed bag. I am still using it with my Treo 750v; its buggy nature with the Pocket PCs I've tested is more than offset by the quality and feature-set of the device. If you have a low tolerance for bugs, wait until there's either a firmware update or somebody figures out a bugfix.
Ratings (out of 5)
- Design: 5
- Comfort: 5
- Compatibility: 4 (2 for PPC-Edition)
- Cost/Benefit: 4
5 for Smartphone Edition
3 for PPC-Edition
- Innovative "dual-use" design
- Nice display
- Good sound quality and range
- Easy to operate
- Hijacks all sound on some PPC Devices
- May be too bulky for some