The Gadget: Aliph's second-gen Jawbone has a revamped design, improved noise-blocking technology, and is 50% slimmer than Aliph's original Bluetooth headset.
The Price: It's out today in black for US$130. Silver and gold models will be available soon.
The Verdict: The new Jawbone beats its predecessor from top to bottom in comfort and sound. While the original earpiece set the standard for Bluetooth sound quality, wearing it for an hour felt like exercise to my ear. The gen 2 is much lighter, sits in my ear comfortably and barely touches my face. The clip is slimmed down and covered in leather, a much better feeling than the rubber and metal monstrosity of yore.
The outgoing sound is better than gen 1's too. Aliph ditched "Noise Shield" for "Noise Assassin" technology, and while that sounds like a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo, people on the other end of the line while I was testing it could hear a difference. The new tech kept the outside noise to a minimum and my voice stayed clear.
Despite these improvements, the Jawbone still has flaws. Incoming sound isn't much better than before; it's loud enough, but the digital crunch found in all Bluetooth headsets is still there. Considering how long Bluetooth has been around, it's a wonder why no one has been able to really improve on this. Also, the new Jawbone only has four hours of talk time compared to the old one's six; the weird part is, it almost has twice the standby time, over 8 days.
Since the only worthy competition for the Jawbone is, well, the Jawbone, the gen 2 is a clear winner. Bluetooth headsets still have a way to go before they measure straight-up to using the phone, but this slimmed-down, enhanced Jawbone is another step in the right direction. [Jawbone]