How do you make a Bluetooth headset remotely interesting and useful? Jabra believes it's the latest manufacturer to do just that with the Jabra Stone, a Bluetooth headset with an element of "cool" for those who like to pretend to be important on the move. We plug in to see if the claim can be matched.
The Jabra Stone is a cute looking Bluetooth headset that comes with a docking station that, you guessed it, looks like a pebble or a little black stone.
Get the headset out of the box, something that would even challenge Robert Langdon from the Dan Brown novels, and you're off. You've got to pair it of course, but this will take seconds as Jabra have done away with the need to input a PIN number into your phone - I mean who needs this anyway? Once connected, you're ready to make phone calls. In our tests it took us around 10 seconds each time to pair it with a range of handsets (iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android powered), and handily you can actually pair it with two devices at the same time - ideal for using with your computer and your phone.
With no on or off switch the idea is that when it's docked in the "Stone" it's off and when it's not it's on. In principle and practice this works very well. The catch is that you'll have to carry the pebble around with you wherever you go, but then unlike headsets like the Jawbone it means you can't snap the ear loop off in your pocket either.
The docking station is also the charging unit and you can therefore charge the headset via your laptop as long as you remember a Micro-USB cable (you get a proper AC charger in the box). You also get an optional clip so you can attach it to a bag or your jacket (stylish) and a light to let you know how much juice the headset has got left.
The small headset hangs off your ear, literally, which is not great if you wear glasses. While another annoyance is that it will only work for your right ear as the headphone element can't be rotated - a trick we think Jabra have missed here especially considering the design.
The design is flexible enough to get it on/in your ear without too much effort and small enough to be hidden by longer hair. It's a "one design fits all" offering meaning if you've got overly large ears you'll have to do a bit of bending - we even got a complaint from one caller when we struggled to put it on our ear. The Jabra Stone ships with three different silicon ear buds although none of these will help it fit in your ear any better than the default offering.
But that's no bad thing. While it's down to personal preference, it's actually not as bad as it sounds just hanging there and means that we found we could wear it for longer without that "I've got something in my ear" feeling.
Buttons are, on the surface, non-existent, however they are there, just hidden. This has its pros and cons. Pros in that it keeps the design minimal, cons in that you'll hang the call up trying to turn up the volume and it's a pressure-sensitive button panel that isn’t that pressure sensitive, with volume and call accept/hang-up on the same panel.
Looks are one thing, but what about call performance? Boasting dual-microphone "Noise Blackout Extreme" noise cancelling tech the Stone's call quality in our tests was good when we were in a quiet environment. Inside our quiet office nobody knew we were on a headset and we didn't get the usual "you sound like you're in a crisp packet" comments.
However, take it out of that "safe zone" and it's a different story. In a range of outside environments from a walking the dog, to in a car, to Starbucks, the Jabra Stone was appalling with the handset offering a better sound quality for those we were talking to.
We found battery life varied massively depending on how many calls you made and whether you left the headset unplugged from its docking station, so it's not really fair to say how many hours it's good for. We weren't leaving it days between charges, or having to charge it every couple of hours either - Jabra claims 8-hours of talk-time and 12 days on standby.
The Jabra Stone is a handset that looks nice on the surface but fails heavily in use. On a design side of things the pebble idea actually works and gives you a protective case that doubles up to have a purpose rather than just being a piece of plastic.
If we are being picky, and why not, we would have liked a longer cable on the power adapter and the ability to wear the Stone headset in our left ear, but this comes down to personal preference.
So should you opt for the Stone? No. While it worked in our quiet office we actually had to turn it off in loud environments. Now you could question why would you want to wear it in the pub or coffee shop, but if you've got to remember to turn it off at certain points, to us, that kind of defeats the object.