It's tough to muster excitement over a $US130 Bluetooth headset nowadays. It feels like peeling yourself out of bed after a breakup, or laughing at a joke during a eulogy for your best friend. So, Jabra, regarding the Stone: Thanks.
About a month ago, Jabra sent a little bag out to its regular reviewers. Inside was a stone—a literal, polished stone—and that was it. It was a cheesy PR stunt, the kind we see all the time, but when I got the headset itself, it made sense. The Jabra Stone, when docked, is a near-seamless pebble, broken only underneath, at the headset's hollowed-out ejection point. It's a stunning headset, actually, which sounds weird coming out of my mouth. (Or fingers! Who's counting.)
The Stone's specs are appropriate to its pricepoint: it'll pair in regular and A2DP modes for voice or music listening, respectively, has a minimalist status display, a noise-cancelling mic, volume controls—though here they're managed with a touch-sensitive shell rather than buttons—and a charging dock. The claimed talk time is two hours per charge, and the dock is good for three extra charges. Standby time is a respectable, though not spectacular, 12 hours.
And to be honest, aside from eking out a little extra battery life over competitors' products, there's not a whole lot a company can do to make a Bluetooth headset technologically interesting. What they can do, and what Jabra has done with the Stone, is focus on style and feel. Bluetooth headsets look dumb, and they're awkward to wear. The Stone is a headset designed with these thoughts in mind—it looks as not-dumb as a headset can; it feels as not-awkward as a piece of plastic in your ear conceivably could. It's self-conscious, almost embarrassed for what it is.
Long-term testing might bear out some initial concerns about battery life and the practical convenience of carrying around a slippery little battery rock, but my first impressions were uniformly positive. The Stone paired almost instantly with an iPhone, a Pre and a Hero right out of the box, sound quality was clear, and three ears of varying shapes and sizes found the angled earpiece plenty comfortable.
The Stone will be available at AT&T stores from November 8th, priced at $US130 right alongside the Platronics Voyager. From the looks of it the Voyager edges out a win on battery life, but the fact that Jabra's put even the tiniest bit of sex into their newest piece goes a long, long way. [Jabra]