Just when I thought I had seen and use the best Jabra has to offer in 2008, the BT530 lands on my desk with a mighty thump. The diminutive looking BT530 Bluetooth Headset hides some interesting technology to differentiate this device from the plentiful options in the market.
I would like to thank the Jabra team for their on-going generosity and support in providing DigitalReviews Network with their latest innovations.
The BT530 arrives in a fairly simple but effective packaging. The device itself is clearly displayed in the window of the box in all its black matte plastic and silver trim glory. The first thing you would notice is the tiny size of the BT530, the dimensions are a miniscule 48 x 18 x 12.5 mm (HxWxD).
As with the SP700 car speaker phone that was reviewed last month, the Jabra BT530 came fully kitted out and ready for action. There are seven different sized ear gels and a spare earhook to ensure an optimal fit. Also included are a USB cable for charging and firmware updates, and the A330 bluetooth dongle for connectivity to your computer (A330 bundled in Australia only).
The headset has 4 buttons, including a dedicated on/off button which I cannot ever praise Jabra enough for making that decision. It is small, effective and keeps me sane because I do not ever need to listen to a trill in my ear, or watch blinking lights when I could least afford to be distracted. Thank YOU Jabra! The remaining three buttons serves to answer or hang up a call, and lastly to increase or decrease the volume. No frills, no fuss, purely functional without unnecessary and distracting bells and whistles.
The BT530 comes with an impressive list of specifications. Primarily Jabra claims to destroy unwanted sound with Noise Blackout. "The Jabra BT530 is the first Bluetooth headset with Noise Blackout. Unique amongst wireless hands-free headsets, it provides background noise elimination – without any compromise on natural voice quality. Dual microphones, coupled with advanced DSP technology, identify the source of sound – and then enhance your own voice, and obliterate peripheral noise."
"This headset offers a noise-free experience in crystal clear sound wherever you are. Equipped with intelligent volume control – the headset automatically adjusts the level of received audio for optimal audibility and also offers Audio Shock Protection – guarding your ears against raised voices or sudden noise surges. Designed in true Jabra style, with comfort and intuitively in mind – this headset will provide pure audio power all-day long, whichever way you choose to wear it."
Additionally the BT530 features Multiuse with up to 8 devices paired at the same time, a feature that I wish was in the SP700.
As we all know, specifications on paper does not always get translated into reality. So let's see how well the Jabra BT530 specifications translate into action. As always, the first thing I do with a new headset is to call my voicemail. The incoming sounds are beautifully clear and crisp without distortions when connected to my iPhone 3G. On the Blackberry however it was crackling and cutting in and out a bit which I can only assume is the older firmware version that I have on that phone.
Outbound calls however were a bit lower in quality. At least one person thought my voice was coming through a little muffled and slightly distorted. To me (as the receiver) it wasn't annoyingly bad but it was definitely noticeable. It did however quite effectively filter out the background noise of a failing notebook fan going full bore, or the wind whistling past an open car window as I drove at speed. In fact the absence of background noise seems almost unnatural for a normal phone conversation on the move.
As for the Audio Shock Protection, I didn't notice it greatly which probably means it was working exactly as it should! I didn't find the incoming volume to be too loud, although I could put the volume higher to an uncomfortable level. At least having the option of having it too loud is far better than the alternative where some headsets tend to be too soft in volume.
There is an indicator nestled between the volume up and down buttons with red for charging, green for full charge, steady blue for pairing and green blinking for power on. The BT530 will take a second or two before the LED will indicate that the device is initialising.
I found the BT530 to be fairly comfortable to wear, although I am not in the habit of constantly wearing a bluetooth headset on my ear. The lightweight is certainly a plus, and the earhook does the job extremely well as the slot that it slides into is a tight fit ensuring very little movement once you are comfortable with the adjustments you have made.
* Noise Blackout technology with two noise cancellation microphones
* Crystal clear sound by advanced DSP (digital signal processing technology)
* Intelligent volume controls & audio shock protection
* High Performance with bluetooth 2.0 EDR & ESCO
* Dual wearing style with 3rd generation Jabra eargel and flexible ear hook
* Multiuse with up to 8 devices paired at the same time
* Dedicated on/off slide switch
* Up to 5 1/2 hours talk time and up to 250 hours standby time
* Weight: 10g
* Dimensions: 48 x 18 x 12.5 mm (LxWxH) (1.9 x 0.7 x 0.5 in)
* Battery status indicator
* Features answer call, end call, reject call, voice dialing, last number redial, mute, call waiting, put call on hold, volume control (phone dependant)
* Charging plug: micro USB
For a change I am a bit disconcerted to get to this part of a review and not have a clear list of gripes about the gadget I am testing. The only thing that really struck me as less then optimal is the slight distortion at the receiver end.
I think we have a winner with the Jabra BT530. That tiny black plastic body with the slight rubbery feel and the silver trim may not look a million dollars, but it is certainly discreet. It reminds me of that phrase "beneath the mask beats a noble heart". The technological heart of the BT530 really seems to deliver on almost all of the paper specifications.
The Jabra BT530 and A330 bundle is available in Australia now for RRP of AUD$218.90 including GST. The Jabra BT530 headset is available outside of Australia (and within Australia if you shop around online).