Review: New Aliph Jawbone II Bluetooth Headset – Comparison With Original Jawbone

IMG_6940 Review: Aliph Jawbone II
Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
URL: us.jawbone.com
Cost:
$99.95 in store

I have been a long time user of the original Jawbone and after a month of using the original I fell in love. The audio was crisp, the noise cancellation worked, and the speaker was loud enough for me to hear people without being stuck all the way up my ear. The original was a bit big and that is what Aliph hoped to solve with the new Jawbone II.

After using the new Jawbone II for a month and putting it through its paces I am just not impressed. I think Aliph compromised a bit too much usability for the smaller form factor. Personally I still recommend the original Jawbone over the new Jawbone II especially since it is now about half the price of the new one. Read on to find out why…

First of all the new Jawbone comes in a gorgeous new package that really looks good. Especially compared to the crappy packaging other headsets come in. On the other hand you will probably throw this away afterwards so its not a lasting feature. :)

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The new Jawbone II comes with 4 different ear hoops. Two are made out of metal and two are made out of plastic and covered with p-leather. Sadly this is the main failing point of the new Jawbone. The ear hoops are just too loose so every time you move your head they slide away from your jaw.

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IMG_6946With regular headsets this would not be a big deal but the Jawbone’s noise assassin noise cancellation technology requires the headset (little white nub) to be touching your jaw bone to work. Otherwise everything you say will be interpreted as background noise… The old Jawbone solved this by making its ear hoop springy so it pushed against the back of your ear to make a better connection with your jaw. One rubber portion always touched the back of you ear and the metal portion pushed against the side of your head.

No matter how you bend the new Jawbone ear hoops I could not get it to do the same especially since they no longer have the spring. In the end I was forced to turn off the noise assassin technology because none of my callers could hear me if I did not hold the headset to my ear but that defeats the purpose… The noise assassin technology works like a charm when it does work but if you move your head or walk it gets dislodged easily and starts working against you. (You can turn it off by holding down the back button for a few seconds) Aliph has a guide on making it fit on their website which I tried to no avail.

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The new Jawbone also comes with 3 different ear pieces for the speaker. Each in a varying size. Unlike the old Jawbone where you just screwed them off by moving them to the side you need to pry off these new ear covers… Not as user friendly but I guess you don’t change them that often.

As with the older Jawbone you have to manually change the ear hoop by removing it from the headset to move it from your left to right ear. I do this all the time because sometimes my ear just hurts from having a headset attached to it. I really wished they would have changed this…

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In a size comparison between the original and the new Jawbone you can see that they really shrunk this headset. It still has the same two hidden buttons on the side but they are now easier to click and smaller. They also shrunk the blinking LED so that it looks MUCH better and less geeky.

The sound quality was good when you held the headset to your ear with your hand. Sadly that defeats the purpose of a hands-free headset. If you don’t hold it you need to hold your head still so that it does not move… Otherwise people will complain that you sound distant and far off even with the noise assassin technology turned off.

The headset can be charged by USB like the original but it uses a proprietary connection  to connect it with the headset. This means that you will be carrying yet another charger with your BlackBerry. I wish they copied Motorola and RIM by just using MiniUSB chargers… They also throw in a AC adapter that goes from AC to USB so you can charge without a computer. The new charging adapter connects to the headset much easier than the original Jawbone and easily comes off so you need to make sure not to jostle it or it will not charge.

The thing that always bothered me about Jawbone headsets is that when you take them out of the charger they do not automatically turn back on. Or at least remember the last state they were in before charging. My old Jabra was smart enough to realize that when I pulled it out of the charger I wanted to use it so it would automatically connect to my phone. The Jawbone requires you to hold the on button for 5 seconds each time… Just another annoyance. With the 8 day standby time I can’t see the harm in it automatically turning on and pairing.

The audio up and down buttons on the new Jawbone and included into the one button close to the back of the headset that moves the audio up in a cycle from low-medium-high-low… The headset does a pretty good job of automatic audio settings that this is not much of an issue. On the other hand it makes it annoying to try to quiet down crying babies in the background or amplify your grandmothers quiet voice.

Pros:

  • Tiny size
  • USB charging
  • Extra ear hoops & ear gels
  • Loud volume
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • Loose ear hoops cause ill effects
  • Proprietary charger
  • Does not automatically turn on
  • No dedicated up and down volume options

Conclusion: In short I decided to go back to the original Jawbone after trying this new iteration. Sadly the smaller size was not worth the sacrifice in audio quality. The old Jawbone can now be found online for about $45 which makes it a much better deal. If you can handle the extra heft of the original I highly recommend it! Hopefully the Jawbone III will be more impressive… and have a better ear hook. In the end I gave the new Jawbone II headset a 6 because it is still better than the average headset with the noise cancellation turned off.

11 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I had the original Jawbone and actually using the Jawbone II, now. Love the smaller size of the JBII. But, I had more clarity with the original.

  2. I think that while reviewing the Jawbone II, the Author didn’t take the time to fit the device properly. Not a very fair review.

    • I followed all the directions in the manual. Watched the video on their site. Tried all the ear hoops. Still sounds like crap and the fit is terrible. I used the headset for a month so this is a long review and not me just trying it once. Now going back to the original…

  3. Thank you for the honest review.
    The Jawbone 1 is selling like hotcakes online for a low price!
    Q

  4. @Queen4111
    Yeah I really wanted to like the new design but the ear hoops on the new jawbone were not up to par. Especially compared to the older rubber+metal approach. If you can handle the extra weight I recommend the original.

  5. I’ve had problems with every bluetooth I’ve tried. There is an excellent–but expensive–solution. Avery makes custom ear pieces. While pricey, they work amazingly well. The Jawbone 2 custom piece is so well fitted that the ear loop is unnecessary; it never falls out and the sound is excellent. The Jawbone is held comfortably but firmly against your jaw. The result is amazing.

    The Avery site is:

    http://www.averysound.com/as.jawboneII.html

    Ivan

  6. Does anyone know if the ear loop from the Jawbone 1 will fit the new Jawbone 2 ??

    I have the JB2, and like it other than I can’t get it fit properly. I am waiting for some more ear rubbers that will hopefully make a difference. I think a better fitting ear loop would help too.

    • The JB1 loops do not work on the JB2. During my JB2 tribulations I found that no combination of the ear loops and rubbers made much difference. The JB2, when properly fitted is a stellar product. It’s unfortunate that JB appears not to have made much effort on the fit issues. There is a costly-but-perfect solution: a custom fitted ear piece (see my post above).

  7. Nice honest review. I wish I had read it before purchasing (fortunately I can still return it). I experienced 100% of the problems described in the article, and receive no helpful support from the retailer or manufacturer.

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