The Aliph Jawbone's critical failure
January 02, 2009
Back in July, we bitched about our Motorola H700 bluetooth headset dying. So frustrated were we with Motorola’s track record, we swore off buying another Motorola bluetooth product, and instead picked up the highly recommended Aliph Jawbone 2.
Touted as one of the best headsets due to its noise reduction technology, the Jawbone 2 differs from its predecessor primarily in regards to size. That is to say, the Jawbone 2 is smaller than the original, and since bluetooth headsets often look obnoxious clinging to the side of someone’s skull, the reduction in the Jawbone’s size was welcome. We made our purchase with high expectations.
Sadly, the Jawbone 2 is as lame as it is cool. There are no visible buttons on the Jawbone, though pressing the surface turns the device on and off. There are, however, no volume buttons on the Jawbone 2, which we found to be annoying as the whole purpose of having a bluetooth headset means not worrying about fiddling with one’s phone while talking. The Jawbone’s hidden light is pretty cool, but we’d rather forego this for some more functionality.
As far as the Jawbone’s noise reduction goes, it’s tough to say, since we were on the speaking end and not the listening end of our phone calls. Some people made no comments at all about the audio quality (suggesting that it was pretty good), while other people occasionally complained about not being able to hear us, likely because the Jawbone 2 didn’t rest consistently on our face. And that’s really where the Jawbone 2 struggles, because despite including different earbuds and ear-loops, we couldn’t find a combination that kept the Jawbone 2 properly in place, and its resting perfectly well on one’s face that the Jawbone’s noise reduction technology relies on.
Our annoyance at this only grew when we realized that the Jawbone 2 couldn’t simply be thrown into our pocket, because the ear-loops were made out of a flimsy plastic that would bend and break down, until the dumb thing would just snap. After this happened the first time, we stopped putting the Jawbone 2 in our pants pocket and kept it in a suit or jacket pocket instead, which generally didn’t bend the ear-loop into an awkward position. After several months, these precautions still didn’t entirely work, however, as the ear-loop broke again.
The original Jawbone came with an ear-loop made out of metal, and we have no doubt that it was more durable than the ones the Jawbone 2 ships with. From what we could tell, all replacement ear-loops are similarly plastic, and therefore are also destined to fail. It’s pretty sad when a product retailing for around $100 has such a major critical weakness. Quite simply, we’re not cool with the idea of buying replacement ear-loops every couple months because of a design flaw that easily trumps the H700’s wire wear.
Aliph needs to either sell better ear-loops, or re-design the ear-loop/earbud system on the Jawbone entirely. And while they’re at it, they need to dump the Jawbone’s proprietary charging interface - mini-USB is the way to go, since travelers don’t want to have to carry an extra cable around just for their headset.
Until we see some improvements by Aliph, we’ve restarted our search for a durable, quality bluetooth headset. Any suggestions?