Like the idea of listening to your tunes wirelessly but hate having both ears covered when making calls? The Jabra BT8010 attempts to make both frequent gabbers and music lovers happy with a Bluetooth headset that transforms into a set of headphones. The design could be sleeker, but you won't find a more versatile cell phone accessory.
The main attachment looks like any other Bluetooth headset with a jog wheel and rubber earloop, but Jabra packs in a smaller twin earpiece that, when plugged into its big brother, enables strong stereo sound. The result is a pair of black headphones that can be used however you see fit.
At only 2.5 inches and 1.3 ounces, the BT8010's main unit is fairly light and unobtrusive. The stereo attachment connects via a 14-inch USB wire that wraps behind the head. The two earpieces fit comfortably, and we hardly noticed the adjoining wire. On the other hand, these earpieces are much bigger than traditional earbuds and take some getting used to. And forget about taking this combo for a jog; just a quick jolt or turn of the head would often dislodge the headset from our ears.
Pressing the Mode and Menu buttons along with turning the jog wheel on the right earphone allows you to control the volume and navigate through recent calls and a phonebook. The headset will store up to 15 recent calls and 30 phonebook entries, but unless you have a photographic memory that can keep track of recent calls and contacts, you'll actually have to take off the headset and view the display. We found voice dialing much more convenient.
During our tests the BT8010 integrated stereo music and calling seamlessly. The main earpiece vibrates to alert you of a call; simply tap the answer button on the right earphone to connect. Tapping the button again will return to music mode. You can skip tracks using the BT8010 (by double-tapping the Answer/End button), but unlike some competing products, the headset doesn't let you fast-forward or rewind within a song.
Stereo music came through crystal clear even at high volumes, easily on a par with Bluetooth stereo earphones from Motorola, Plantronics, or Sony Ericsson. The device balanced bass and treble with virtually no crackle or echo. Music streams also came through uninterrupted for the most part, but additional connected devices or interference from surrounding wireless devices sometimes caused a break in the stream.
As for headset functionality, callers reported that we sounded a bit muffled, most likely because of the small microphone located in the nose of the right earphone. Voice recognition worked well, although we had to issue our commands slightly louder than usual.
One of the Jabra BT8010's best features is its ability to pair two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, such as a phone and an iPod equipped with a Bluetooth adapter. We used an HP Pavilion dv9000 notebook to listen to music while occasionally taking calls on a MOTO Q. We experienced difficulty getting two other products to stay connected, but a software update from Jabra seemed to fix the problem.
The Jabra BT8010 is certainly unique, but is it worth the price? As long as you can live with a little extra bulk, you'll appreciate essentially getting two products for the price of one.
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