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Home > Hardware Reviews > Consumer Electronics

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Jabra BT8030

2. Using the device

Design:

This is one very large headset – there is just no other way to describe it. This thing is huge.  The design concept is that the Jabra BT 8030 is used as an “Over the Ear” style headphone.  Traditionally, larger – over-the-ear models provider a richer sound – and, as I will discuss later, the Jabra live up to that.

Imagine a nicely padded vice on your head and you get the idea of how the BT8030 sits.  It is very tight fitting – but still comfortable.
The headband is adjustable and easily slides to fit the user. On the bottom of the left side of the headphone is the AC charger input and a mini-USB adapter port.  An invisible, but effective microphone is embedded at the bottom of the left hand Earphone as well.

There are plenty of buttons on the Jabra BT8030.  Along the back left of the device is the Power/Pairing button, volume up and down buttons and the call Answer/End button.

Along the back right hand side are remote controls for audio/video sources.  These buttons did not work with all applications – I will talk about this in the “ease of use” section.  That being said, the buttons are for Stop/Play, Skip Next and Skip Previous.

One of the very cool features of this device is that it is not just a portable headphone – but it is also a portable speaker.  Just push the small safety release buttons which are located along the top of the headset – and the headphones open up into a portable speaker system.  This was great for having music outside or simply providing better external sound than you can get from the BlackBerry speaker itself. This also makes the BT8030 a tremendously versatile product.

Ease of Use:

The good news is that “Pairing” was very easy.  I have found when using my BlackBerry 8320 with other Bluetooth Stereo devices that the initial connection doesn’t always allow for Bluetooth stereo – usually when I connect to my Bluetooth car stereo – the first connection just says “Hands free.” I often need to disconnect and then reconnect to get the little green check mark that says “Bluetooth Stereo Audio.” Fortunately, with the Jabra BT8030 – the connection was perfect every time.

I used the BT8030 as a hands free as well as a stereo headphone/speaker.

BT8030 as a Handsfree Device:

Call quality was fine – this was certainly not the most comfortable way to talk on the phone – but there is something said for calls coming to both ears to help provide call clarity. The microphone has some noise cancellation features and it seemed to do a good job of filtering my voice into the call and cutting out background noise on the other end.

Voice dialing can be initiated by pressing either the call button on the headset or the BlackBerry itself. I could easily use call waiting or cancel calls using the headset – just like any other headset.

BT8030 as a Music Device:

I tried both the bundled BlackBerry Media player and the Flipside Music player with the BT8030.  Music sounded great using either (I will talk about sound quality in a bit.) The problem was the use of the convenience buttons on the BT8030.  The buttons for pause/stop did not work using Flipside – but worked beautifully when using the BlackBerry Media player.

The Skip/Next button did not work for either player as intended.  On the BlackBerry Media Player, it just went back to the beginning of whatever song I was listening to.

The Skip/Previous button did not work on Flipside and it worked…sort of with the BlackBerry Media Player. 

What happened was this button functioned as the Skip/Next button – advancing tracks using the BlackBerry Media player.  I don’t know if the product literature is incorrect or if the features just got swapped somehow with the BlackBerry.

Versatility:

The Jabra BT8030 is a very versatile device.  It was very cool to go from headphone to speakers just by pushing the little buttons and opening up the unit. I could see taking this as a true portable speaker option when I traveled.  You can have headphones on the Plane and then speakers on the  beach – all with just one unit.

Sound Quality:

Bluetooth Stereo is still emergent technology.  Sound compression takes a toll on music quality. That being said, the sound quality of good, Stereo music on the BT8030 was better than any other Bluetooth headphone I have tested.  Bass was incredibly strong and realistic – with a great punch.  The high end was not as strong, but it was passable.

I tried listening to various music genres on this device and was most pleased with Rock and Jazz.  Vocals were good – but sometimes they broke up if the volume was raised.

This unit does not play loudly – when the sound was turned up too high on either the BlackBerry or the Headphones, the sound did, at times, break up.

As Stereo speakers – the sound quality was also quite good – much better than the built in speakers on my BlackBerry or my laptop.  Bass response was not quite as strong when using this in “Speaker mode” but it was fine.

Overall Conclusions:

The Jabra BT8030 is an interesting and useful device.  If your budget doesn’t allow for headphones and a separate speaker system – this could be the ticket for you.  Sound quality is good – very good for a stereo Bluetooth Headphone.  Sound when using as speakers was not as loud as I would like – but it was still nice to listen to.

These things are big – really big and they are heavy.  While I found them comfortable for the short term – due to the padding, I found them uncomfortable for prolonged hours of listening.  The remote control buttons also did not work as advertised – but I don’t’ know if that is a BlackBerry issue or an issue with the headphones themselves.

At $169.95 these things are not cheap – but you do get headphones and speakers in one unit. If you like big, over the ear headphones these might work well for you.

Final Grade: B+

Pros: Good bass, versatile, overall good sound quality
Cons: Big, not terribly comfortable, pricey

The Jabra BT8030 lists for $249.99 and can be found for as little as $150.00 at various retailers.

More information can be found at www.jabra.com   
 




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