- Review Price: £88.10
Not too long ago we got our ears on the Aliph Jawbone Noise Assassin headset and concluded that it might just be the best Bluetooth headset we’d seen, thanks to its killer combination of style and competency. Its latest successor, the Jawbone Prime, purports to be every bit as good, bringing the same great noise-cancelling technology into an even sleeker package. Sounds great, but has Aliph come good on those ambitions?
I certainly can’t fault the Jawbone Prime on looks – it’s every bit as attractive as the Noise Assassin but also a little smaller. Black is still the new black and I still think that’s the colour of choice, although the purple has a certain appeal. In any colour, you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed at having spent £88.10 on the Prime; which is fortunate as that’s how much Aliph is asking.
Two of the contributors to the Prime’s looks add to its functionality, too. The most obvious is the option to eschew a strap over the back of the ear in favour of using an ‘ergobud’ as Aliph calls it. These have a rubber loop protruding backwards from the main device’s body which hooks into the earlobe keeping the Prime in place against its wearer’s head.
The packaging includes several earbuds of various sizes to suit just about any ear and if you don’t take to the ‘ergobud’ fitting there is an earloop supplied. Also provided is a USB charging cable and a USB power adaptor. As per the Noise Assassin the charging end of the cable is magnetic and holds the Prime in place – entirely gratuitous and entirely cool.
The USB charger is, as before, useful for powering anything that charges over a USB cable. Hardly worth mentioning, but it’s one of those fringe benefits that makes you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from a well-thought out product bundle.
Fully charged, Aliph says the Jawbone Prime will deliver 4.5 hours talk time, which sounds about right to me. Unless you’re some manner of high-flying executive unable to spend more than five minutes off the road and phone (in which case why are you driving your own car?) I can’t see battery life being a problem.
A charge to 80 per cent capacity takes less than an hour, which is pretty swift by anyone’s standards and when not connected to a phone, the Prime will turn itself off after 15 minutes of non-use helping preserve its battery. Quick enough for a top-up over a leisurely breakfast, cup of coffee and newspaper in the morning certainly.
The Jawbone Prime can be connected to as many as eight devices, using the standard search, connect, enter the passcode (0000 – surprise, surprise) and go technique you’re surely all familiar with. Usefully, two phones can be connected to the Jawbone Prime at once, handy for those who carry both a work and personal phone.
Or, of course, if you leave a second mobile hidden in your car away from a significant other. Not that I condone such behaviour, but growing up on American dramas has left me with the impression that at least one person in a good 80 per cent of all couples is being unfaithful.
But I digress; being able to connect the Jawbone Prime to two phones at once is bound to be a deal-sealer for some to my mind.
All of the headset’s functions are controlled with just two buttons, both hidden towards the rear. One in effect comprising the back curve of the Prime and the other sitting just behind the status LED. A single press of the forward button will answer an incoming call, pressing and holding for two seconds turns the Prime on or off out of a call, or activates the noise reduction function in one (why that’s considered useful I don’t know; it’s too good to want to turn off).
A single rear button press will refuse an incoming call, or cycle through volume levels and a two second hold in standby activates voice dialling on any handset that supports it – which my iPhone annoyingly doesn’t.
You may notice from the images that the Jawbone Prime features the same Voice Activity Sensor (VAS) as debuted with the Noise Assassin – that clear rubber blob at the business end of the device. As before, this presses against the wearer’s jaw enabling the Prime to sense when its user is talking, so that the microphone is turned off the rest of the time; cutting down on the level of external noise transmitted. The Prime also boasts a number of noise reduction algorithms which purport to further distinguish speech from external interference and just as with the Noise Assassin these work famously.
Certainly neither of the two people I called were any the wiser that I was doing so with a hand free headset in a car. Okay, so 40mph in a Fiat Panda isn’t exactly going to stress any noise reduction circuitry, but I’m entirely confident that I could have been in a McLaren F1 or a Ferrari 430 Scuderia and had concluded my conversations just as unhindered. Importantly clarity at the Prime’s end is also great, although the volume seems to have an annoying tendency to reset itself to the minimum occasionally – I’m inclined to blame my iPhone 3G for such issues though. If only so I have yet another reason for needing to upgrade to an S.
The Jawbone Prime also touts great wind reduction and winding down the window in my car confirmed that, yes, it does indeed work pretty well. It is, I am reliably informed, effective enough that speech is still perfectly clear, although wind noise isn’t eliminated, simply reduced – not that I’d expect anything else.
The Jawbone Prime is, like its predecessors, fairly expensive especially when Bluetooth headsets are considered something of a commodity item. However, it looks great, works fabulously and emanates an air of desirability that’s hard to resist. If you can afford one, get one.
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