Jabra Extreme - For PC hands-on

Jabra is currently in the process of unleashing a whole range of consumer VoIP-specific accessories onto the market, including a mass market version of its, previously, business-centric Speak 410 conference call-friendly speakerphone. But that still requires a USB connection to work, and is, therefore, not wireless.

As the company's mantra is that hands-free is king, so much so that its office in Denmark is a designated hands-free area under penalty of detention, it naturally has a range of Bluetooth headsets that work with Internet voice calling.

One of which is the new Jabra Extreme - For PC. Already available in the US, it is to make its way to the UK in the next month to 6weeks, and is effectively based on the mobile phone offering with a similar name. It's also Skype-certified.

The pack contains the headset, a USB dongle, a mains charger (European in our sample, but a UK will be supplied over here) a USB charging extension to reinvigorate the device directly from a computer, and a couple of alternate earbuds and larger clip.

There's also a disc with Jabra's PC Suite software, user manuals and the ability to register your device automatically, but we found that the USB dongle installed cleanly the moment it was put into a PC. And it paired with the headset from the get go, as soon as the latter was switched on.

The Jabra Extreme headset can also pair with up to seven other Bluetooth devices, so you can also use it with your mobile phone, Skype or no. And two at a time - a neat bonus. Plus, it can be paired with a PlayStation 3 - but then, that applies to any Bluetooth headset. Certainly, there's an appeal in using it for multi-player gaming instead of bulky cans.

Sadly, there's no way to pair it with an Xbox 360, even with the dongle. But, maybe that's something for the future... Are you listening Jabra?

Its primary use, though, is as a VoIP headset, and comes with full Skype-certification so you can be guaranteed it'll work with that specific service. It's truly plug'n'play in that respect - it just asks if you want to use the headset from within the Skype browser.

Certainly, this is an important strategy for Jabra, as general manager of EMEA Mobile, Viggo Olsen, told Pocket-lint: "Skype is the world's largest international telecoms carrier with 25 per cent of all international calls.

"And 90 per cent of all VoIP calls are through Skype. That is why we've partner with them."

He also added, "71.57 per cent of Skype users are in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)." Daunting figures indeed, and a good reason why it was vital to get the Jabra Extreme - For PC onto the UK market.

The company hasn't skimped on features either. While the headset itself is plain and simple to use (on/off switch, volume controls and pairing button) it houses some of Jabra's top-end technologies, such as dual microphones and its proprietary Noise Blackout Extreme system, which filters out ambient sounds to leave clear vocal audio.

It also, unlike many rivals, will stream live audio, music, podcasts, etc. into the earpiece as it's compliant with A2DP.

There is, however, one slight problem. While the audio quality into the earpiece is excellent, we were less impressed with the sound coming out at the other end (and have included a sample MP3 of a conversation to listen to). It's no worse than peers in a similar price bracket (around £80) and better than many Skype-certified handsets, but never as good as a dedicated microphone.

Listen to a sample recording

But then, that's not what the Jabra Extreme - For PC is meant to be. It doesn't profess to be adept at recording podcasts, nor will it replace a high-end webcam for a stationary position. What it does, is allow you to take calls via Skype or another VoIP service while remaining hands-free and mobile, and for that it warrants further investigation.