Smartphones are a vital piece of equipment for many business workers, but making multiple calls throughout the day can be a discomfort to your neck, ears, arms and potentially brain—especially if your calls are long. That’s why Bluetooth headsets have become must-have accessories for heavy mobile phone users.
The benefits of these hands-free, wireless devices are obvious, and the law in the UK now requires the use of a headset while driving. But what’s less apparent is the differences between the huge range of headsets on the market. The latest model from headset specialist Jabra is positioned at the premium end of the market and includes everything you could possibly need from a Bluetooth headset.
Silence is golden
The Jabra Supreme costs a pretty penny at £99.99 (inc. VAT), but its cost is justified by its audio quality. It’s also the first Bluetooth 3.0 mono headset to feature Active Noise Cancellation. Similar to stereo noise cancelling headphones, Active Noise Cancellation works by blocking out noise around you, making you feel as if you have entered your own space of sound. Of course, as the Jabra Supreme is a mono headset—it fits over one ear—you’ve still got surrounding noise from your other ear to contend with.
Other audio technology used in the Jabra Supreme is for wind-noise reduction. Based on Jabra’s WAVE, the Jabra Supreme dramatically reduces wind noise so the other person on the end of the call hears you with improved precision.
Similar to other Bluetooth headsets, the biggest advantage of the Jabra Supreme is that it lets you talk on your mobile phone totally hands-free. Having said that, you will of course need to navigate contact details and dial a number from your handset directly—unless you’ve got an iPhone 4S with the voice-activated Siri.
The Jabra Supreme is a relatively light headset (18g), but it’s certainly noticeable when hooked onto an ear and it flaps around a bit if you shake your head. And while it sits positively onto your ear when sitting at a desk, the headset isn’t secured well enough for those in physical jobs and is likely to work its way loose. It’s quite a big headset too, so those conscious of wearing a headset while talking on a phone may feel a little uncomfortable.
The Jabra Supreme comes ready to be worn for right ear wearing, but it can be toggled to a left ear configuration by removing the ear hook, turning it and then attaching it from the other side on the headset. It’s a quick process that can be done in a matter of seconds without any tools. The ear cushion is soft and comfortable and comes in two different styles to optimise the fit and comfort.
The headset includes its own non-removable battery that can be charged using the supplied AC adapter, a computer’s USB port (microUSB cable supplied), or even a car lighter (adapter supplied). There’s a green LED on the headset that flashes when the Jabra Supreme is charging and goes out when the Jabra Supreme’s charge is complete in about 2 hours. Once fully powered the headset is good for about 6 hours talktime and 15 days of standby time, so heavy users will have to charge it at least once a day.
Pairing the Jabra Supreme on an iPhone 3GS was a painless process that took just a few seconds to complete. After activating Bluetooth on the iPhone and turning the Jabra Supreme on (simply flipping the boom arm open), the Jabra Supreme automatically entered into pairing mode and hooked up with the iPhone within 10 seconds or so—no passwords, no convoluted settings, no hassles!
The Jabra Supreme includes Multiuse, which lets you connect two active Bluetooth devices at the same time and enjoy using them simultaneously. In this state, the primary phone (the phone paired last) is used for voice dialling, although calls can be placed and answered on both phones and switched between the two. The Jabra Supreme also features A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), a Bluetooth profile that allows for the wireless transmission of stereo audio from an A2DP source (typically a phone or computer) to an A2DP receiver (Jabra Supreme).
Time to talk
Answering a call can be done in a few different ways. If you’ve already got the headset placed on your ear you can press the dedicated Answer/end button on the device. Otherwise, flipping the headset open answers the call and partners with your mobile phone, giving you a couple of seconds to place the Jabra Supreme on your ear and ready yourself for the call. There are dedicated volume buttons on headset, in addition to a mute button, should the call quality be good or bad.
If you don’t mind looking like a right plonker, calls can even be voice-activated by saying “Answer” to accept or “Ignore” to reject. A fourth button is located on the boom arm and is used to activate the voice controls. Saying “Redial” will redial that last outgoing call, “Call back” will redial the last incoming call, and “Battery” lets you hear how much battery is left in the headset.
Once a call has ended you can press the Answer/end button on the headset, remove the headset from your ear and fold the boom mic, or simply press the end call button on your mobile phone. The way you use the Jabra Supreme will depend on whether you intend to keep the headset on your ear for extended periods of time or just when making and receiving calls.
The Jabra Supreme is a comfortable headset that includes a good good range of features for heavy mobile phone users. Its flip-boom arm makes it quick and easy to activate and carry the headset—simply opening it turns the power on and flipping it closed shuts the power off—and the relatively large (24mm) speaker produces a rich, high quality sound on every call. Indeed, callers on the other end of the line won’t even suspect you’re using a headset.
The only downsides are that it’s is a little flimsy and it doesn’t come with a protective carrying pouch. The ear cushions are also a nightmare to reattach, should you make the mistake of removing one. It’s a little bulky and insecure to wear all day, but for desk-bound workers and those who spend a lot of time in the car, the Jabra Supreme is an excellent headset. Expensive for sure, but its compact design and top-notch audio quality make it a good choice.